Economy Playing - The underappreciated art of playing effortlessly

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Thread: Economy Playing - The underappreciated art of playing effortlessly

  1. #1

    Join Date: Jun 2017
    Location: Savannah, Ga

    iTrader: 0

    Economy Playing - The underappreciated art of playing effortlessly

    How's it going everyone.

    I just recently joined the forum and I'd like to at least make my first educational contribution. This falls under technique more than theory, but I couldn't find a technique section. If one exists, forgive me and MOD please feel free to move.

    I also maintain a blog where I discuss technique, compositional theory and playing in general at:


    To preface, at my current age (31) and as a teacher, I look at the sensationalized youtube cover channels, the south korean 10 year old kids that can shred me off the face of the map and even the shred gods we all appreciate (Marty Friedman especially comes to mind)—They all largely share one thing; Their right hand technique makes me cry ='(

    I maintain that if you can't play a piece with relative ease, you shouldn't be playing it. That or you should really assess what you are doing (or rather what you aren't) that is making the piece difficult.

    Economy Picking has been the biggest tool in my bag of tricks that I have come to depend on more than anything else.

    A gross oversimplification of the technique would define it simply as a picking pattern that utilizes the forward(or backward) momentum of a pick stroke to play the proceeding string. You are essentially playing through one string and into the next. At respectable tempos, people commonly mistake it for some bastardized sweeping trick.

    The pattern itself is:
    DOWN, up, DOWN, DOWN, up, DOWN, DOWN, up, DOWN DOWN (ascending)
    UP, down, UP, UP, down, UP, UP, down (descending)

    I can imagine it isn't as commonly utilized because of the awkward nature of the patterns. It feels very unusual, but it ends up paying dividends. It makes "bursty" passages a damn cakewalk.

    (A demonstration utilizing Economy Technique - Forgive the showboatiness of it, I lack a camera atm to demonstrate it properly)

    IT BEINGS AT THE 00:19 second mark AND ENDS AT THE 00:22 second MARK.

    (A good exercise to develop the technique used, using the A natural minor scale).

    Played in 8th notes.

    While practicing, it is VERY VERY important that you DO NOT break up the consistency of the picking pattern for comfort. You have to get used to the awkwardness of it without cheating.

    &&-D U D D U D D U D D U D D U D D U D D U D D U D U U D D U D D U D U U D D U D D U D D U D-

    As a note: If you were to play a scale run straight ascending or descending, the pattern would remain Down Up Down Down or Up Down Up Up. For this exercise, the picking pattern and fretboard pattern resets every BLOCK of its iteration. I wanted to address this, so no one got confused over why the the typical Economy pattern was interrupted here.

    I consider one BLOCK of this lick to be:

    &&-D U D D U D

    And then the picking pattern restarts, beginning with a down stroke in this case. The second half of the lick after you hit the G string has you tackling UP DOWN UP UP, which is said to be the trickier one to get.

    I'll try to upload a video down the road demonstrating this lick and others.

    Hope this post wasn't redundant and hope someone digs it.


    Last edited by Arkta; 06-15-2017 at 09:19 PM.

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  3. #2

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Jacksonville, FL

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    I didn't really hit that "next level" until my economy picking got unconsciously competent, which is the fourth and final level of perfecting a skill.

    It actually fucked up my alternate picking for a bit, then actually made that better because I learned to separate the correct techniques for certain runs.

    It also helps me bleed into sweeps to make arpeggios sound more fluid in a line versus making it sound like an excercise.

    It took me quite a while to grasp this one, because it is quite involved at first, but I can't imagine playing without it now.

  4. #3

    Join Date: Jun 2017
    Location: Savannah, Ga

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    Absolutely! I bet you were like me, when I said, "Damn.. why didn't I learn this sooner?". I hit the same rut to where I was so dependent on it, that I had to relearn how to alternate pick, lol.

    I also, can't imagine not playing with it. It is subconscious for me.

    Thanks for reply.

    Cheers brother!
    "A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on." - WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

  5. #4

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Jacksonville, FL

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    Try playing the intro to Sweet Child O' Mine now. Your brain will fart.

  6. #5

    Join Date: Jun 2017
    Location: Savannah, Ga

    iTrader: 0

    Quote Originally Posted by jaxadam View Post
    Try playing the intro to Sweet Child O' Mine now. Your brain will fart.
    Ahahahaha. That's just great.

  7. #6

    Join Date: Jul 2010
    Location: Zombieland
    ME: Ibanez S 540 Ltd
    Rig: Bugera 333XL Infinium

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    I take a pretty chill approach. My trick is not to think about stuff too much & just feel/improvise/go with the flow..most times that means a whole lot of economy picking & some other weird stuff that I've devised

    I mean's not technically perfect & the timing, pitch etc may be a bit off here & there (as is usually pointed out ) ..but it's a novel/unique style & I find that more satisfying than the whole homogenous/robotic "thou shall religiously pick every note & have a slow, wide vibrato" approach personally
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" ~Mark Twain


  8. #7

    Join Date: Jan 2012
    Location: London, UK
    ME: PRS Custom 24
    Rig: Kemper►KRK's

    iTrader: 4 (100%)

    Rick Graham is another good example for this. His economy picking and playing make it all look completely effortless. His right hand technique is so flawless that most of the time it looks like his right hand is barely moving at all.

  9. #8

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Glasgow - Scotland
    ME: Suhr M5
    MB: Squire Jazz
    Rig: VHT Pittbull + Axe FX II

    iTrader: 3 (100%)

    This is how i learned to play. As a result my alt picking is horrific

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