I am coming back to the guitar after almost 10 years away. I have been around the instrument as a jazz player for almost 25 years.

The biggest challenge coming back is what, I believe, drove me away the first time. That inconsistentnt right hand technique that stems from trying to convert to double picking from a problem free economy picking life. Thanks a bunch John Petrucci.

At what point in time do you bite the bullet with time and effort to reprogram yourself to focus on a style of picking? To truly commit to economy picking would mean a great deal of work to focus on odd/even string patterns etc etc. But enough is enough, right?

Anyone else have experience with this?

2 Answers 2


It's really up to you. I don't know enough about any individual players technique to know which they're using. In theory, economy picking should be faster but I'm sure there are many alternaters out there that can keep up with the best of them. For example, I'm pretty sure Paul Gilbert uses alternate picking and he's definately no slouch.

The great thing about alternate picking is that its consistent. You're always doing the same thing with your right hand and therefore should lead to an overall better technique? At least it makes sense to me that it should. Like you've already said economy picking involves a lot of thinking and if this do this except when this happens then do this instead unless this then do that. If up then down else up.

But things like sweeping and stuff obviously you can't do by alternate picking but that sort of stuff is easy to mix in.

If you have a good right hand technique I see no need to spend countless hours trying to change it to a different one unless you want to. If your right hand technique was inconsistent or poor then I see no reason not to try to improve it. By changing the technique completely and learning correctly this time around will be easier than trying to change your current technique to be more proper.


Both styles are equally valuable to have in your repertoire - for the majority of the time you can happily use alternate picking for rhythm and even many lead parts, while pulling out some sweeps as required can be a nice flourish.

You don't need to commit to either exclusively, and in fact I would recommend not abandoning one in favour of the other.

Just make sure you build in practice plans for the types of things you want to be able to accomplish. Are you wanting to go all out like Petrucci? Or is your need more restrained? If you have one song out of five that requires economy picking, then when you practice all your songs, you will be practising the moves you need.

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