What is economy picking and how can it benefit your guitar playing?

Yngwie Malmsteen
(Image credit: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)

When it comes to using a guitar pick, there are two main ways of doing so: alternate picking and economy picking. Whereas alternate picking uses a strict succession of up and down strokes to play single-note lines, economy picking takes a different approach where the choice of whether to pick up or down is directed by which string is being picked.

For example, when tackling an ascending three-notes-per-string scale, the pick strokes will follow the pattern of down-up-down on each string, meaning that the third note on each string is played with a downstroke while the plectrum continues the same downward motion to strike the first note on the next string. 

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Simon Barnard

Simon is a graduate of the UK's Academy of Contemporary Music and The Guitar Institute, and holds a Masters degree in music. He teaches, examines and plays everything from rock to jazz.