Economy Of Motion Is The Key
One important thing that a lot of players forget is the fact that playing the guitar fast or 'shredding' is a physical thing that requires us to build on muscle memory and the only way to do it cleanly is to play whatever we want to play fast, accurately at a much slower tempo. Combining this idea with the right means of economic playing at this lower tempo and building it up can give us the results we want and the economy of motion used means that it will be much easier to build up to higher tempos that if you were using an inefficient motion.
Why are you on this site? Because you want to be able to shred and have more confidence on your instrument, yes that's right this principle not only applies to the guitar, rather a shed load of different instruments.
So how do I actually apply this shiz-nit to my playing you ask?
Well let's start with your picking hand: over the years I have seen people use many different ideas and picking 'stances' if you will and the economy principle once again refers and works with however you hold your pick.
Ok so let's think about this in a typical alternate picking context. Look at the following example:
So in fig a we have a sequence going up in groups of 4 notes through the A Aeolian mode. We have several options in terms of how to make life easier for ourselves here, at the very least we could just slow it down and watch our picking hand closely (you'll be surprised at just how much wasted kinetic energy there is going on) and then minimise the movement required by keeping the pick closer to the string(s). We could take things further here and change the picking technique to economy picking, ahh the old Frank Gambale treatment, and quoting the great man himself 'the amount of right hand picking is reduced by 1/3' (from his 'speed picking' book, highly recommended if you don't have it already).
As you can see from fig a, economy picking won't work directly with the pattern as you would be playing down, up, down, down, up. And hence having to 'jump' over the 5th string in order to play the b on the 6th, you could here just mix your alternate picking even further here with your sweep picking or, to reach the most economic way of playing it, rearrange the positions of the notes played so as to properly fit into economy picking, this would mean making it harder for you left hand, but you'll usually find that once you can rely on the muscle memory of you left hand fingers the sequence will be much easier in this new version. I'll leave the rearranging to you so as you can learn and really understand how to use economy picking with any lick, phrase or sequence that you like. Just remember it's exactly like sweeping, when going one way you need an odd number of notes on each string, when changing direction you need an even number of notes on the string you're changing on.
Luckily the left hand principle is much simpler and is basically just this, as a general rule; never let the fingers of your fretting hand come further away that half an inch from the fret board!!! Simple eh?
the following bio material provided by Pete Lockhart
I'm 16 and have been playing guitar for 3 years. My main influences in conventional playing techniques are Rusty Cooley, Francesco Fareri, Steve Vai and John Petrucci. I am primarily a tapping player and user of 8 finger touch guitar techniques, my main influences in this style are Stanley Jordan, Bob Zabek, Adam Fulara and TJ Helmerich. I primarily use an Ibanez rg1527.