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Blog - Economy Picking

x-tinymce/html For most guitarists the phrase ‘Economy Picking’ is synonymous with 80’s shred metal – big pointy guitars, mullets, spandex and super fast metal licks! But it really isn’t the case.


Any student’s first lesson I look to emphasize and stress the importance of Economy Picking. Yes it’s another tool to your bag that can help improve your playing but this technique also allows you to understand the most logical way to read and interrupt guitar tabs from a picking hand point of view.

So what is the mysterious technique?

Where Alternative Picking is the basis for a correct picking technique Economy Picking is the next step in achieving a logical movement with your picking hand.

It is essentially a hybrid of Alternative and Sweep Picking and involves focusing on using 'Alternative Picking' until a string change or string skip occurs. The aim is to minimize the movement in your picking hand thus increase accuracy, speed and stamina and avoid jumping over a string(s) before picking it.

Here is a quick example of an A Blues Scale lick using Economy Picking,

Once you have practiced this excercise you will begin to see the logic in Economy Picking and also see why it was and still is favoured by speed players. Why focus on unnecessary movement alternative your picking hand to 'jump' from one string to another when you can simply continue with a downward movement.

n = Down stroke

v = Up stroke

Set your metronome for 70 bpm in quarter notes and slowly work your way up to 120 bpm. Remember accuracy = speed!

Economy Picking isn’t just for scales and speed picking licks (as mentioned earlier) it can be used in many circumstances, here is a great example - R.E.M’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ which uses Economy Picking.

D CHORD - 8th Notes 6/8 Rhythm

Timing 1 2 3 4 5 6

As you practice your favourite licks and riffs you will now be able to see where Economy Picking comes in handy and also when focusing on new tabs you will be able to understand the most logical and economical way of picking them!

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