Economy Picking

In this lesson we will focus on learning the theory behind economy picking as well as practice a few exercises to develop it.

Economy picking is basically the combination of alternate and sweep picking. It produces a smoother sound than straight alternate picking and requires far less effort in the picking hand.

If you have never tried economy picking before, it may take a little getting used to. But, after a short while you will see just how much economy picking can add to your playing.

I believe that you should try to master both economy AND alternate picking because they are both different sounds that you want at your fingertips. A lot of players tend to preach all alternate or all economy, but I believe the more versatile you are the better.

Don't forget to download the PDF file for this lesson, because the picking indications are very important.

Economy Picking PDF

Start slow and try to make all the notes as even as possible AND try and take it through all the 3 notes per string forms.

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Economy Picking


  1. rey on January 1, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Great Lessons! Very informative.This will help for many aspiring guitarist out there. I been using it too its a great technique to learn. Cheers!

    • Carl Brown on January 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks I appreciate it, I am going to be doing more economy picking lessons soon so please keep checking back for more. Carl..

  2. acosebede on February 16, 2010 at 4:26 am

    very helpful lesson, i’ve always tried to play a scale fast with alternate picking…

  3. gerar on August 6, 2010 at 5:55 am

    thank you for all my friend, my inglish is very bad, from argentina!

  4. jake on December 1, 2010 at 8:40 am

    i am confused, is it better to not use the pick at all when doing hammer on and pull off riffs such as legato, or should you pick the next string when you move down

    • Carl Brown on December 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      Hey Jake, they are both perfectly valid ways of playing legato that you should practice.

      Not using a pick will give a slightly smoother sound but is more difficult to play. You will probably find times that you would prefer the sound of one of them over the other but you want to be able to do both just in case. 😀


  5. weslley on January 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    hey, nice lessons, im from brazil and i like very much your work.

  6. matthew accetturo on October 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    yay!, love this lesson switching direction with even, I never thought of that. also, when your descending start with an up stroke….thanks carl

  7. bill norum on January 4, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Hi my best friend carl, thank you very much for this lesson I practice really hard,very helpful ,but how can I play the big stretch solos I cant play big stretch notes for example on B string 12 15 20 FRET. its hard to play but I don’t know how to improve it please help me ,thank you very very much;D

    • Carl Brown on January 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Hey Bill, be sure to check out the Economy Picking Mastery For Guitar complete course in the Premium section if you like this lesson. 🙂

      To answer your question though, for the most part your ability to do long stretches on the fretboard is most affected by the position of your thumb behind the neck. Try to lower your thumb a little bit closer to the bottom of the back of the guitar neck and that will enable your fingers to spread out a little more across the fingerboard.

      Also doing regular stretching exercises will help loosen up your hands immensely. Check out the two lessons I have linked below for help with that. 🙂 Carl..

  8. Herbert Penouilh on January 17, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Thanks, these lessons are giving me something I have been looking for my whole life. 54

    • Carl Brown on January 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks a bunch Herbert, let me know if you have any questions at all!


  9. Thomas Shibolli on April 18, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Greetings, Carl!

    Allow me to start by saying I was, and still am, deeply enriched by your lessons so far. I am a self-taught drummer-turned-guitarist who have been looking far and wide, cyberwise, for a proper teacher. Now I finally feel my search is concluded.

    Your choice of subjects, songs and techniques, alongside your cozy, yet straightforward attitude convey a substantial contribution to any guitar player, regardless of level. Not every master is capable of teaching, but you certainly are. Please, do take it as a complementary compliment to your accomplishments on this site.

    I hope I did not disturb the video-related messages all too much with my comment, I simply had to grant you my gratitude, so, single-wordedly: Thanks.

    Kind regards,
    Thomas, Israel

    Do you create any music of your own, or are you simply too short of time?

    • Carl Brown on April 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Hey Thomas, thanks a bunch for the kind comments. I really appreciate it. This site truly is my life’s work so it is great to hear from someone who is getting something from it.

      As for my own music, I am spending most of my time creating classical music these days. The first compositions that will be released will be solo classical guitar compositions that I will perform myself. I hope to have those starting coming out by the end of the year.

      Thanks again for watching my lessons. Hope to hear from you again soon!


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