#1
I tend to find myself leaning closer to economy picking when i practice licks. However, one thing I never got to grips with is when to use alternative picking, and when to use economy. One of the main things I struggle with on the guitar is building up to shred speed. I can never get the results I want, no matter how much practice I put in. Because of this, I'm losing motivation. Fast.
It occurred to me that my problem may (probably does) lie within my technique. I am now concerned that I'm using the wrong picking movements when trying to perfect my lead playing.
So basically, my question is the subject header of this post: When should you use alternate picking, and when should you use economy? Does one of these methods have merits over the other? Like I said at the start of the post, I tend to go for an economy approach, but I'm not sure whether this is helping or hindering me.
#2
It depends on the sound you're looking for. Alternate is more rough "metal" like. Econ is like in between alternate and sweeping. So you'll just have to practice both and figure out which one to use case by case.
#3
alternate picking will give you better and more consistent note definition. so passages that require are when to use it. with econmy picking you have to make sure your hammer-on and pull-offs are very consistent which takes practice.

personally i use economy only when the notes are all on the same string (or grouped on adjacent strings that way). its great when you need speed but what you are playing isn't to intricate. when i was learning back in the day i was taught to alternate pick everything so that is where i always start. later when economy and sweep picking came into vogue i had to learn how to incorporate those. seems like most players these days come at this from the opposite way.
#4
I never figured out the difference between the two.
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#5
Quote by monwobobbo
alternate picking will give you better and more consistent note definition. so passages that require are when to use it. with econmy picking you have to make sure your hammer-on and pull-offs are very consistent which takes practice.

personally i use economy only when the notes are all on the same string (or grouped on adjacent strings that way). its great when you need speed but what you are playing isn't to intricate. when i was learning back in the day i was taught to alternate pick everything so that is where i always start. later when economy and sweep picking came into vogue i had to learn how to incorporate those. seems like most players these days come at this from the opposite way.

Quote by hurricane0202
I never figured out the difference between the two.

Right, lets clear this up first, because monwobobbo seems to have the wrong idea (economy picking literally can't be done on a single string) and obviously hurricane0202 doesn't know what they are.

Economy picking changes the way picking works between strings, so if we take this simple example:


e|-------------------------------
b|-------------------------------
g|-------------------------------
d|-------------4-5-4-------------
a|-------3-5-7-------7-5-3-------
e|-3-5-7-------------------7-5-3-


Just a G major scale, one octave, up and down. The alternate picking way is this:


e|-------------------------------
b|-------------------------------
g|-------------------------------
d|-------------4-5-4-------------
a|-------3-5-7-------7-5-3-------
e|-3-5-7-------------------7-5-3-

p|-d-u-d-u-d-u-d-u-u-u-d-u-d-u-d-


Clearly just down-up-down-up repeated until it ends.

Economy picking works very differently though:


e|-------------------------------
b|-------------------------------
g|-------------------------------
d|-------------4-5-4-------------
a|-------3-5-7-------7-5-3-------
e|-3-5-7-------------------7-5-3-

p|-d-u-d-d-u-d-d-u-d-u-d-u-u-d-u-


The idea is that you start each new string picking in the direction you need to move, so if it's a higher string you use a down stroke and if it's a lower string you use an upstroke. The real key to this is where two strokes are the same direction (down-down or up-up) that you use one fluid motion to pick both of them. It takes a bit of practice to get this rhythmically consistent but it's definitely possible.

monwobobbo, you should be able to see now why I think you're confused about what it actually is, because economy picking literally cannot be applied to one string, nor does it have anything to do with legato playing.

Quote by dragozan
When should you use alternate picking, and when should you use economy?

There really are not fast rules about this. Some people choose one and stick with it forever, other people mix and match as it suits them. They do sound different, they definitely feel different, and mechanically they lend themselves to different kinds of ideas.

Quote by dragozan
Does one of these methods have merits over the other?

Not really. A lot of people will tell you that economy picking is faster and that alternate picking takes less thought... but with enough practice neither of those things is really true. If you look at the very fastest players and the most consistent players you tend to find a pretty even spread of picking methods. It's all about good practice more than anything else.

Quote by dragozan
Like I said at the start of the post, I tend to go for an economy approach, but I'm not sure whether this is helping or hindering me.

It's not really going to be doing either to be honest, not inherently, what's holding you back is either poor practice or inconsistent practice. For now it would probably be best to pick one method and stick to it though, so you're not dividing up your time and effort. Which one is entirely your choice though, since in the long run it doesn't make anywhere near as much difference as your practice habits and actual technique, that is relaxation, economy of motion and such, do.

Don't give up hope yet, attaining the technique needed for fast playing takes time, effort, focus, and practice, it's not a quick process at all. You will get there if you keep at it though, really you will.
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#6
hmmm.... ok. i see what you are talking about but i guess i'm not as up on my terms as i should be. i guess i was told years ago that economy picking was as i said. you are only really picking one note but doing hammer ons or pull offs with the next 2-3 notes on each string. kind of a lazy way of playing fast but in some cases it does work well. the "economy" being using far less picking to play the notes.

as for your explaination i guess i've been doing that for years as it is very efficient and was just the way i was taught back in the dinosaur days.
#7
Quote by monwobobbo
hmmm.... ok. i see what you are talking about but i guess i'm not as up on my terms as i should be. i guess i was told years ago that economy picking was as i said. you are only really picking one note but doing hammer ons or pull offs with the next 2-3 notes on each string. kind of a lazy way of playing fast but in some cases it does work well. the "economy" being using far less picking to play the notes.


That sounds more like legato than economy picking, I guess you have confused the terms
#8
Quote by Orientation
That sounds more like legato than economy picking, I guess you have confused the terms


it would appear so.
#9
Economy is great for getting smooth sounding lines out, but it shouldn't be used as a crutch because you can't alternate pick something because, as has been said, alternate picking gives more note definition and has its own important sound.

As for me personally, I can play faster economy picking some stuff, and am faster alternate picking other stuff. I'm really not sure why this is but I suspect most people are like this. Part of my practicing involves learning to alternate pick things I normally economy pick and vice versa.