All The Aspects Of Picking. Part 2

If you didn’t yet read the first lesson please do so before moving on to this one. There was a great response from the first lesson on picking and technique, so I decided to submit part II and elaborate somewhat on the economy side of things.

I have gotten countless e-mails asking about the specifics of economy picking and some people seemed a little confused.

Economy picking has one simple rule: When you move to a new string ALWAYS pick “into” or twards the string (if your moving to a string closer to the floor pick down. If your moving to a string closer to your face or the sky, then pick up) this goes for adjacent strings as well as skipping strings.

So, economy picking is basically just a rule that whenever you move to a new string while playing anything, you pick in the direction of that new string instead of going under the string and picking up, or instead of going over the string and picking down. This way it uses the kenetic energy already established with the last picking motion used. In other words, it saves time and energy, which means faster playing with less effort, physical effort that is. It does require a lot of mental work to get used to this type of picking.

Here is an example to make sure everyone gets it right this time. I feel bad for not explaining it in more detail on the last lesson:

d= downpick to the ground
u= uppick to the sky

If you were to play this using alternate picking the ups and down picks would work this way if you started on a downstroke…


  d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d

Now I will underline where you are wasting energy by moving around the string just to keep with the alternate picking pattern.


  d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d

Now I will write the down and up strokes how they would be for economy picking and underline the spots where picking will be easier and faster than economy (based on the laws of physics, which seem to superseed the laws of “but this cool guitarist does it this way” etc).


  d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
  - - - - - - - - - - * - - - - - - - -

In this one above I marked off with an * where there is wasted motion, because of the ammount of notes on this string. But that could easily be fixed by placing the note that is causing the problem on the next string and only having 2 notes on the high e string, or simply add a note so it’s 4 notes, like this:


  d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Now every underlined note is economical and uses the least posible energy and time while playing, hence making it faster because an object in motion tends to stay in motion, also the shortest distance is a straight line, etc. So I hope those examples help you out if not here is one last version in short:


|------3| |------3|
|3-5-7--| |3-5-7--|
 d u d u   d u d d

And for all the wise asses who say “but that’s only starting on a downstroke,” ok then here it is starting on an upstroke:


|------3| |----2-3|
|3-5-7--| |3-5----|
 u d u d   u d d u

See how there is always a way to make it economical.The trouble with economy is that a lot of players starting out on it usually play a little loose time wise on the string changes or with a picking that’s either too loud or too soft. So make sure to pay good attention to the tempo and dynamics of your string changes in economy.

The exercises you used for alternate picking can and should be repracticed using economy. I suggest practicing alternate picking even if your planning on using strictly economy picking like myself. By practicing alternate still, you are actually making yourself work harder, so when you do play economy it will be that much easier on you (and faster).

Here are some more licks/exercises to work on for your economy picking, remember to do them as alternate picking too. This is all economy picking friendly. Starts off in major and decends with some scale alterations:





This one is harmonic minor based:




This is actually the blues scale, however it is played in such a way to make it sound a little odd. The rolling of the fretting fingers is tough to get perfect but will help you out with sweep arpeggios later on:



This is a Wholetone scale pattern:




This is E-blues based:




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