Economy Picking 101

by Ben Higgins

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  • Welcome to my new lesson!

    I wanted to introduce you to an easy way of learning economy picking.

    What is economy picking?

    "A hybrid of sweep picking and alternate picking, economy picking involves using alternate picking except when changing strings. In this case the guitarist changes to sweep picking, picking in the direction of travel: an upstroke if changing to a lower (pitch) string, a downstroke if changing to a higher (pitch) string." - Wikipedia

    Essentially, economy picking aims to reduce the effort and movement of the picking hand by introducing sweeps for string changes. A 3 note per string ascending pattern would have the pick stroke order of D,U,D, D,U,D but it is imperative to realise that you do not play 2 separate downstrokes when changing from a lower to higher string, it is a controlled sweep. I say 'controlled' because you still have to maintain the timing. In contrast, a descending lick would need to cross the strings on an upstroke so a 3 note per string descending pattern would look like this: U,D,U, U,D,U. Here's a useful thread I made about this technique to help fill in any blanks before you get started with this lesson.

    Why learn it?

    As mentioned before, it requires less effort to sweep from one string to another than if you maintained alternate picking whilst changing strings. Less hand movement = less effort. Not only is it very comfortable to use, it gives a different sound which is less percussive than alternate picking and can lead to more fluid sounding lines. Another bonus is that it's a good technique to learn for any guitarists who may suffer from repetitive strain injuries as it requires less physical effort.

    Will it interfere with my alternate picking?

    No. There's no reason at all why learning economy picking will make you 'forget' how to alternate pick. Truly, it would be beneficial for you to have a good grasp on alternate picking first. You don't have to be a virtuoso with it but at least know how it works. From there, learning economy picking is only going to benefit your playing by giving you another valuable tool to work with. So there is no downside to learning economy picking. It's aaaaaaaaallllllll good.

    So, you've got your reasons to learn it and this lesson isn't that difficult so what are you waiting for?

    Tuning: E A D G B E - Standard Tuning

    Tempo: 110 bpm

    Key: Bm

    Gear: Nick Crow 8505 Amp Plugin, Guitar Suite Tube Screamer, Poulin LeCab 2.


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