Guitar Lesson – October 9th, 2009

economy picking

Today’s lesson was mostly focused on my picking technique.  As I mentioned in a previous post, somewhere along the way I picked up the habit of economy picking.  Upon seeing this my instructor Kit had me stop doing scales all together.  In last weeks lesson he started me back on scales with the Pentatonic Scale.  With the Pentatonic Scale, there are only two notes per string, so you’re pretty much always alternate picking.

Normally when doing Pentatonic scales you start with the first finger on the low E string and end with the fourth finger on the high E string (when only going in one direction).  As I wrote in my last lesson, Kit had me doing the scales starting on both the low E and high E strings.  Starting with a down stroke using the fourth finger on the high E will put you in a situation where, if you have a habit of economy picking, you may switch back to economy picking.  Which I did.

So, this weeks exercises are all geared towards breaking the economy picking habit.  I’m supposed to do the chromatic scale up and down the neck.  The chromatic scale is just every note in order moving up one fret as you play the scale up and down the neck:


I need to do the scale up and down the neck with the following picking patterns:
All Down, 1x
All Up, 1x
Down/Up, 2x
Up/Down, 2x
Down/Up, 4x
Up/Down, 4x

For example, for each note on the “Up/Down 2x” scale I would play each note 4 times before moving to the next note: up, down, up, down.

I’ll point out that Kit isn’t against economy picking.  However he believes you should be in control of your movements.  If you’re economy picking, its because you want to be economy picking for the feel or sound, not because that’s what your hand happens to be doing.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking this is going to be a long monotonous exercise… but if it helps break my habit of unconsciously slipping into economy picking, then I guess that’s a good thing.

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5 Responses to “Guitar Lesson – October 9th, 2009”


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Never TooLateGuitar. Never TooLateGuitar said: Guitar Lesson – October 9th, 2009 […]

  2. […] guitar lessons. And even further in particular with economy picking. As I posted about in a couple previous posts, my instructor Kit really wants me to break the economy picking habit and I seem to be having a […]


  1. A. says:

    I don’t purport to know more than your guitar teachers, but it’s not like economy picking is a bad thing. Jimmy Bruno economy picks and he’s a great player (that’s just one example).

    My old guitar teacher (I moved and now have no teacher) had me do strict alternate picking for about 6 months using the chromatic, four-per-string exercise – both ascending and descending, and starting with both an upstroke and a downstroke. I practiced that for about 40 minutes a day until I was around 80 or 90 bpm using 16th notes. Then, he had me switch to economy picking. It was a hard transition at first, but now I’m very comfortable with economy picking.

    So, yes, work on alternate picking until it becomes comfortable – but then at some point down the road, consider switching to economy picking.

    The nice thing about all that alternate picking practice is that my upstrokes and downstrokes are equally as strong. I actually prefer upstrokes.

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