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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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:
https://nikowenby.tumblr.com/

Anyway, ECONOMY PLAYING.

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)
or
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.


ECONOMY EXERCISE
(A good exercise to develop the technique used, using the A natural minor scale).
USE A METRONOME, START SLOWLY, ONLY INCREASE BPM WHEN YOU'VE NAILED IT. Bring the bpm back down if you don't.

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.

E||------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B||-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G||------------------------------------------------------5-----------------------------------------------------------
D||-------------------------------5--------------5-7-9----9-7-5-------------5-------------------------------------
A||--------5--------------5-7-8-----8-7-5-7-8-------------------8-7-5-7-8----8-7-5--------------5--------------
E||-5-7-8----8-7-5-7-8-----------------------------------------------------------------8-7-5-7-8-----8-7-5-7-8-
&&-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:

E||---------------
B||---------------
G||---------------
D||---------------
A||--------5------
E||-5-7-8----8-7-
&&-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.

Thanks!

-Arkta-
 
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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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!
 

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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 :lol:




I mean ..it's not technically perfect & the timing, pitch etc may be a bit off here & there (as is usually pointed out :lmao:) ..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 :yesway:
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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.
Frank Gambale was my personal go to inspiration for Economy playing. The man is smooth as butter.

I definitely gained a lot, borrowing from his Eric Johnson-esque intervallic approach to pentatonics.:

 

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המרחב וה
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This guy will kill just about anyone with Economy Picking:

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
This guy will kill just about anyone with Economy Picking:

I'm a MASSIVE Marshall Harrison fan. There was another post where a player had this beautiful flowing piano-legato. It was actually Harrison's video that taught me the difference between the Van Haleney nonsense and the next level echelon sensitivity of someone like holdsworth (of whom Harrison is a HUGE admirer). I've been following him since I was a kid and since he was a lot younger.

Now that I've hyped up his contribution, I'm basically obligated to post said video now. One of the most important lessons in my life:

(NO SERIOUSLY, IT IS WORTH ANY GUITARIST WORTH THEIR SALT TAKING NOTICE)


Even if you don't like Holdsworth, it is worth you knowing the difference.

**EDIT: It is worth noting for anyone looking into this, if you are getting the hang of it the first few go rounds, you are probably doing it WRONG.**

And because I want to give credit where credit is do, JACKSONPLAYER is who I was referring to from the other post. The dude's legato is on point:

 

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Soooo, I thought alternate picking was hitting the note with a down stroke then an up stroke. Then you guys are talking about economy picking, which I thought was basically sweeping picking. Are you refering to these 2 different things as the same thing?


And for that lick in the first post. I find playing down up down up ect. JUST as valid as this down up down down up business. I can do it either way and one isn't any faster than the other. I don't get the point. Seems purely like a playing style choice.
 

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Soooo, I thought alternate picking was hitting the note with a down stroke then an up stroke. Then you guys are talking about economy picking, which I thought was basically sweeping picking. Are you refering to these 2 different things as the same thing?

And for that lick in the first post. I find playing down up down up ect. JUST as valid as this down up down down up business. I can do it either way and one isn't any faster than the other. I don't get the point. Seems purely like a playing style choice.
What this thread is apparently about is "directional picking" (combining alternate & sweep picking) which is often confused with economy picking (which basically means 'not picking every note' ..like BB King or practically every other blues guy, a lot of shredders & just many guitar players in general..). Economy picking is just that - being economical with your picking...it's got nothing to do with sweep picking specifically..
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
What this thread is apparently about is "directional picking" (combining alternate & sweep picking) which is often confused with economy picking (which basically means 'not picking every note' ..like BB King or practically every other blues guy, a lot of shredders & just many guitar players in general..). Economy picking is just that - being economical with your picking...it's got nothing to do with sweep picking specifically..
Exactly. And please be advised, the instruction mentioned was an exercise in coming to grips with the awkwardness of the style. It affords you breaks without punishing you harshly for much inconsistency. Hell, it's a glorified Paul Gilbert lick, only not approaching it with the tacky awkwardness of alternate picking it... which would impose quite a few technical limitations. Not only that, but the beauty of incorporating economy technique, is it doesn't take you out of your "creative flow" to where you are really less playing and more just barely struggling to get to the end of a bar; See my original post, it just isn't the way things should be done imo.

Can I take the time to address what I find to be a huge fallacy in the guitar community? This silly idea(or some variation of) that "this just works for me"/"do what works for you"/"do what is comfortable". I mean, I COULD hand-scythe down a wheat field, but just because I can't operate a John Deere doesn't make the former practical. It just means I'm squandering opportunities to make it easier.

Keep in mind, there are genre staples and stylistic reasons not to play something practically or even sensibly (see everything to do with traditional blues), but this is not what I'm arguing against. Just wanted to put that out there in case that strawman pops up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Soooo, I thought alternate picking was hitting the note with a down stroke then an up stroke. Then you guys are talking about economy picking, which I thought was basically sweeping picking. Are you refering to these 2 different things as the same thing?

And for that lick in the first post. I find playing down up down up ect. JUST as valid as this down up down down up business. I can do it either way and one isn't any faster than the other. I don't get the point. Seems purely like a playing style choice.
Sweeping is exactly that: sweeping.

This crops up a bit, so it is worth pointing out that many people see it as two clashing schools of thought, when in reality they are both just tools at your disposal to make your job easier.

With that said, it is called economy for a reason. Especially when it comes to guitar, I don't like to speak in absolutes, but there are just times where the economy approach wins hands down. It goes beyond a stylistic preference imo, but it's purely situational. There are times where it is highly impractical.
 
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