Picking rabbit hole

I’ve got a little lick that has started me down a rabbit hole of alternate picking v economy picking.

It’s played fairly quickly. If I use alternate picking starting on a down stroke, then the second note need to be an up stroke but the string change makes it very awkward, the same happens on the forth note.

What do people think is the best strategy here, to abandon alternate picking or learn to deal with the difficult string hops?

EDIT - I should add that I typically play up stroke escapes!

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I 'm afraid I can’t help but curious as to what an upstroke escape is.

Hi @Stuartw - when you pick a string ideally you should move ‘in’ and ‘out’, rather than just up and down. When you pick ‘in’ then the plectrum is ‘stuck’ between strings, when you pick ‘out’ the plectrum is above the strings and can easily move to another string, this is the ‘escape’ as the plectrum is free from the strings. My down stroke ends with the ‘in’ position and my upstroke ends with the out position. So I’m an “upstoke escape” player. Some are the other way around.
For me (and other upstroke escape players) switching strings after an upstroke is easy, but after a downstroke is more difficult.
Hope that makes sense!


I tend to prefer alternate picking as my default, especially when I’m improvising. However, I think that if you’re playing a specific, written riff/line/ostinato that would benefit from economy picking then it makes sense to use economy picking for that section of music. (Which could mean applying it to the entire piece if you’re playing a score exactly as written, or you’re memorizing a piece to be played by rote.)

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Paul, does it all need to be picked? What fingering are you using?
I’m asking as I see potential for slides and even hammer-on / flick-off moments.

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Thanks @J.W.C / @Richard_close2u

This is a lick I transcribed from a recording of Hoochie Coochie man, so it’s entirely plausible that the original was played in a different position.

The first repeated figure of 3 notes I’m playing with the third finger sliding to the G, then the first finger playing the Bb and the little finger plays the C. The F# is then played with the first finger, the Eb with the third (or fourth finger) and the final C with the first finger.

I’ve not looked at slides or hammer ons/pull offs, but with the current position that would still leave me with the issue on the 2nd note, moving from string 2 to string 1 after the downstroke.

I am tempted to just go with economy picking and play Down, Down, Up.

I also suspect I am thoroughly over-thinking this!

Interesting question. I change between economy or alternate picking depending on the riff or arpeggio.

I played this one a few times and to me it seems to want to be alternate picked. The straightforward rhythm and the way this lick moves around the strings makes it like that - for me. Picking can be pretty personal though. So I reckon, go with what feels best.

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Thanks JK. If you play a downstroke on the first note, then does your pick end up between strings 1 and 2 after that note or do you pick ‘outwards’?

I had to analyse that, I’ve read about pick escapes etc but never checked my own playing. I must pick outwards. Definitely don’t end up trapped between the strings on this one.

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That makes sense - it’s easier for me to play with alternate picking if I play with a downstroke escape, but that’s not my natural style.

I seem to recall this but can’t remember the associated lesson. Do you know which lesson this is in? I’m sure that I’m not doing this.

Ok makes sense. Having just quickly checked I don’t do either as I keep the pick at the same ‘depth’. I also generally use all down strokes. Do I need to pick in and out?

See this lesson from the 2 minute mark. I would say that there’s a lot of different styles and many great players who do things differently.