Economy Picking Exercises

This isn’t entirely bad, but not entirely great either. The author says “I am assuming you already know what economy picking is”, and makes a couple other comments to that effect throughout the article, but in my experience, it’s usually best not to make such assumptions.

Even if someone is familiar with a given technique, it’s a good idea to remind them of what they’re doing and why during a particular exercise, as it’s easy to lose sight of the goal when working on something new.

Since the author makes no mention of what economy picking actually is, the purpose of the exercises, or why the hell you’d care in the first place, I’ll give a brief overview here.

Simply put, economy picking basically means that when crossing strings, picking towards the floor (to a higher or lighter string), move to the next string with a downstroke. When transitioning to a lower or heavier string (away from the floor), pick with an upstroke. The idea here is that if you’re picking downward, you move to the next string with the same motion (downstroke), rather than changing directions with an upstroke.

The reverse is true when moving to another string away from the floor, where you’d employ an upstroke instead of a downstroke as you would with traditional alternate picking. This leaves us with two consecutive down or upstrokes, using essentially the same picking motion, hence the “economy” of picking movement: you’re not moving as much or expending as much energy, therefore the movements you do make are more economical (and conservative, but this isn’t the place for any political cracks one might think of, so we’ll leave that alone.)

This economy picking technique is the basis for sweep arpeggios, most bluegrass “cross picking” runs, certain fast scalar passages and arpeggiated chords shapes, etc. It’s really kind of like mini chord strums utilizing two or three string sequences. All in all, this isn’t a bad economy picking primer if you can handle a few typos and a general lack of clarity regarding technique and the purpose behind it.

Economy Picking Exercises | Lessons @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com

“In this lesson I would like to share with you some of the exercises I have created that have helped me develop my economy picking, not that I am great at it! ”

People slam this guy in the post-lesson comments for using three note per string patterns, but the point of the article is to give an overview of economy picking, not phrasing creativity. I use a lot of similar scale patterns for a few good reasons: they’re simple, they naturally lend themselves to an economy picking approach, it’s pretty easy to quickly burn through multiple string sequences with them, and they work.

Economy picking really only applies to string crossing and odd-numbered note sequences per string (not counting single string alternate picking), as if you’re using an even-numbered note sequence on each string, you’d simply be alternating with down and upstrokes. So, I think threes are a good way to go, especially when you’re first getting the hang of the overall technique.

Keep in mind that when picking multiple notes on a single string (in this case three), you’ll still want to alternate your pick strokes (down, up, down, up, etc.): the economy picking aspect applies only when moving from one string to the next.

Don’t neglect the fretting hand’s function in favor of putting all your attention on right hand efficiency, and keep your knuckles nicely arched as you would when playing any scalar sequence. The cleanest, fastest, most accurate picking attack in the world doesn’t mean dick if your fretting hand’s technique is sloppy as a pigsty.

The author’s reference to “modal positions” is also inaccurate, as some of the comments mention, but I get that he’s using that terminology as a point of reference and something “tangible” to get your brain and fingers around. Again, this is a lesson on efficient picking technique, not theory and fretboard mechanics.

If you’re new to this, I’d advise going through the exercises presented here, and then experimenting by moving the same patterns around the neck. I do like the fact that he presents three and four string sequences too, as the same old, same old can get pretty boring pretty quickly. Breaking things up like this helps a bit with the phrasing issues the anti-three note per string naysayers gripe about too.

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