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  • Shred: What's wrong with economy picking?

    I'm a wannabe shredder. Whenever I'm out looking at instructionals for things like speedpicking, the pros seem to feel it's a bad technique to economy pick and endorse full alternate picking.

    Why?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX8Rlckxuro


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  • #2
    I'll start by saying I don't have an answer for you.

    But this is something I've always wondered too.

    I've always played with economy picking - just seemed obvious in the absence of a teacher that it's the most efficient way to play...

    Only recently have I been practicing my scales and solos with strict alternate picking - and it's like starting over... My right hand/forearm muscles get a nice deep burn by the end of a practice session, and I really felt retarded at the beginning.

    But with the exception of my tremolo picking speed increasing, I can see no real benefit in doing it this way if you've always used economy...

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    • #3
      I have an answer. Alternate picking - at least the fully developed pro version, allows inflective and dynamic control of every single note in a passage or shred stream or whatever you alternate pick on. It's your life. I think it's preferred by many shredders because you learn one consistent motion and it's easily bullet proofed.
      Economy picking has more of a self fulfilling set of inflections. Slurs, swallows, and bouncy rhythms, are at least partly the result of the drags and partial sweeps involved.
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      • #4
        Economy picking has more of a self fulfilling set of inflections. Slurs, swallows, and bouncy rhythms, are at least partly the result of the drags and partial sweeps involved.


        Is it not possible to improve upon these kind of flaws within economy picking? Or actually, are these really the flaws of the picking method or the person applying the picking method? I ask this question mainly because of one man: Frank Gambale. Now, doesn't he use just economy picking or is that not true?
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        • #5
          As you can probably surmise, they aren't flaws at all. After decades of evolution, they are part of the way guitar is spoken. Many are genius fluent at it. Economy picking at least on the surface seems more natural. It does to me. From a technical stand point though, what if you don't want a slick jazzy feel. Well as long as you economy pick, you'll have a wonderfully long time trying to stop.
          A clearer scenario might be, what if you wanted to invert all the dynamic contours of a certain passage 180 degrees? With alternate picking you have the means.
          I started alternate picking when I started hanging out here a couple years back. I'm more or less committed to taking it to a player level. I can still do all the intuitive lazy stuff I 'taught' myself but more and more it's alternate picking I turn to.
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          • #6
            I'm a wannabe shredder. Whenever I'm out looking at instructionals for things like speedpicking, the pros seem to feel it's a bad technique to economy pick and endorse full alternate picking.

            Why?


            Depends which pro you're talking about, some favour alternate, some favour economy. Some endorse both, some endorse neither.

            Those who favour alternate generally say that it gives them better rhythmic sensibility. Those who favour economy generally say it is fast and more efficient.

            Bottom line is that both are good... do whichever feels more natural.

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            • #7
              I tend toward alternate picking. Not because it's "right."

              Even though I can do both techniques, it's a little harder (for me) to keep the phrases in time using economy picking.

              Having said that, I tend to mix techniques a lot, but I do favor "alternate" over "economy" picking.

              My philosophy is that if it's coming out of the amp the way you want, it's right.

              It's the music, not the technique.

              I hope that helps!

              Jon
              Thinking too much produces exactly the opposite of the intended outcome.

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              • #8
                Is it not possible to improve upon these kind of flaws within economy picking? Or actually, are these really the flaws of the picking method or the person applying the picking method?



                There's always room for improvement, but in this case, you're fighting simple physics in what will largely be a losing battle. The reason for this is that economy picking makes use of momentum; two or more notes are being sounded with a single pick stroke that has a certain amount of 'steam' to it. You can alter that stroke along the way to some degree, but not with anywhere the control you'd have over a completely new pick stroke in the opposite direction. By using a unique stroke for each note, you have the greatest control over tone, dynamics, and articulation...using economy strokes, that's just not the case.

