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Mastering Guitar Techniques: Advanced Exercise Tips

Introduction to

Economy Picking

Have you ever heard of economy picking? It is a popular technique used by guitarists to improve their speed and accuracy.

Economy picking is also known as economy or sweep picking, and it involves alternating between up and down strokes while changing strings. The technique is ideal for faster passages in shred metal, jazz and hard rock solos where you need to keep up with the notes.


Economy Picking Technique

Economy picking is a great technique to add to your arsenal of guitar techniques if you haven’t already. It offers a range of benefits and can significantly improve your playing skills.

For example, it saves time and energy and allows you to maintain a steady tempo. In traditional picking, you would have to execute a “grab-by-grab” sequence, which would make playing faster notes across multiple strings a bit challenging.

With economy picking, however, you can use a two-note sequence uniformly, irrespective of string changes. Another advantage of economy picking is that it can help to eliminate extraneous movements of the picking hand, which can slow down your playing.

The ideal position to execute economy picking is at the bridge pickup of your guitar, as it ensures a smooth and consistent sound. Economy picking can also be combined with alternate picking, another popular guitar technique, to improve speed and add more dynamics to your playing.

Proper technique development is important to gain the desired results from economy picking.

Importance of Picking Hand

The picking hand is an essential component of economy picking, and it plays a crucial role in determining the quality and efficiency of your playing. It is also responsible for controlling the tone, volume, and sound of the guitar.

When picking, it is essential to have a relaxed and soft grip, as this will allow your fingers to move freely and produce a clear sound. To gain practical experience in the picking techniques, plan to build your finger strength and endurance.

Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to the picking hand when practicing economy picking. Relaxing your hand will help to reduce tension and stress, allowing you to play for a more extended period without experiencing fatigue.

The picking hand should also be positioned close to the strings to minimize any unwanted movement. Ultimately, the picking hand can make or break your economy picking technique.

Using the Tip of Your Pick

The tip of your pick plays a vital role in determining the sound you produce when playing the guitar. It is essential to use the right pick tip for the desired sound quality.

Here are some tips on using the tip of your pick.

Importance of Pick Tip

The tip of the pick should be used when playing single notes, as it provides better clarity and accuracy. It also helps to produce a louder and brighter sound, which is essential if you are playing lead guitar.

The pick tip is crucial to achieving a clear and concise sound without any noise or disturbance.

Pick Angle

The angle at which you hold your pick can also alter the sound quality. For example, to produce a brighter tone, the tip of the pick should be angled upwards towards the ceiling.

To achieve a mellower sound, angle the pick downwards to the ground. The pick angle also plays a vital role in alternate picking, as it makes it easier to switch pick directions.

Another essential technique to consider is sweep picking, which involves using long, flowing strokes across multiple strings. Aesthetically, sweep picking is a great technique to watch, as it produces a beautiful and seamless sound.

Sweeping upwards can be tricky, and it requires a bit more coordination than sweeping downwards. However, by practicing regularly, you can master both upward and downward sweeps.


In summary, economy picking is a fantastic guitar technique that is geared towards promoting speed, accuracy, and efficiency. It is ideal for playing faster passages in jazz, shred metal, and hard rock solos.

Additionally, the picking hand plays a critical role in this technique, and it is essential to have a relaxed grip, grip and position your hand close to the strings, and hold the pick correctly. The tip of the pick is equally important and affects the quality, clarity, and accuracy of your sound.

Proper pick angle adjustment can affect the type of sound you want to produce. Whether it is a sweep picking or alternate picking, there are no shortcuts to developing the necessary skills.

Practice makes perfect, so ensure that you practice regularly, be patient, and enjoy the process.

3) Exercise 1 – Single String

The importance of an exercise in any skill-building endeavor cannot be overstated. In the case of learning guitar, exercises are the bread and butter of developing and fine-tuning your picking technique.

They help to reinforce the fundamental movements required for playing with accuracy and speed. In this section, we will discuss the importance of exercises in general and highlight the differences between alternate picking and economy picking.

Importance of Exercise

Any musician worth their salt knows that practice is essential to improving their skills, and exercises are a crucial part of that practice. When it comes to learning guitar, exercises provide a structured way to build your technical ability and stamina.

They are designed to help you develop your picking-hand skills gradually, and once mastered, you can apply those skills to the specific songs or passages you wish to play. Exercises also help you to focus on individual elements of your playing, such as tone, timing, or accuracy.

By breaking down the pieces in this way, you can more easily isolate the areas that need improvement and devise a plan to work on them. This makes exercises an especially effective tool for those who are working on a particular technique or struggling with a specific aspect of their playing.

