#1
I have always, since I found out you can use both upstrokes and downstrokes, used economy picking.
At first I didn't even know alternate picking was a thing, and I still don't really get it.
I mean, if I'm ending a sequence on a downstroke, why would I go all the way to be under the next string to do an upstroke, and not just continue with the same motion?
But lots of great guitarists seem to use this technique, so I'm probably missing something, any insights?
#2
I'm a strict alternate picker (but not good or fast by any means, still working on it) and my guess would be that alternate picking has a certain symmetry as far as movement goes, which helps with improvising licks when you internalize the mechanics of the technique, while improvising using economy picking often requires a set of practiced licks if one wants to play some advanced/fast licks.

Also, some people prefer the aggressive attack of alternate picking compared to the more smoother sound of economy picking.
#3
economy picking is better/faster, the problem on this sight is that frequently people mistake alternate picking (playing everything downstroke upstroke) with tremolo picking (a sort of up and down twitch technique) tremolo picking is used heavily in metal to create insanely fast runs, and can be combined with sweep picking and tapping in an economy style really push shred guitar
#4
Quote by Bad Kharmel
economy picking is better


Subjective and highly situational.

faster


The fastest runs tend to be strict alternate picking since because it's easier at ultra high speeds, particularly when improvising.

the problem on this sight is that frequently people mistake alternate picking (playing everything downstroke upstroke) with tremolo picking (a sort of up and down twitch technique)


The regulars of this forum tend to know their terms, but I'm not so sure that you do considering those descriptions.

tremolo picking is used heavily in metal to create insanely fast runs


Tremolo picking consists of rapid alternate picking of a single repeated note. It would appear that you are talking about alternate picking.

and can be combined with sweep picking and tapping in an economy style really push shred guitar


Tapping is not part of economy picking.
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#5
Quote by Scratcher17
I'm a strict alternate picker (but not good or fast by any means, still working on it) and my guess would be that alternate picking has a certain symmetry as far as movement goes, which helps with improvising licks when you internalize the mechanics of the technique, while improvising using economy picking often requires a set of practiced licks if one wants to play some advanced/fast licks.

Not really true, since true improvisation at high speed is basically impossible unless your name is Allan Holdsworth or Guthrie Govan. Almost no one actually improvises at what would be called "shred" speeds, although you can practice things in a way that it sounds more improvisational than it is. Not that this isn't what we should be aiming for, but the truth of it is that really improvising at high speed is just about the most difficult thing to do in the real of guitar.

Quote by Scratcher17
Also, some people prefer the aggressive attack of alternate picking compared to the more smoother sound of economy picking.

This is true though.

Quote by Bad Kharmel
economy picking is better/faster

Theoretically true... but not in practice. All the fastest pickers hover around the same pace for their picking licks, no matter which technique they use. It's certainly not "better" either; both techniques lend themselves more to certain ideas and certain sounds.

Quote by Bad Kharmel
the problem on this sight is that frequently people mistake alternate picking (playing everything downstroke upstroke) with tremolo picking (a sort of up and down twitch technique) tremolo picking is used heavily in metal to create insanely fast runs, and can be combined with sweep picking and tapping in an economy style really push shred guitar

Physically speaking, tremolo picking and alternate picking are the exact same thing. Tremolo is a sound, not a technique. In classical guitar it's a technique but that is actually something you can differentiate from everything else they do. For picked-guitar purposes it's not a technique at all.

Quote by Lord hazel
I have always, since I found out you can use both upstrokes and downstrokes, used economy picking.
At first I didn't even know alternate picking was a thing, and I still don't really get it.
I mean, if I'm ending a sequence on a downstroke, why would I go all the way to be under the next string to do an upstroke, and not just continue with the same motion? But lots of great guitarists seem to use this technique, so I'm probably missing something, any insights?

There are two reasons really:

1 - Simplicity of execution. With alternate picking everything is picked basically the same way. That's not to say that great economy pickers really have to think about what they're doing but to someone just starting out the simplicity of up-down-repeat has a lot of allure. Once you've gotten past a certain point in practice this really doesn't matter though, either way becomes plenty natural in time.

2 - Sound. Alternate picking has a specific tone, and when you're using it you can get a real snap on your notes more easily. Really this is the prime consideration, or at least it should be.

3 - Playing style. As I said above, economy picking and alternate picking really lend themselves to certain ideas more than others. You tend to find that economy pickers use a lot more arpeggio based ideas where being able to smoothly play one note on any string is very helpful and scalar runs these guys use tend to be very linear and not hugely pattern based. Strict alternate pickers tend to be more scale and chromatically focused with repeating patterns a lot in their playing. Like, if you contrast the playing of someone like Frank Gambale and Paul Gilbert the difference in approaches becomes pretty obvious, at least to me. Frank is a dedicated economy picker and Paul is a die-hard alternate picker and, at least to me, they are really archetypal of the styles those kinds of players use. That's not to say that you can't play either person's ideas with the other technique, it's just not what they do.
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#6
Not really true, since true improvisation at high speed is basically impossible unless your name is Allan Holdsworth or Guthrie Govan. Almost no one actually improvises at what would be called "shred" speeds, although you can practice things in a way that it sounds more improvisational than it is. Not that this isn't what we should be aiming for, but the truth of it is that really improvising at high speed is just about the most difficult thing to do in the real of guitar.


