Paul Gilbert has this simple lick in his Intense Rock 1 video (see video).

The notes are:

   d  u  d  u  d  u  

And then repeat. My d/u notation is pure alternate picking as I understand it.

What would the d/u notation be for this same lick if played with directional picking and what would it be if played with economy picking?

  • I took three semesters of music theory that I didn't need for my degree and even I don't want to put that much thinking into playing guitar. May 29, 2015 at 0:35
  • 1
    Whichever picking system you pick, stick with it, don't switch back and forth. I personally prefer directional/economy picking for a wide range of reasons.
    – Jay Skyler
    May 29, 2015 at 4:13
  • @ToddWilcox then you definitely wouldn't want to check out Troy Grady! I came across this video after posting here, and it was about THE EXACT lick I made a post about! So strange! He goes into the concept of two-way pickslanting which is fascinating. I'm a believer in working smarter not harder, so I'm trying to decide how I want to approach picking technique and as JaySkyler says, stick with it and not switch back and forth.
    – Rob Wise
    May 29, 2015 at 7:38
  • @JaySkyler based on the answer by Asterisk, then directional/economy picking here would end up making you play this lick two different ways if you start on a downstroke since the second time around you would be starting on an upstroke instead of a downstroke, and from then on you would be doing pure alternate picking anyway, right?
    – Rob Wise
    May 29, 2015 at 7:41
  • @RobW That is correct. Assuming these are 8th note triplets (or eighth notes in 6/8 time) if you were to repeat it indefinitely, the B note would only occur on the downstroke the very first time.
    – Jay Skyler
    May 30, 2015 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


I always understood directional picking and economy picking as the same ( could be wrong ). However, in terms of picking patterns they are identical. So if we using the example you gave the picking pattern would be DUDDUD for both Economy and directional picking. The general idea of economical/directional picking is the transition between strings is very "sweep-like" in nature or "fluid" as possible. Another way to look at is this way: Consider the alternative picking exercise you gave which is DUDUDU on the fourth note (E assuming standard) you'll notice that in order to achieve the up pick you'll need to make a down motion to go past the highest (High E string) string and then make the up motion just to pick the note whereas in economical picking/directional picking you would just need to the down motion to pick the note.

  • You are correct, directional and economy picking are the same thing.Both of which used to be called alternate or tick tock picking until Steve Morse popularized what was then called strict alternate picking in the guitar magazines.
    – Jay Skyler
    May 29, 2015 at 4:10
  • @JaySkyler interesting about the origins of the terms and it makes it clear that there may not be a single true answer for this question because of disagreement on the terminology. This guy tomhess.net/TheBestPickingTechniqueForGuitarSpeed.aspx seems to argue that directional and economy are different.
    – Rob Wise
    May 29, 2015 at 7:54
  • From that link: "Economy picking is a specialized technique that requires you to change strings with sweep picking motions ALL THE TIME - thus forcing you to plan how many notes per string you will play in each phrase. Directional picking has NO such limitation...You end up alternate picking notes if it is the most efficient path to the next note, OR using sweep picking on string changes if it is the most efficient path to the next note."
    – Rob Wise
    May 29, 2015 at 7:54
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    @RobW.: According to this definition, the above Paul Gilbert lick can't actually be played (repetitively) using economy picking, only directional or alternate picking. However, I think this distinction between economy and directional picking is a bit artificial, and there's probably no player you uses pure economy picking as defined in that link.
    – Matt L.
    May 29, 2015 at 9:32
  • @RobW what Tom Hess is describing is what used to be alternate picking (and still is for players who didn't learn from the internet), and now is called economy picking by ~99% of people online. He's just redefining the term it to give a non-derogatory name to the technique. This is the traditional way to pick, and it is how every single player I have ever seen who has not specifically studied strict alternate picking actually picks. The real distinction is inside vs. outside string crosses, which typically correspond to the economy of energy vs. economy of motion concepts of picking.
    – Jay Skyler
    May 30, 2015 at 15:48

DP is not entirely the same as EP in that the latter intentionally picks an odd number of notes on a string to move to a new string in a particular direction, and an even number of notes to redirect to the opposite direction as defined by EP author Frank Gambale himself. DP however, is the liberated version of EP, you can play as many notes on a string as you wish which will result in either an inside picking or a sweep when moving to another string.

So EP players seem to be avoiding the inside picking technique whereas DP players embrace it. What DP players avoid is the Outside picking which strict Alternate pickers prefer.

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