Economy picking

How many here have jumped on the economy picking train or tried to develop it at some point? I'm not talking about sweep picking arpeggios..although it's basically the same idea. I'm talking about scale runs that use economy picking either ascending or descending or both. Yngwie does it ascending only. I've been exploring it lately, just to add another tool to my belt, but after so many years of alternate picking, it feels really awkward, especially when trying to play with any speed. Anybody here successfully conquer this and find it to be worth the effort? 


  • I think I probably do it subconsciously in certain licks, because I learned to play them that way.

    It's part of that Grady principle. If you can alternate pick EVERY note in a run, more power to you, but that doesn't alway sound "right," and as Grady shows, even most super shred guys don't. The downward pick-slanting guys like YJM make sure they play an even number of notes before skipping strings so they end on the upstroke and skip the string on the downstroke -- this is the code Grady "cracked." This sometimes necessitates economy picking -- the odd hammer-on or pull-offs to make the math add up. 
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 1,047
    edited November 2017
    I wound up working it backwards. I was better at economy picking (or some variation thereof) before I was any good at alternate picking. Now, I do some combination of the whole works. 

    This thread got me thinking a bit further about how my picking style (if you want to call it that) developed. It seems to me that the economy picking came as a way to prop up some of my legato 3-note-per-string stuff, and it's basically some form of circular picking. 
    Post edited by TravisW on
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,655
    I was also a more natural economic picker. I figured out really early that in order to be able to play fast I had to alternate pick (this was way before what I knew what it was called, I just referred to it is up-down-up-down with my guitar playing friends - we thought that's how all pros played) so I worked pretty hard on that but I guess I "misdeveloped" in some sense :p 

    These day when playing descending licks I almost always start on a new string with a downstroke, it's just how I naturally play, the path of least resistance I guess ;)
    A few licks I had to work on it in order to get it sound right and really get pure alt. picking going, but generally no. It also sonunds a bit smoother to my ears. And it is much faster IMO, at least for me.
    Descending I usually go for a more traditional alt. picking or some hybrid between that and a more economic approach.

    I don't really feel limited by my picking skills these days - I am in no way able to burn at insane speeds but I have enough on tap to add some flair and spice when I like to :)
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 8,936
     The downward pick-slanting guys like YJM make sure they play an even number of notes before skipping strings so they end on the upstroke and skip the string on the downstroke -- this is the code Grady "cracked." This sometimes necessitates economy picking -- the odd hammer-on or pull-offs to make the math add up. 
    I think this is what I'm doing instinctively (I'm not pretending I'm fast), to me it helps keeping everything in sync. I have tried the strict alt-pick approach and (technical inadequacies aside)    sometimes it didn't sound right to my ears, indeed.  So, it's... whatever works. 
  • In my own playing I've always been more of a legato player...legato came very naturally to me. But I've always worked on alternate picking and struggled to play super fast runs like Paul Gilbert or Vinnie Moore using strict alternate picking. These days I can come close, but it's still a lot of work. I like the feel of alternate picking in the context of soloing over music. It's easy to sync up, i.e. downstrokes for downbeats upstrokes for upbeats. But, the speed and fluidity isn't exactly where I'd like it to be.

    I used to be totally against the whole economy picking approach as a system of picking, because I thought alt picking was superior for tone and feel. But after having developed sweep picking to a fairly high level I came to realize that economy picking is basically the exact same concept as sweeping, just applied to scalar ideas instead of arpeggios. Further, I starting digging into Yngwie's approach to those incredibly fluid ascending runs he does...I used to think he was alternate picking those runs, but he isn't. I should say he isn't purely alt picking--he sweeps across the string in his ascending runs anytime there is a downstroke leading to a new string in an ascending run. He does not use economy picking descending, which is very interesting to me.

    So, I've decided to explore economy picking as another system of picking that could be useful to a guy like me. Not looking to replace or overhaul my playing, just add another approach into the mix. We'll see how it goes!   
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 1,047
    The Yngwie not doing it descending thing makes sense to me, just because I'm guessing he developed the technique due to downpicking dominance. That's why I did it, anyway. I never really worked on developing the same thing built around upstrokes, and I don't believe I ever do economy picking that way, but I could be wrong. I didn't get my upstrokes into shape until I read a Steve Morse Open Ears column where he mentioned practicing upstrokes alone to even out alternate picking, and all that did was lead me into trying to get way better at alternate picking. 
  • SkyeSkye Posts: 1,680
    Yup, I've always been an economy picker.
  • Some times is about how you starts the run. Most times, we tend to start downstroke, but for me, when I know what I'm gonna to play (not always when improvising), If it's a 3 note per string ascending pattern, I prefer starting upstroke, because the first string change is down; that way, I start more easy the run and is easier to continue.

  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 1,110
    I used to use strict alternate picking exclusively. Nowadays I use both techniques, it depends on what I'm trying to play. Having the option to use either is certainly useful.
    "Practice cures most tone issues"
    - John Suhr
  • I'm finding that playing long runs across the strings using economy picking is extremely awkward for me. I much prefer the feel of alternate picking for those kinds of runs. Granted, it may be that I just need more reps with economy picking but right now that time is better used elsewhere. I do, however, find lots of uses for the occasional economy picked idea...usually it's just a small fragment and not a big scale run. So, I guess my conclusion--for now--is that mastering economy picking to a very high level is just not important enough to me to put in the time to do so. I will continue to dabble with it for certain licks though.   
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 8,005

    I mostly used economy picking, for the first couple of decades I played in fact. It was my default.

    I started getting the alternate thing over time, Paul Gilbert's Get Out of My Yard dvd got me kicked in the pants for that. But even then I used it pretty sparingly.

     I started gaining a lot more when I saw how Gambale approached eco picking in an arpeggiatic way, involved sweeps, etc.

    But for execution it was "Knockin' At Your Back Door". Those totally awry (yeah, might as well clear the air and say clunky) sweeps and rakes he did in that song I far preferred over the Shrapnel thing. It just sounded like a ballsy Rock player not worrying too much about things and playing from the heart. I've always preferred that, and economy picking in general.

    Put it this way, to me it's way too easy to sound robotic performing alternate picking with all the perfectly intonated, retentive perfectionism of a poodle 'do dude (yes, I've got to make a song from those three words, don't steal it from me). It's less easy with economy picking, probably because in some ways it kind of seems, well, natural. At least to me.

  • I hear ya man, but I think it really depends on the player as to whether things sound robotic, not really which technique one uses. I like the attack of alternate picking, but to be frank I'm not good enough at it to really abuse it :-)
    For arpeggio stuff I almost always use economy of motion so I suppose my playing is a big mix of alternate, economy and legato.
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 1,110
    I think it really depends on the player as to whether things sound robotic, not really which technique one uses.
    "Practice cures most tone issues"
    - John Suhr
Sign In or Register to comment.