                I equate the pick with a violinist's bow--it's really the heart and soul of our tone production. Not the fret hand, not the amp, but the pick. What makes it especially difficult is that the pick is in contact with the string for a tiny fraction of a second, and you get ONE chance to hit a note the right way. You can't adjust it after the fact...it's too late.
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                • #9
                  Check out Frank Gambale on you tube, and you will see that there is nothing wrong with economy picking. Remember just because someone else says that something is right or wrong doesn't mean that it is. If it sounds great, it is. Just do what works best for you.
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                  • #10
                    Each type takes practice. I use both, but am primarily an alternating picker. But, I don't make a conscious rule to ONLY play one way. IOW, I use what it most comfortable for me. And many times those shredder instruction guys use both too, although they promote one way. Keep an eye on them.

                    I am not much for the full arpeggio shredding licks, try to void them for the most part. So, many of my arps are alternate picking but the economy picking shows up more in "repetitive" type licks. It provides more of a roll but mostly it's just how I play it.
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                    • #11
                      No matter what Frank Gambale plays, it has the same sort of phrasing to it. On one hand, that sort of his signature, but on the other hand its a facet of his technique. It's a great technique, but it does have a particular sound to it. Alternate picking is a bit more pliable as far as sound goes. There's nothing "wrong" per se with economy picking, but it is kind of like tapping. It has its own sound and effect that can get in the way of the music if used in the wrong place. Shawn Lane is a super picker that uses both alternate and economy picking to extreme degrees. He uses them to communicate certain ideas that are appropriate with each technique. If you can, I say do both.
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                      • #12
                        I'd agree that you probably want to learn both economy and alternate picking styles. The sound will be different for each technique. Not right or wrong, or better or worse. Just different. It's up to you to decide which is the most appropriate technique for any given musical situation.

                        One thing that I believe is important in economy picking is the use of rest-strokes. If you're not familiar with rest-strokes, check out some classical guitar technique books, then think about applying this concept with a pick. And think about why it's necessary.

                        And also, just so you've got all your tonal bases covered, you should probably learn to play everything you normally do with a pick without one. That is just using your fingers.
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                        • #13
                          Learn both. They both have their uses I think and both offer a unique distinctive tone.

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                          • #14
                            Yes - learn both.

                            I'd been playing professionally full time for about 4 or 5 years before I even thought about my right hand.

                            Lots of time on the road, so I ordered Paul Gilberts Intense Rock I and went to town. It really didn't take too long to break the old bad habits and get the alternate picking happening. You'd better believe I went through a phase of proving to myself that I could do it onstage and really annoyed the crap out of my bandmates because I would fill every little hole in the music with insanely fast alternate picked scale sequences.

                            Later on, I did the same thing with economy picking.

                            After all that, I just don't think about it - ever. My right hand just instinctively does what it does.

                            And FWIW - Frank Gambale doesn't strictly economy pick - nobody does. It's impossible.
                            Russ
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                            • #15
                              Another older style of picking to be aware of is the way gypsy jazz players pick.

                              There are a couple rules:

                              1. Start every beat with a down stroke.
                              2. Every time you change strings use a down stroke.

                              Otherwise alternate.

                              This means you often have consecutive downstrokes.

                              Crossing to a higher string, or going up an arpeggio is just like economy, or sweep picking. Crossing to a lower string or going down an arpeggio is like anti-economy picking.

                              If you are playing triplets on one string for example, it would be down-up-down down-up-down ect...

                              I've known from listening that the gypsy jazz guys are some of the fastest pickers around, but when I read about their 'rules' for picking, I thought this can't be right. Then I took a lesson from a guy that really plays this style authentically and couldn't believe how well those rules worked. They seem very counter-intuitive.

                              And it provided him with a certain tone that alternate picking or economy picking don't have.

                              Plus those gypsy jazz guys use a lot of rest-strokes, which you rarely see pick-style players use.

                              Just food for thought...
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                              • oceanjaws
                                oceanjaws commented
                                Editing a comment

                                Has anyone mentioned swing yet?

                                I am currently practising my arpeggios with economy picking, having trained myself with strict alternating. But I think it's almost impossible to really swing with economy picking.

                                Does that make sense?









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