Sweep Picking II

Well, when you watch someone sweep, it will almost look like they are strumming, but their fret hand looks like they are picking complex patterns. From the looks of it, it may seem very complex, but the concept is actually quite simple. Now, don’t jump ahead and say “Oh, yeah! This might be easy!” On the contrary, sweeping is a very advanced guitar technique that can take tons of practice. The concept is easy, but the technique can take a while to get used to. Now, if you don’t have patience with it, you will probably never learn it. So, that being said, let’s get started!

Well actually, you first need to know that sweeping is most commonly associated with arpeggios. Almost all sweeping is done with arpeggios, though some advanced sweeping techniques use lots of legato runs while still in a sweep, it can get pretty complex. All right, I guess we can start now.

Firstly, this may seem like a bunch of gibberish at a glance, but I’m going to show you where to place your finger and on which frets relative to a eof an arpeggio/excersise. So bear with me. Now, Figure 1 is a simplified Am arpeggio.
When sweeping arpeggios, fingering is very important. At this point, you may want to use a different fingering, but when we move on to the full sized arpeggio, it will make more sense.


Figure 1:

So, looking at Figure 1, you will first place your ring finger on string 3, fret 14. This is where the sweep will start. In order to sweep, you need to have a good strumming form (so if you don’t, practice moving your wrist, when strumming, in a fluid motion, so that the motion doesn’t come from the upper arm or elbow. You’ll know it when you get it down). Ok, so begin the strumming motion there, and as soon as you strike the string, position your middle finger on the 2nd string, 13th fret, but at the same time take off your ring finger so the other string doesn’t ring out (the arpeggio will not sound very good if it rings out). Now apply that same “technique” as you move to the 1st string, 12th fret with your index finger. That’s the downstroke. Now for the upstroke.Here, you will start with your pinky on the 17th fret. Strike the strings upwards and pull it off of 17 to 12. Important! Do not start the upstroke here. It is a simple pull-off only. When you move to the 2nd string, 13th fret, using the same method you did for the downstroke (muting, etc.) you will start the sweep here. Continue to the 3rd string, 14th fret. There’s one full sweep! Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get it yet. It can take a while to build up the technique to play them fast enough.

To maintain a fluid sound, it is imperative that you do not repeat the 1st note of the arpeggio (here, it is on the 14th fret, 3rd string). Figure 2 shows you how it should be continuated.

Figure 2. Notice that the first note is note repeated. A ^ denotes the skipped string.


 D|----------------- ^ ------------ ^ ------------ ^ ---------------

Here’s where things get more complex and where fingering is very important – Full (or mostly full) arpeggio shapes. Figure 3 is the full Am arpeggio.


Figure 3:

The fingering here will be the same for the last 3 strings, but what about the other 2? Well, to start it off, take you index finger and put it on the 12th fret, 5th string. When you begin the sweep, hammer on to the 15th fret from the 12th with you pinky. I know, your pinky. If you are not used to using and stretching your pinky, I would suggest using it more often ’cause it is used a lot in shred. Now, here’s a hard part. Take you ring finger as you get to the 4th string and barre both the 4th and 3rd string on the 14th fret. Now to pull off the same fluid muted sound, you must execute a finger roll.Start with the tip of the finger when striking the 4th string and “roll” it down to the 3rd string, effectively muting the 4th string. Then proceed as usual and then back up the arpeggio. You must be preparred when you get to the 3rd string. You must start off with your finger “already rolled” and roll is up to the tip. And just strike the 15th fret 5th string to complete it.

When you start it over, make sure you start with the hammer on and not from the fifteenth fret. Sometimes you may accidentally pull off from 15 to 12 on the way back up. This is fine, but may be a little harder as your instinct will tell you to hammer back on to 15 when going back down. Instead just start on fifteen. Either way, take time to make it sound good and practice on clean!

Here are a couple of songs that have fun sweeping parts in it. Enjoy! And be patient!


"Liar" by Yngwie Malmsteen:
 B|-----6---6--------9----9-------10---10--------13----13--------| X2




Altitudes by Jason Becker:









Now that’s just part of the songs of course. I hope you enjoyed my lesson and found it helpful. If you are still not getting it, PM me or ask me a question and I’ll try to help you out. Hopefully everyone will find this a bigger help.

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