Alternate Picking vs

Economy Picking

Alternate picking is a technique of playing guitar that involves alternating the up and downstrokes when playing notes. The idea behind this technique is to alternate between each stroke, allowing you to keep just one sweep in motion.

This technique is useful as it results in a more fluid and natural motion when playing. Economy picking, on the other hand, is a technique that combines alternate picking with sweep picking.

This technique involves a repetitive downward sweep, allowing you to produce a fast and smooth flow of notes. One benefit of economy picking is that it can reduce the amount of time needed to play phrases or runs over several strings.

However, this technique has some pitfalls, particularly when playing uneven numbers of notes in a sequence.

Beginners should focus on alternate picking to develop their skills.

While economy picking can help you play more challenging passages faster, it also requires more control and coordination. Alternate picking is an excellent starting point to learn essential techniques, such as speed and accuracy.

With enough practice, you will soon develop the necessary skills to move on to economy picking.

4) Exercise 2 – Strings Next to Each Other

In Exercise 2, we will explore an exercise designed to help you improve your picking technique on adjacent strings. This exercise is particularly useful if you struggle with upstrokes and the transition between strings.

In this section, we will look at the importance of exercise and provide tips on getting used to two upstrokes in a row.

Importance of Exercise

As we mentioned earlier, exercises are an essential part of practicing and developing skills on the guitar. Exercises help you hone in and focus on specific techniques and skills.

In this exercise, you will get the chance to focus on the transition between strings and work on your upstrokes. Through consistent practice, you can improve your picking abilities and develop a clean and precise sound.

Getting Used to Two Upstrokes in a Row

In this exercise, we will focus on playing pairs of adjacent strings. We’ll start with a downstroke, followed by two upstrokes and then change to the next string.

Follow the sequence until you get to the last string, then reverse it. For example, start with E, hit down stroke and up, up.

Then switch to A, down, up, up, and so on until you reach the low E string, once you hit that string, reverse the order. The goal of this exercise is to get used to playing two upstrokes in a row.

This is important because many guitarists struggle with playing upstrokes, and this can lead to uneven playing and poor timing. By focusing on practicing your upstrokes in a structured and purposeful manner, you can improve your overall skill and gain more control over your playing.

It is important to start slow and play cleanly. Only increase the speed as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

As with all exercises, consistency is key, and it’s better to play for shorter periods consistently, than to grind out long and sloppy practice sessions.


In conclusion, exercises are an essential part of the guitar learning process. They provide a structured way to develop and improve your skills by focusing on specific aspects of your playing.

When it comes to picking, practicing exercises can help you refine your technique and improve your accuracy and speed. Both alternate picking and economy picking are useful techniques, and a beginner should focus on learning alternate picking to develop the necessary skills before moving on to economy picking.

Also, practicing exercises such as the one detailed above can help you overcome common difficulties and gain more confidence in your playing.

5) Exercise 3 – Adding Frets

In Exercise 3, we will introduce an exercise that adds more frets to the mix. Adding more frets to an exercise can help you develop your fretting hand and improve your overall technique.

This exercise focuses on the natural minor scale, and we will also explore the importance of exercises and economy picking.

Importance of Exercise

Exercises are an essential part of developing good guitar skills. They are designed to help you master specific picking and fretting techniques before moving on to more advanced playing.

Exercises not only aid in improving your technique, but they also help build muscle memory and stamina, which is necessary when playing guitar for extended periods.

A Natural Minor Scale

The natural minor scale is a popular scale in many styles of music, such as blues and rock. This scale is based on the sixth note of its corresponding major scale and has a distinctive melancholic sound.

Conversely, the natural minor scale happens to be the most used guitar scale, and learning it is crucial to the craft. The economy picking technique is handy when playing through this scale effectively.

The natural minor scale in this exercise follows a three-notes-per-string pattern. By doing this you will play it efficiently without regard to economy picking.

With this scale, it’s essential to maintain a relaxed picking motion to keep up with the notes.

Economy Picking

Economy picking is a picking technique that combines sweep picking and alternate picking to produce smooth and fluid runs across the guitar strings. It is particularly useful when playing phrases that involve three or more notes.

Practicing this technique will help you play faster and with greater accuracy. When practicing economy picking, be mindful of your picking hand’s movements, keep it relaxed and close to the string.

Also, keep a steady up and down motion when required. This will help you become more comfortable with the technique.

6) Exercise 4 – Adding Pull-Offs

In Exercise 4, we will introduce an exercise that focuses on combining pull-offs with economy picking. Pull-offs are a technique used to create a legato sound, and this exercise will help to improve your synchronization between your fretting and picking hand.

