Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Economy or alternate picking

  1. #1

    Default Economy or alternate picking

    I've been using economy picking with my guitars for years. Since I'm new to mandolins, is there a preferred picking style? Most of the guitar forums say there's really no right or wrong method as far as which picking style to choose, it's really all about personal preference. Is the same true for the mandolin?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Well, I have it heard it said that the right is the "more important" hand in both guitar and mandolin. There is a "formal" method, using alternating up and down picking and using the down pick motion for emphasis. Right hand should be loose at the wrist. The right hand should "float" at a consistent distance above the strings and bridge, and is often used to dampen strings. The Right hand should "always be ready" to pick a string (course).
    Mandolin, like a guitar, is used for both chords and melody, so picking concepts are not all that different.
    All this being said, yes it is open to personal preference and style, and "style is based on limitations"- John Hartford
    You can read about it all day long, I would watch someone like Chris Thile, Sierra Hull, Sam Bush or Mike Marshall and go from there
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    central VA
    Posts
    800

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Watching videos of the masters will give you lots of info. While various notes can be had with economy picking, the sound/timing/attitude gives a different sound and feel when using lots of down strokes. You'll see this a lot with Monroe style tunes, and a good example is the mandolin picker for Flatt Lonesome playing "You'll Get No More of Me" in their live performance in the Caverns. Jesse McReynolds seems to break lots of general picking rules with his cross picking rolls -- amazing timing.

  4. #4
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,206

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    You'll get lots of opinions and certainly lots of great pickers break the rules. but...

    You should learn to play mandolin with alternate picking. When you've mastered that, you can do whatever else you need to do without asking.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  5. #5
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Palmer, Texas
    Posts
    3,350

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Quote Originally Posted by The Big Loubowski View Post
    ... it's really all about personal preference.
    Yep. Personal style and preference.

    My preference is alternate picking with a solid groove. Master that, then deviate wherever and whenever you want for whatever reason. IOW I'm in the same camp as Phil.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  6. #6

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Are they two different things (economy versus alternate) or two names for the same thing? By alternate, do you mean alternating or alternative?

    A guess: They both mean picking on both the up- and downstroke. As a guitar player, I'd say it's purely personal preference. But in learning mandolin, I've found that there are stricter rules governing picking behavior. (Regardless, I still pick like a guitar player. Oh, well.)

    As people have said above, up- and downstrokes can give you different sounds. Just like on guitar, down can be more dynamic, up can be more casual.

  7. #7
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,217

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Economy picking is what was called "sweep picking",,brought to the forefront by Frank Gambale,,but way before him it was used by Chet Atkins,the "Chet Atkins arppegio",, this is the basic sweeping arpeggio that every rock/metal guitarist abuse,,very effective on electric guitar,,I've experimented with sweeping on the mandolin,and it's very possible,you can reach amazing speeds,,but not practical on the mandolin,,you have volume and pick pressures that you have to be consistent with,, not the greatest technique on the mandolin,sometimes it happens naturally when crossing strings,,but for the most part stick to alternate dudu picking..

  8. #8
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,962

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    I suggest using both methods as is appropriate for the particular musical need.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Economy picking is what was called "sweep picking",,brought to the forefront by Frank Gambale,,but way before him it was used by Chet Atkins,the "Chet Atkins arppegio",, this is the basic sweeping arpeggio that every rock/metal guitarist abuse,,very effective on electric guitar,,I've experimented with sweeping on the mandolin,and it's very possible,you can reach amazing speeds,,but not practical on the mandolin,,you have volume and pick pressures that you have to be consistent with,, not the greatest technique on the mandolin,sometimes it happens naturally when crossing strings,,but for the most part stick to alternate dudu picking..
    My understanding of economy picking is that it is a little different than sweep picking. I had thought sweep picking was generally sequences of notes where 3 or more strings are played in one pick motion. So, for example, it'd be very hard to play a standard fiddle tune using sweep picking all the way through. Economy picking, on the other hand means that you generally pick alternate down and up (or up and down) for successive notes on the same string, BUT if you move to a higher string after a downstroke, you play the note on the higher string with a downstroke. Similarly, moving to a lower string may result in two successive upstrokes. This is in contrast to straight alternating picking where downstrokes vs upstrokes are determined by the rhythm - for example in a typical fiddle tune like St Anne's your downstrokes will coincide with your foot-tapping.

