How to make super fast picking easy

Scroll down to see tablature

Guaranteeing success

As with alternate picking, the hardest lick to play is a full three-notes-per-string scale pattern over all six strings. That's why it's so essential to start with very few string shifts and build from there. If you do that, you virtually guarantee that you'll progress faster than most people around you, and you'll create those little successes - that will motivate you to go for more. In the last article we wen't for a two string lick, now it's time to take it to the next level.

Here's why economy picking becomes so easy

Watch closely what happens in today's video. When I'm playing consecutive notes on one string I'm really just using alternate picking. But when I play three notes on each string, going from string to string, it almost looks like my picking moves in slow motion - while still producing the fast flow of notes. Why is that? Well, it's quite simple. The essential downward economy picking movement looks like this:

1. One short up stroke
2. One long down stroke

In other words: You pick three notes with only two strokes. The challenge is to make that down stroke last twice the time of the one up stroke. In this simple lick please notice how the picking hand seem to move much faster the minut it reaches the lowest and the highest string. At these points I actually shift to an alternate picking motion.

Drawing a line

If you have to draw a long straight line on a piece of paper what are you going to do? Are you going to concentrate and draw it very slowly or are you going to make sure that your hand move in one even faster motion? My guess is that you'll go for the latter. It's much easier for us to draw a straight line if our hand moves at a decent speed. If we do it very slowly, it's hard to develop an even flow. You could practice drawing that line very slowly for a week, and still get better results with a faster movement. The same thing applies to economy picking.

A perfect exercise

Though it is essential to practice it slow (In order to tell the brain what we want it to do) it is crucial that you jump to a higher speed level and practice "drawing" that line across the strings. That's why the half-speed / full-speed technique is ideal for practicing economy picking, because it allows you to incorporate both methods: You can focus on moving the hand perfectly and evenly when you play it slow, and then speed it up to practice chunking those 9 downward or upward notes into one movement.
The scale exercise in today's video is perfect for this. You have three strings to cross, just enough to create the flow in your picking hand. I recommend that you do not play over more than three strings the first week, because that will make the challenge so much harder. On the other hand; when you have smacked this one into the box, it'll be quite easy for you to incorporate all six strings.

Perfect Economy Picking Exercise

The half-speed / full-speed method is perfect for practicing economy picking

Here's how to go further faster:

I've spend a great deal of time unlearning bad habits. Little unnecessary details in how I moved my hand that limited how fast I could pick. You can pick however you want when you play slow, but when things speed up, every unnecessary motion will slow you down. If you go for a one mile walk, it wont make much difference to your speed whether or not you have a fat back pack on or not. But if you have to run as fast as you can over the same distance, the back pack will suddenly slow you down significantly. It's a very good idea to not create any "back packs" for your self, because putting them down again can be a tedious task. So be aware of the following:

Have you ever tried swinging an axe?
This is how you should pick; in straight downward and upward motions.

1. No circular motions with the picking hand just straight up and down
2. No finger movements, only the hand moves
3. Hold on to the pick, don't ease your grip to make it slide more easily over the strings
4. No angling the pick in creative ways to make it slide more easily

In other words: You pick and the string moves, the pick stays where it is! The pick moves like the string isn't even there. If you practice this you'll avoid developing bad habits that you'll have to go back and unlearn at a later stage. Have fun with it!