There are many different picking techniques that people use such as alternate picking, hybrid picking, sweep picking etc. Economy picking on the other hand is often overlooked. Australian guitarist Frank Gambale is probably more known for using this technique than anyone else. It takes some time to get used to it, if you come from a strictly alternate picking background. Follow the steps below an you will become an economy picking master.
Step 1. Pick a 3-note-per-string scale shape
You need a 3-note-per-string scale shape to practice economy picking effectively. Choose the one you like and go to the next step.
Step 2. Use two consecutive pick strokes of the same direction when you change strings
The basic idea of economy picking is that you use the regular alternate picking until you have to change strings. If you are ascending the basic 3-note-per-string scale shape the picking would look like this: Down, Up, Down, Down, Up, Down etc. You have to remember to sweep the last note of the three so that you can start playing the next string with a down-stroke as well. The same goes for the descending pattern. You start playing each string with an up-stroke and remember to sweep the last note of the string.
Step 3. You have to be aware of the amount of notes being played to change direction
This is where it gets a little bit tricky. If you want to change the direction of your lines, you have to be aware of how many notes you play per string. The basic rule is, if you want to move in the same direction, you use an odd number of notes. If you want to change the direction, you use an even amount of notes. There has been some criticism that this approach can not be applied to every situation but it does not bother me to be honest.
Although this technique might not be for everyone I still urge you to try it and see if you like it. The beauty of economy picking is that it automatically forces you to think out of the box. You will create original sounding licks in no time with this technique. Some of the cliche alternate picking licks are actually impossible to play using economy picking and that is a big plus in my opinion. You will be more inventive, if you give this technique a try. Remember to start with simple ideas at first and gradually increase the level of complexity as you improve.