Sweep picking vs economy picking- how to use BOTH!

Apr 13, 2024

Guitar lesson on easily using sweep picking & economy picking in YOUR guitar licks!

You can maximize your time and practice results learning how to sweep pick and economy pick by learning the licks below, that demonstrate how to use both (in TAB & notation).

Sweep picking is crossing strings consecutively one direction: generally, one note to a string, with any additional notes slurred. On the other hand, economy picking is efficiently crossing the strings picking the same direction- in which there could be multiple notes per string. As you’ll see below, sweep picking you can use for the arpeggios of one note per string. Generally, economy picking you can use for scales when multiple notes are used on a string. Learn how to use both in your licks!

This lesson will help you master picking direction, and you can implement it into your playing FAST as it’s an exercise built into LICKS! I got things tighter and more musical creating licks and being able to jam using both, so you get more mileage. Using too much of one over and over can sound too academic/practice mode.

Why use sweep and economy picking?

You’ll find it’s easier to “push” and “pull” the pick one direction for sweep picking. For economy picking, it’s much easier to cross strings the same direction than using pick rotation in many situations. Therefore, both come in handy when you move from one string to the next without changing picking directions. Both sweeping and economy picking are the efficient when you have a fast burst, and when you’re playing across a good number of strings.

Both sweep picking and economy picking free you up mentally from picking hand considerations that are present when alternate picking. The fact that the motions go one direction makes it easier to automate, thus freeing up your mind to focus on your fretting hand.

The example above is training you to sweep pick and economy pick as an exercise built into a solo. * Be sure you note the picking direction closely above the TAB*

The example takes you from A minor to E minor then B minor, all which sound good together as they share note commonalities.

Measure 1: you sweep an Am triad utilizing 3 consecutive downstrokes. A simple trick to get it smooth is think of just pushing the pick through each string and crossing at a 45-degree angle, so it should begin to feel like a hot knife through butter when your picking hand is getting used to it.

Next in measure 1, you use economy picking: beat 2, beginning on the 14th fret (F# note) of the high E string. Here, the trick to get it fluid is an odd number of notes on the middle strings! Notice the B and G strings have 3 notes to each string. This enables the economical approach of you only having to pick one direction (up-down-up) thus reducing the workload of the picking hand and sounding more fluid.

You use sweep picking in this mini solo for: arpeggios and single notes per string. For economy picking, use it for scales, when a number of notes per string are used. That’s an easy way to think of it and get these techniques into your playing.

Measures 4-5, you use sweep picking. When the slide occurs, you’re simply shifting up to the next arpeggio shape.

Watch the video below, along with a full playthrough and walkthrough of the lick above. Everything is broken down for you and demonstrated measure by measure! Grab your guitar.

Take these ideas and implement them into your licks! Start by drilling each lick repetitively, focusing on getting the notes clean, then building the licks up faster.

Full breakdown of sweep & economy picking licks

Stop playing that same sloppy sweep over & over. Instead, JUMP START your sweep picking TODAY and cultivate skill and sweep picking licks! FREE step-by-step guide!

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