Economy Picking: What Is It And How To Use It To Upgrade Your Guitar Playing

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 26, 2022

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Economy picking is a guitar picking technique designed to maximize picking efficiency by combining alternate picking and sweep picking; it may also incorporate the use of legato in the middle of alternate picking passages as way to achieve higher speed with less pick strokes.

What is economy picking


Economy picking is a type of playing technique used by guitarists to make their playing faster, easier and more efficient. It involves playing alternate picking while taking advantage of string skipping and other related techniques to minimize the number of pick strokes needed to play a phrase or lick. This can allow a guitarist to increase their speed as well as their control over the notes they are playing. Furthermore, by mastering economy picking it’s possible to develop some amazing and creative guitar solos.

In this article we will provide an overview of economy picking, its benefits and how experienced guitar players can use it effectively in their performances. We will also cover exercises that you can practice in order to become more proficient at using this technique in your own guitar playing.

What is Economy Picking?

Economy picking is a guitar technique that combines alternate picking and sweep picking, allowing you to play complex passages with greater precision and speed. In economy picking, you alternate between two picking directions, using alternate picking when the strings you’re playing are in the same direction, and sweep picking when the strings are in different directions. Let’s explore how economy picking can help you upgrade your guitar playing.


Economy Picking is a hybrid picking technique that combines alternate and sweep picking. The idea behind this technique is to create a smooth, economical flow in your playing. It eliminates the need to constantly switch between alternate and sweep picking motions, as it uses one continuous string-crossing motion.

In Economy Picking, you use the same picking direction for two or more notes on adjacent strings – whether that direction is downstrokes or upstrokes. This provides a consistent sound and eliminates any “holes” in your playing where you might miss out on some notes. It also creates interesting patterns by connecting different areas of the fretboard as opposed to just following one guitar string sequentially.

Economy Picking can be used in any style of music – from Jazz, Rock, Blues and Metal to Acoustic Fingerstyle and Classical Guitar styles. It provides a great way of making faster passages sound articulate and clean without having to resort to strict alternate or sweep picking techniques that require lots of practice to master.


Economy picking is playing multiple notes on one string before transitioning to the next. This approach can provide a number of benefits to a guitar player’s technique and overall sound. Here are the primary advantages of economy picking:

• Increased Speed – By using an economy picking technique, guitarists are able to move quickly through licks, sweeps and runs at a much faster rate than traditional alternate picking. This improved speed can help guitarists play more complex passages with greater accuracy and clarity.

• Greater Endurance – By taking advantage of all fingers’ potential and transitioning quickly between strings, players will be less prone to fatigue while they play. This improved stamina translates into less arm pain during long practices and live performances.

• Increased Precision – With economy picking comes increased geography awareness. As the player progresses through a phrase, their focus will naturally begin moving up and down strings as opposed to focusing solely on technique for each individual pick stroke. As the player increases their geography awareness, precision in their phrasing also increases significantly due to the natural increase in focus for each movement.

• Improved Tone Quality – Due to an ability to articulate phrases more accurately, players will find that string muting becomes much easier as long as they keep an appropriate balance between physical relaxation and tension when playing with this technique—which leads into increased clarity of tone especially during faster passages of music. Furthermore, by picking across strings while keeping all suitable notes clear, players can harmonise individual notes easier which translates into improved melodic phrasing over time with this approach (as opposed to abrupt transitions).

How to Practice Economy Picking

Economy picking is an important technique for any musician, especially guitarists, because this method of playing allows you to play complex passages in a more efficient manner. This technique is sometimes referred to as “shredding” because of its fast and precise execution. To master economy picking, it is important to understand the basics of alternate picking and to practice the technique regularly. Let’s dive deeper into what economy picking is and how to use it to upgrade your guitar playing.

Start with Single Notes

Economy picking is a technique used in guitar playing which enables the guitar player to use the same picking direction and similar motion throughout, or ‘economize’ their motions to create smooth, intricate, and addictive-sounding lines. Although it’s commonly used for shredding at faster speeds, it can also be applied to most genres of guitar playing. To get started with this style of playing, it’s important to understand the basic fundamentals of economy picking before attempting more difficult and complex techniques.

A good place to begin mastery of this style is by practicing single notes and understanding how economy picking may coordinate with string changes— especially across different note values. As a beginning point in practicing this technique properly, start by starting simple—single notes on ascending adjacent strings. Moving up between strings while keeping the same picking stroke direction can feel strange at first but will eventually become second nature as you groove through scales. Pay close attention to each note; as you move up a scale shape and/or across strings towards higher notes, oppose your regular motion with downstrokes for better accuracy and clarity when switching strings and/or moving beyond single note scalar shapes (e.g., melodic patterns).

Performing downward passes utilizing exactly the opposite picked directions facilitates smoother transitions when leaping from one string into another during fast two-handed scale runs or when transitioning rapidly between chords while keeping time with your foot (as in rhythm timing). Alternating picked directions across multiple strings moves allows you to reintegrate into the sequence seamlessly after completing any given lick or phrase. Economy picking can be a great way to build speed–keeping up with eighth notes or faster passages–while having fluidity between rapid downshifts into lower positions on the fretboard during short scale runs, chromatic licks behind lead phrases, etc..

Economy picking requires some level of precision if you prefer accuracy while blazing your way through licks at higher tempos; if done correctly it will allow all guitarists from any genre(s) or skill level unlock their fretboard fretwork potential at lightning speeds –armed only with two hands (and feet)!