    I think most players playing bluegrass or old-time music tend to use straight alternating picking. It's easier to get into the swing of the music. Probably most players of Irish music do also for reels and hornpipes, but I've come across quite a few tenor banjo players who do something close to what I describe above as economy picking (or a bit of both).

    Personally I use straight alternating picking for everything I play (except jigs) so I'm afraid I can't demonstrate economy picking. If I see an example on YouTube I'll post it.

  10. #10
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,217

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Sweep picking is the same thing as economy picking,as laid out by Frank Gambale,,as it is almost impossible to actually sweep pick an entire tune or improvisation,,sweep picking also incorporates alternate picking also,,

  11. #11

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Quote Originally Posted by ampyjoe View Post
    My understanding of economy picking is that it is a little different than sweep picking. I had thought sweep picking was generally sequences of notes where 3 or more strings are played in one pick motion. So, for example, it'd be very hard to play a standard fiddle tune using sweep picking all the way through. Economy picking, on the other hand means that you generally pick alternate down and up (or up and down) for successive notes on the same string, BUT if you move to a higher string after a downstroke, you play the note on the higher string with a downstroke. Similarly, moving to a lower string may result in two successive upstrokes. This is in contrast to straight alternating picking where downstrokes vs upstrokes are determined by the rhythm - for example in a typical fiddle tune like St Anne's your downstrokes will coincide with your foot-tapping.

    I think most players playing bluegrass or old-time music tend to use straight alternating picking. It's easier to get into the swing of the music. Probably most players of Irish music do also for reels and hornpipes, but I've come across quite a few tenor banjo players who do something close to what I describe above as economy picking (or a bit of both).

    Personally I use straight alternating picking for everything I play (except jigs) so I'm afraid I can't demonstrate economy picking. If I see an example on YouTube I'll post it.
    Interesting! I hardly ever even think about whether I'm picking up or down. Maybe I'll start. Thanks!

    PS - Just Googled sweep picking to find out what it is. Ow ow ow!

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,755

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Chris Thile is an advocate of alternate picking, FWIW. I'm working on "Another New World" and will admit it's tough to maintain the DUDU consistently at that speed with those arpeggios (as opposed to DDU or all down strokes). But, I'm trying to make myself go slowly to get the alternate picking down on it. We'll see how it goes given my talent deficiency...
    Chuck

  13. #13

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Sweep picking is the same thing as economy picking,as laid out by Frank Gambale,,as it is almost impossible to actually sweep pick an entire tune or improvisation,,sweep picking also incorporates alternate picking also,,
    I looked at a book of Frank Gambale's on Amazon and you are quite right, what he calls sweep picking is exactly what I understand as economy picking. I had thought I'd come across the term sweep picking used to describe arpeggios that are executed by down or upstrokes that cross many strings. I think I've also heard the term raking for something close to this, though I'd thought it necessarily also used heavy damping.

    Some Irish style banjo players use something that is similar to economy picking for entire tunes, but it's perhaps more free than how Frank Gambale describes it. For example, look at Barney McKenna on any YouTube video, and you'll see that his pick directions are not standard alternating. It looks to me that he plays two upstrokes in a row quite frequently when the tune moves to a lower string.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Economy or alternate picking

    Quote Originally Posted by ampyjoe View Post
    . . I think I've also heard the term raking for something close to this, though I'd thought it necessarily also used heavy damping. . . .
    I think so, too. On a squareneck guitar, if I remember right, raking is damping all but the final, highest note. Doing it hard and loud is called an angry rake.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •