Is economy picking lazy or better if you have to work all day?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Guido Sarducci, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Guido Sarducci

    Guido Sarducci Member

    Feb 8, 2012
    Issaquah WA
    I mean you can judge it too fast if alternate is hard to learn and dragging the pick is easy right away. So you assume too fast economy is better. But I have looked everywhere on the internet and the only examples I can find of fast 3 nps scales with strict alternate are a few professionals that have all day to play guitar. Maybe people who only have 2-3 hours at night should use alternate slow/sweep picking fast?

    Cello/viola/violin... are all tuned to fifth intervals. So that makes easier 4 note per string scales. More notes per string and less "outside" string changes. Everything is easier for the right hand. 3 notes per string is hard to pick fast.
  2. Manicstarseed

    Manicstarseed Member

    Nov 13, 2011
    I'm a working stiff. My alternate picking is coming along. Yes, if I was a starving musician, It would be mastered by now. It will be mastered some day.

    Alternate picking, for me is not about speed, but instead, its about maintaining a rhythmic groove while single picking.
  3. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Use them both for the sounds they give. You want all the textures at your fingertips. My favorite players are the ones that mix both.
  4. sixesandsevens

    sixesandsevens Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Central Maryland

    OP - How fast are you talking about playing?

    For ramping up on alternate picking, I found the early Hot Licks video from Paul Gilbert (Intense Rock?) to be a good intro.

    In particular, he starts off with a lick that covers four consecutive scale tones (three on one string, one on the next). If I recall, he points out that it's the string-to-string transition that normally trips folks up, and suggests that if you really put an extra emphasis on working that transition, it makes it MUCH easier to work the 3-nps patterns consistently. He sort of rocks (pun intended) this pattern back and forth and then later does it descending as well before he begins to expand from that to groupings like four-up-two-back-six-up, groups of six, etc. and (as expected) really emphasizes 3-nps scale fingerings.

    There's a Guthrie Govan video from Guitar World where he makes a similar point in the context of tapped arpeggios.
  5. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2006
    I've never thought of economy picking as any kind of shortcut. It has advantages and disadvantages. It is easy in certain ways and difficult in other ways.
  6. Red_Label

    Red_Label Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2007
    I've been using primarily economy picking for the past 25 years or so. So much so, that it's really hard for me to force myself to always do strict-alternating -- especially on string-to-string transitions. It just comes too naturally for me to sweep both strings. Most players who watch me play become quite "fascinated" (or maybe "weirded-out" is a better word... LOL!) with my circular picking style.

    For years I've considered this a weakness and have desired to change it, but every time I really sit down and try, I always end-up just saying to myself "it's part of who you are now -- just accept it". Sounds like the conscience of a lazy person! Ha ha.

    At any rate, I very recently just made a big change in musical direction and am selling-off a bunch of my electric gear and replacing with nylon string gear. I've dreamed of doing a Nuevo Flamenco type gig for over 15 years and I'm going to go for it. I used to play classical fingerstyle, but this time out I'm going to "cheat" and use my pick since I can play lead/scales a LOT faster and more powerfully with my pick than I can with my fingers. What I'm finding with my economy picking style is that it works very well at simulating a flamenco sound. I get a good snap out of the strings and it's a little more "choppy" and "raspy" the way a traditional flamenco player sounds when he's ripping it up (Sabicas anyone?). I will say that I have also been working more and more on my strict alternating picking and there are certainly very good reasons for me to do that. But I'm now feeling that my economy picking isn't as much of a negative for me as it used to feel like it was.

    Anyways... to newer players I would definitely say, master strict alternate first. I still believe that it's the "better" way of learning to play because of its precision and the ability to improv phrasing and timing better. I read it somewhere years ago that was a big benefit of that technique -- whereas with economy picking you pretty much have to rehearse phrases and timing and get them into your fingers. That's certainly been the case for me over the years.
  7. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Haunting Mid-west
    I've never considered one type of picking wrong or right. They all have equal moral value as long as the sound you're looking for is achieved.

    Sure it would be nice to be proficient in every style but who has the time for that kind of practice? Personally, while I do use an economy style sometimes, I find I'm doing it unconsciously. Sitting down and practicing 3nps scales with the 1-2-3-PUSH or the 1-2-3-PULL rhythm of economy style is unnatural to me. I almost never play that type of up and down scales thing anyway unless it's part of a lesson or a situation where I'm warming-up.

    TLDR version:

    Economy style is not immoral.
  8. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

    May 30, 2007
    It depends on what you want out of music.

    When I do work on single-note lines, I use a mix of alternate and sweep picking. Dividing, say, a 2 hour session into 1 hour of alternate picking exercises and 1 hour of sweep picking exercises would be a waste of time for me. I don't care what precise percentage of techniques are used in the final product - I only care about the line being played cleanly and in good time.

    I also don't care if another guitarist is sweep picking, rake picking, mowing, whatever on his guitar. Only if what he plays sounds good.
  9. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer
    I don't know, my goal isn't to play 3nps scales as fast as I can. But for the kinds of lines I like to play I've found economy picking to work the best most of the time.
  10. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    I've seen countless students that can't really play slop through what appears to be a variation on economy picking. If someone is making music I don't care how they accomplish it. I played a gig with Ratzo Harris where he played a fine bass solo and told a funny joke while using his chin to depress the strings on the fingerboard.
    I like to see students be able to use alternate picking before they sweep.
    I consider up and down strumming alternate picking, with the same beneficial pendulum-like time-keeping functions.
  11. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

    Jan 8, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    My thoughts are, alternate and economy both have a very specific and unique sound. What I've ended up doing is to let the line and phrasing itself dictate the picking choice, rather than slap alternate or economy over everything.
  12. Guitarchitecture

    Guitarchitecture Member

    May 25, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    +1 on this. I find them to be very different sounds. There's an aggression that you can express with alternate picking that you can't get with sweeping - and a more legato feel that you can get (while still picking every note) from sweeping than alternate picking.

    To get either one really down - you should plan on putting some focused work in (but it's worth the effort)!

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