Move on to Two-note Patterns

Now that you’ve become comfortable with the one-note patterns, it’s time to move on to two-note patterns. This will involve playing two notes at a time. Start out by picking the highest note of the two first. So, if you’re running a scale, it’s best to pick G-E or A – F etc., depending on what key you’re in. Remembering to alternate up and down strokes when shifting your pick direction is important here.

Moving your fretting hand along one string is another way to practice economy picking. This can be done by using single notes or even octaves depending on what sound you want and what sounds the music calls for. Using scales and arpeggios together with alternate picking is a great way to practice improvising with economy picking techniques as well as learning them for use in songs played live or in recordings . You could also play pentatonic scales alternating between single notes and double stops (two notes played at once).

Economy picking requires patience and commitment, but it can completely transform how you play guitar! In order to master this style of playing, remember practice makes perfect and make sure you work on one particular concept at a time until its embedded into your playing muscle memory before moving onto another concept. Have fun!

Practice with Chords

When it comes to learning how to practice economy picking, one of the best starting points is to work with basic guitar chords. Economy picking can help you create smooth moving chord progressions. As you transition from one chord to another, you’ll find that string changes are easier and sound more natural.

To practice economy picking with chords, start by picking dowstrokes on the bass strings of a particular chord. Then play some upstrokes on the treble strings and then repeat this pattern as needed until you’re comfortable with it. You’ll also want to practice playing quick back-and-forth between two adjacent strings and creating harmonized lines in different octaves.

Once you’ve practiced transitioning between simple chords, try adding in more complex chords into your practice routine. This will give you a better understanding of how economic picking works when playing variations of a common or extended chord. Doing this will train your finger flexibility and increase your accuracy when shifting between frets or strings during transitions.

By working slowly and being patient with yourself, economy picking can become part of your natural guitar technique as well as an exciting complementary approach to single-pick string movements. With consistent practice over time, this technique will not only make you sound better but also give your lead work welcome variety!

Tips for Mastering Economy Picking

Economy picking is a guitar playing technique which allows you to play faster, cleaner and more accurately with fewer notes. It requires a strong sense of timing and accuracy, so it can take time to master. It is a great way to upgrade your guitar playing and can help you sound more professional. In this section, we’ll be discussing some tips to help you master economy picking and take your guitar playing to the next level.

Use a Metronome

Using a metronome is an essential tool for mastering economy picking. It helps you keep up with your playing speed, precision and accuracy. Not only will it help you stay in time with the music, but it can also be used to create new exercises and challenges that you can incorporate into your practice routine.

When working on a new passage using the economy picking technique, focusing on the timing meter of the metronome helps you determine the optimal way to transition between notes and chords. It allows you to play at different tempos so that, as your skill level increases, you can gradually work up towards faster speeds. This gradual increase is key in developing your muscle memory and increasing your accuracy.

Using a metronome can also help with playing scales as it can be set to mimic certain scales and allow you to practice them at various tempos within a song or piece of music. Additionally, listening to the steady beat of a metronome will encourage rhythmic control so that each note is played precisely when desired within each bar or measure instead of forcing an uneven streak due to incorrect timing for transitioning between notes.

Ultimately, mastering economy picking requires dedication to consistent practice with a metronome so that musical passages come out even in combining both single-note runs and chords in one continuous stream while keeping track of their proper place on the fretboard or guitar strings.

Find the Right Tempo

One of the most important things to keep in mind when learning economy picking is to find the right tempo. The tempo you choose largely affects how you play and is determined by the type of music you’re playing. For instance, if you’re playing a style that requires a lot of speed, such as metal, then it would be best to choose a faster tempo than if you were playing something like jazz or blues. To find the right tempo, try picking separate notes with different tempos then gradually increasing your speed until it feels natural.

Once you’ve found a comfortable speed it’s important to practice your scales at different tempos and with different rhythms to make sure your technique doesn’t become too rigid. For example, if you are focusing on economy picking in 4/4 time (four notes per beat), try practicing in triplets or 8th notes as well. Doing this helps develop your dexterity and fluidity while also allowing you to explore different ideas in terms of rhythm and dynamics.

Focus on Accuracy

When it comes to getting the most out of your economy picking, accuracy should be your number one priority. Because economy picking combines alternate picking and sweep picking, there is a lot of coordination needed to move from one technique to the other smoothly. To do this, you need to focus on precision so that each movement and transition is smooth and consistent.

To improve your accuracy, try breaking down the movement into smaller chunks. Focusing on individual notes at first can help you build up confidence in each part of a lick or phrase and will make it easier for you to play faster as only small increments of accuracy need to be improved when learning a new section at speed.

By taking this methodical approach, you’ll soon find that your overall playing becomes more fluid and accurate which will help you achieve maximum efficiency when economy picking. Additionally, practice slowly as well as fast – being able to control your speed is essential when it comes to playing correctly at any tempo.


In conclusion, economy picking can be used to make your guitar playing much more efficient and improve the transitions between notes. It takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to play runs faster and cleaner with less effort.

Remember – practice makes perfect! Spend some time experimenting with economy picking techniques so that you can become more fluid and competent in your playing. Make sure to get as comfortable as possible before taking it out on a live performance – it will make all the difference!

Economy picking is a great tool for any level guitar player, so don’t overlook its potential benefits for your own style. The possibilities of application range from fast leads to complex fingerpicking phrases, so take the time to find what works for you and let economy picking take your music even higher.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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