Picking technique - economy? alternating? both?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by AndyPanda, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Meister

    Sep 4, 2019
    Bay Area, California
    I'm fairly new to guitar but long time musician on other instruments. I'm retired and have lots of time and I'm enjoying putting in a lot of practice time -- and I just want to make sure I'm practicing things that are useful and not just embedding bad habits that I'll have to come back and unlearn later.

    I see a lot of different picking techniques and want to make sure I know what the correct terms are for them so when I ask questions we will be talking about the same thing.

    One method I see ... I think this is called strict alternating ... is to always alternate (regardless of whether it's a downbeat or an upbeat)

    Another method I see ... particularly with bluegrass mandolin players ... is to always downstroke on the downbeat and to accent the beats. So when playing syncopation you might be playing several downstrokes (or upstrokes) one after another so that the downstrokes are on the beats and the upstrokes are on the offbeats.

    Another method is see .. I think this is called "economy picking" .. where if you use whichever stroke is easiest depending on which string you are moving to.

    I'm practicing a lot of different scales in various positions and I'm just starting to get comfortable with shifting between positions within a phrase. I also practice a lot of patterns that are designed to be difficult (say the last note is a downstroke on the A string and the next note will be an upstroke on the G string - that sort of thing) to get comfortable with alternating picking.

    My suspicion is that as I gradually start to develop speed, it will be easier to play really fast tempos accurately with alternating rather than economy. I find that if I practice a difficult pattern slowly (making myself alternate rather than economy) it becomes easy and natural pretty quickly.

    Got any great picking exercises you recommend?

    Think I should practice all methods and use whichever method works best for a particular phrase? Or should I stick with one method?
  2. duzie

    duzie Tele-Meister

    Jul 8, 2017
    Nw New Jersey
    Here’s one of many lessons on YouTube.
    Carl Brown has many free lessons that can be useful!
  3. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2009
    Plundertown (Gasville) OR
    Both, if I understand you right, as far as the strokes go. But lately I googled "cross-picking", and it's given me a freedom to work all the time with two, three, or sometimes four strings--no barre chords :)--and I can focus better on my picking hand somehow. I've had a general surge in fluency lately, and I think this is a lot of the reason.
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