Yeah, I guess you're right (Holdsworth and Guthrie are on a level beyond our mortal understanding as far as improvisation goes).
#7
I have always, since I found out you can use both upstrokes and downstrokes, used economy picking. At first I didn't even know alternate picking was a thing, and I still don't really get it. I mean, if I'm ending a sequence on a downstroke, why would I go all the way to be under the next string to do an upstroke, and not just continue with the same motion? But lots of great guitarists seem to use this technique, so I'm probably missing something, any insights?


I once wondered the same thing as you. Why waste the extra time and effort to put the pick on the other side of the string before picking it? Wouldn't that slow things down? Well let me lay down a few things first and then I'll come back to it. As far as I knew, alternate picking was simply up and down motion, and economy picking was just doing that, except with the different strokes when changing the strings. I fancied myself an economy picker for life, because it was only logical. But I had seemed to hit a brick wall in my picking speed for anything but single note tremolo stuff. Then, after years of doing it all wrong, it hit me. Efficient "shred speed" alternate picking is not just up and down picking. You'll never get up to speed if you just focus on the up and down aspects. The trick lies in the way your body naturally reacts to tremolo picking with a single note. Go ahead and give it a try. Pick one string as fast as you can. Notice how little the pick actually moves. Now compare this motion to when you're picking normally. If you're like I used to be, your pick moves around far too much and you probably move your thumb and fingers too (something you don't do when tremolo picking).

So here's the solution: Pick one note really fast like before, but then gradually slow down while MAINTAINING those tiny movements of the pick. Resist the urge to fall back into your regular picking habits. Your wrist should move in a strictly mechanical up and down twitching motion, similar to a broken hand on a clock. Some people argue that the motion should come from the arm, but I personally think the wrist is better. Try both ways and pick one. Practically everyone agrees, though, that your finger and thumb gripping the pick should not move AT ALL! Become familiar with this extremely efficient picking motion and force yourself to use it to play some familiar material very very slowly and override your muscle memory (it'll take time). This needs to become the normal way you pick.

Now that we've established that, back to the original question: Why alternate picking over economy picking? When picking really fast with these extremely efficient motions of the pick, it's a whole lot like turning a fishing reel. Once your pick gets going, back and forth back and forth, it can be somewhat jarring to make it stop and reverse direction and still stay in time with the beat. It would be like reeling in the fishing line really fast, then stopping to reel the other way for a second, then going back to reeling normal again. It's easier to maintain a constant up down motion, sounding a single note per movement of the pick.

Now, I have a question for people who are more experienced than I am. It is my theory that one cannot acquire efficient, fast economy picking without first acquiring efficient, fast alternate picking. I think picking any kind of scalar run lick requires the muscle memory of alternate picking before you can tackle the same lick at the same speed with economy picking. Kind of like we can't learn calculus before we learn algebra. I can't really explain why I have this theory, I just kind of have a gut feeling (I have not developed true efficient economy picking yet). Can anyone shed some light on that for me?
#8
Quote by Bad Kharmel
economy picking is better/faster, the problem on this sight is that frequently people mistake alternate picking (playing everything downstroke upstroke) with tremolo picking (a sort of up and down twitch technique) tremolo picking is used heavily in metal to create insanely fast runs, and can be combined with sweep picking and tapping in an economy style really push shred guitar

Isnt tremolo picking down /up just like alt picking ,
#9
Quote by dazzzer30
Isnt tremolo picking down /up just like alt picking ,


Tremolo picking is fast alt picking on the same note. It's called tremolo picking because, if you're doing it right, it creates a tremolo effect on that note. Not to be confused with vibrato, which is what "tremolo bars" actually do. They got the name "tremolo bar" because Leo Fender had "vibrato" and "tremolo" mixed up when he designed guitars and amps, but his labeling stuck. If your right hand is "tremolo picking", but your left hand is changing notes, it's alternate picking. At least, it is if you're accurate with it, and cleanly picking each note, rather than just dragging your fingers through the patterns, making a wash of sound, like so many amateur shredders.

On topic: why should you use alternate picking? John Mother****ing Petrucci, that's why.
#10
Quote by the_bi99man
Tremolo picking is fast alt picking on the same note. It's called tremolo picking because, if you're doing it right, it creates a tremolo effect on that note. Not to be confused with vibrato, which is what "tremolo bars" actually do. They got the name "tremolo bar" because Leo Fender had "vi brato" and "tremolo" mixed up when he designed guitars and amps, but his labeling stuck. If your right hand is "tremolo picking", but your left hand is changing notes, it's alternate picking. At least, it is if you're accurate with it, and cleanly picking each note, rather than just dragging your fingers through the patterns, making a wash of sound, like so many amateur shredders.

On topic: why should you use alternate picking? John Mother****ing Petrucci, that's why.
I am not debating about the roots of tremolo picking and where it came from but In all respect you say - tremolo picking is fast alt picking - some people do alt pick on the same note I mix and match . I can't see much difference in the two apart from you aren't restricted to single notes so you can do a lot more with alt picking .
Last edited by dazzzer30 at Feb 18, 2015,
#11
Quote by dazzzer30
I am not debating about the roots of tremolo picking and where it came from but In all respect you say - tremolo picking is fast alt picking - some people do alt pick on the same note I mix and match . I can't see much difference in the two apart from you aren't restricted to single notes so you can do a lot more with alt picking .


The main thing that I meant to point out is that tremolo picking is supposed to create the tremolo effect, hence the name. If you're not doing that, regardless of the speed, then you're alt-picking, not trem picking. Which is also why a lot of the time when someone is trem picking, they'll hold the pick sideways, so the rounded edge rolls smoothly over the string. Whereas the pick is typically held more flat for alternate picking, so the individual notes are more cleanly picked, even if it is the same note repeating.