SORT YOUR PICKING PT2 Economy picking
In part 2 of his three-part series, Phil Capone shows you a fast, efficient picking style that’s not all about shred!
The technique of economy picking, where adjacent strings are picked with consecutive down or up-picks, has been around longer than you might think. Django Reinhardt used economy picking to create his incredibly fluid solos. The late, great Les Paul also used economy picking as part of his virtuoso technique. And let’s not forget that jazz guitarists have been playing sweep picked arpeggios since the days of bebop. But it was during the 80s and 90s that economy and sweep picking became the techniques for creating full shred solos. Undoubtedly one of the catalysts for this obsession with speed and gymnastic ability was the solo Eddie Van Halen played on Michael Jackson’s Beat It. The single dominated the airwaves on its release, simultaneously making Van Halen a household name and making a lot of session guys very afraid. His soloing pyrotechnics pushed the envelope of what people thought was possible on the guitar and, of course (for better or worse), tapping became the ‘in’ thing to do and an easy way to impress.
Don’t switch off if you’re not a fan of relentless sweep picking as that’s definitely
not what we’ll be focusing on here. The idea is to explore some of the principles of economy picking that you may or may not have tried already; presenting them in realistic and practical scenarios to illustrate how effective and musical this technique can be. Ideally, this is an opportunity for you to experiment and cherry pick; to incorporate some of these concepts into your existing technique, rather than feeling you’ll need to rethink your whole approach. Even if you don’t use economy picking as the mainstay of your technique, it’s a great thing to practise since it will improve your picking control while simultaneously streamlining the coordination between your picking and fretting hands. So, it’s a win-win situation!
The examples in this article have been grouped to specifically build your technique gradually. Examples 1-4 focus on economy picking across two strings only, allowing you to build the technique gradually and adjust to the demands of playing consecutive down and up-picks without losing rhythmic control. In examples 5-8 you will be expanding your technique across three strings, including 7th arpeggios (maj7, m7 etc) and learning a radical new shape for the minor Pentatonic scale. In examples 9-12, four-string patterns cover triads in root position, triad inversions, plus some cool triadic substitutions are used to create fusion flavours. Examples 13-17 deal with five-string arpeggios and licks, plus a couple of invaluable six-string scale patterns.
Example 18 is your final workout. Instead of a predictable metal-style pay-off, I’ve opted for a good ’ole shuffle blues with a head and solo that illustrates how versatile (and musical) economy picking can be (it dovetails perfectly with Richard’s cover feature too!). As with last month’s alternate picking article, remember the only way to master any technique is to incorporate it into your daily routine, using a metronome at all times.
Don’t Switch off if You’rE not a fan of rElEntlESS SwEEP Picking aS that’S DEfinitElY not what wE’ll bE focuSing on
In the second instalment of our three-part series on improving your picking, Phil Capone shows how to develop a fast and efficient economy picking technique that’s not all about shred!