The hidden key to learning economy picking fast

Scroll down to see tablature

A radically different process

Practicing economy picking is a radically different process than practicing alternate picking. And the reason is this: Because economy picking involves a sweeping motion, you have to use two different practice routines to get the best results fast:

1. Playing the metronome game
2. Chunking several movements into one
3. Integrate immediately

1. Playing the metronome game

If you are unfamiliar with this essential practice routine then please look under the category "How to get more out of practice". Using this way of practicing involves playing your economy picking licks at a tempo where you can play them perfectly. You perform a slow motion version of the lick, moving your right hand the way you would at maximum speed. (This involves using minute, robotic and simple picking motions) Also you make sure that you never use two up- or down strokes but that you sweep from one string to another in one even motion.

Reach amazing levels of speed

However, if this is the only practice routine you use, you'll hit the upper limit of what you can achieve very fast. It will seem like it's impossible to get an even flow of notes at higher tempos. It doesn't neccesarily become harder to pick the notes, but it becomes harder to play them evenly. But if you also use this second way of practicing you'll reach amazing levels of speed very fast:

2. Chunking several movements into one

The secret to teaching the brain to do something inhumanly fast is to  turn a lot of different movements into one single pattern of movement. This is the way we drive a car, ride a bicycle and brush our teeth. So many little challenges has become "one thing" for the brain. This is exactly what happens when you master economy picking as well. Start out with one simple lick like the one in this article. Then use the metronome game to get it imprinted on your brain. But be sure to not get any bad habits in this process. Play it perfectly and slow. Then jump to practicing all the notes in one single movement at a much higher tempo. It will sound silly at first but keep listening and focusing on your picking hand as you try to sweep and flow trough the lick at an even high tempo.

3. Integrate and use the lick before you master it

Then decide to use both ways of practicing for a week or two and then incorporate that one single lick into your playing. Play around with it. Use it although your not perfect at it yet. Make sure it becomes a part of your musical vocabulary. Play it ten times every time you pick up the guitar. Practice blending it with the other things you know. Practice coming into it and out of it from and to other licks. The main message here is this:

1. Play it and use it although you can't play it perfectly. 2. Be sure to play the metronome game once in a while to support you in learning to play the notes evenly and precisely. But don't, don't! Expect to be able to learn this way of picking only by playing the metronome game. You'll be one frustrated camper if you do. If you use these three strategies though, you'll build amazing precision in what you do, and you'll start enjoying the benefits of economy picking in days!

Today's video

This lick is essential to economy picking. Instead of using a three note per string pattern, like you would when you use alternate picking, I use a four note per string pattern. Learning to play four notes up and down on one string only will give you some exciting new possibilities. Learn this one lick and later I'll show you how to do things with this that you did not believe was possible! I've included the fingering for this one because that isn't very clear on the video.

The Harmonic Minor Lick of Doom

This is one of my favorite economy picking licks. It sounds great and agressive and it's feels so great and effortless to play it once you master it

- Also you can get a good head start on the string shifting action. You can stay on one string doing four notes up and down until you are ready to go to the next string. This makes it an excellent exercise and an extremely useful lick! Remember: The only thing stopping you from getting the killer chops you want, is the idea that it takes too much time to learn, or that it's too hard, or that you haven't got the talent, the time, the money or the what ever. So drop the story and just do it! Know that it takes some effort and persistence, but don't make it into a bigger challenge than it is. A few minutes of discipline every day will do the trick if you don't stop.