Importance of Exercise

Exercises are designed to help you develop your skills by focusing on specific techniques and building muscle memory, and this exercise is no exception. It is essential to practice regularly to become comfortable with the pull-offs and develop the necessary speed and accuracy while combining them with economy picking.

Combining Pull-Offs with

Economy Picking

One of the essential techniques for playing guitar legato or smoothly is pull-offs. This technique requires plucking one string and then pulling the finger away from the string towards the fretboard to create another note.

Combination of pull-offs with economy picking leads to a smooth and efficient playing style. This exercise is a variation of ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits, which is a great song to develop both pull-offs and economy picking.

The first part of the exercise focuses on incorporating pull-offs with economy picking to produce the melody line of the song. In the second part, you will play the rhythm part, using the same technique, and adding open strings to increase the difficulty.

Practice this exercise slowly, paying close attention to the synchronization of your picking and fretting hands. To execute this exercise efficiently, use a relaxed and soft grip on your fretting hand.

Practice pulling off your fingers from the string to produce clean and legato sounds. Be consistent and smooth with your picking hand and avoid any tensions that may arise.

You can use a metronome to train your timing and keep an even tempo throughout the exercise.


Practicing exercises is crucial to developing good guitar skills. When you practice regular exercises, you will improve your technique, wrist, and finger strength.

The natural minor scale exercise is a great way to explore playing through scales within your comfort zone. Combining pull-offs with economy picking in ‘Sultans of Swing’ exercise is a great way to advance your playing skills.

By incorporating these exercises into your daily practice routine, you’ll elevate your guitar playing and ultimately become a better guitarist.

7) Exercise 5 – Ascending and Descending Patterns

In Exercise 5, we will introduce an exercise that combines ascending and descending patterns. This exercise is designed to help you improve your alternate and economy picking technique and address the challenge of changing directions.

Importance of Exercise

Exercises are an essential part of practicing and developing guitar skills. They help to build muscle memory and stamina, and improve your playing accuracy, timing, and speed.

Exercises help to isolate and improve specific techniques, ensuring that you develop a solid foundation of skills that you will need for complex playing. Consistent practice is essential to ensure that the technique becomes second-nature for your playing.

Changing Directions

Changing the direction of your picking motion is an essential aspect of playing guitar. When playing through a guitar solo, it is common to alternate between notes played ascending and descending.

Therefore, it’s necessary to work on smoothly transitioning from upstrokes to downstrokes to achieve a fluid and natural sound. In this exercise, focus on maintaining a consistent alternate and economy picking motion when changing directions.

The exercise requires you to play a repeating sequence of notes that ascend and descend the scale. Start by playing three notes in an ascending direction, then change direction and play two notes in a descending direction.

Repeat this pattern throughout the exercise, applying alternate or economy picking techniques. The challenging part of the exercise is putting it all together and maintaining a smooth motion in both directions.

8) Exercise 6 – Eric Johnson Lick

Exercise 6 features an Eric Johnson guitar lick, which is an advanced technique when using both alternate and economy picking to create a fluid and speedy sound. This exercise is based on the lick from the instrumental song ‘Cliffs of Dover’ by Eric Johnson.

Importance of Exercise

This exercise is critical to building speed, precision, and accuracy when picking. It also helps to strengthen your economy picking technique, which is essential for playing advanced solos.

It is important to remember that this exercise is meant to challenge your playing abilities, and requiring regular practice to gain the desired results.

Advanced Technique from Cliffs of Dover

The Eric Johnson lick is an advanced guitar technique that utilizes alternate and economy picking methods to produce a fluid and speedy sound. This technique is featured in his Grammy Award-winning instrumental song, ‘Cliffs of Dover.’ To play this exercise, you will need to follow the pattern using both alternate and economy picking techniques.

Start by playing three notes per string on the A minor pentatonic scale utilizing the ‘down, up, down’ picking pattern. Continue the same pattern ascending on the scale and apply the economy picking technique when going to the next string.

This technique requires a relaxed hand and wrist motion to sweep down on each note. Once you are comfortable with the up and down stroke transitions, add a hammer-on from the 5th fret to the 7th fret.

Then return to the pick at the 5th fret and descend the scale using economy picking technique. You will then repeat the sequence, but with 4 notes per string and then 5 notes per string.

The key to achieving success with this exercise is consistent and slow practice until you build up speed and accuracy. Once mastered, this technical exercise can be used for playing more challenging guitar pieces and solos.


In conclusion, exercises are a crucial part of developing guitar-playing skills, and these advanced exercises are especially beneficial in building speed, accuracy, and stamina. By consistently

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