Economy picking is a guitar-picking technique designed to maximize picking efficiency by combining alternate picking and sweep picking. The idea is to minimize movement, thus achieving greater playing speed.
When playing notes on a single string, alternate picking is used. When changing to a neighbor string, the pick always goes the shortest, direct way:
- Downwards if the target string is located downwards
- Upwards if the target string is located upwards.
Notable guitarists using economy picking include Frank Gambale (wrote the first book on this technique), Eric Johnson, Jeff Loomis, Michael Angelo Batio, Synyster Gates. Some guitarists decided to abandon economy picking and focus on alternate picking even on the highest playing speeds, because they prefer the more definite, aggressive sound, e.g. Paul Gilbert, Rusty Cooley.