In my last lesson, we looked at how implementing economy picking into your playing is actually quite simple.
You don’t have to alter your entire picking approach; you can just apply the "mini sweep" approach to certain licks. Take LICK 1, for example.
This is a classic 16th-note repeating lick in the F# minor pentatonic scale with an added diminished 5th. One way of picking it would be to tackle the B string with an upstroke and hit the G string with a downstroke. But how about this? When you pick the C note on the G string, just follow that downstroke through to catch the first note of the next rep. Easy.
The movement needed to do this is minimal compared to the alternate picking approach. The economy-picking approach definitely makes sense when you bump the tempo of this lick up to Michael Schenker speeds.
LICK 2 is a bit more challenging on the fretting hand. You need to use your index finger to barre the E and B strings at the 14th fret. The index finger should stay like that for the first three notes until the whole tone bend at the end, where you should let the finger come away whilst you concentrate all your focus onto the bend.
That’s the fretting hand sorted, but what about the picking? You’ll be using an upstroke sweep to nail the first two notes, then you perform a pull-off to the C# on the B string. Hit the bend with a downstroke and get ready to get in position for the next rep. There’s quite a lot going on with this bad boy, but it’s worth the effort.
LICK 3 take a 16th-note triplet approach to the F# minor pentatonic scale. Notice we’re adding the note of F# on the 19th fret, B string, which will be played with the little finger. So there’s quite a stretch involved. After starting the lick off with a downstroke, pull-off to the C# and then set your pick in the downstroke position to catch B note on the G string. Follow that downstroke through to pick the first note of the next rep. The picking pattern remains the same throughout the lick with the third and fourth fingers alternating between each rep.
LICK 4 is a neoclassical-sounding monster made up of shifting triads. We start off with an F#m triad before shifting to D/F#, Fdim, F#m, D, D#dim, E and Fdim, respectively.
Now, before we discuss picking, remember the basic rule from the previous lesson. Economy picking uses sweeps for string changes, but if picking more than one note on the same string, you use alternate picking as usual. Start off with a downstroke, followed by an upstroke.
That’s the first two notes on the E string dealt with. You then follow that upstroke through as a sweep and catch the note on the B string. That’s all there is to it. All you’ve got to do is memorise it all and synchronise it all up. I’ll leave you to it. Enjoy!
Ben Higgins started playing guitar at age 10. He’s released five solo albums and continues to teach guitarists from around the world. His videos include “30 Shredders in One Solo,” in which he emulated the style of 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists, “The Fastest Way to Build Guitar Picking Speed” and “How to Master Sweep Picking—Learn the Rest Stroke.” He followed it up with “30 Misplaced Shredders” and “Another 30 Shredders." In 2016, Ben developed his “Badass…” online courses, which are aimed at improving people’s technique in picking, sweeping and hand synchronization. To find out more about Ben and his courses, visit BenHigginsOfficial.com.