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Sweep Picking

This lesson we will be covering sweep picking, a technique used a lot in shred playing. It's also known as economy picking. Basically you are playing downstrokes and upstrokes on 2 or more strings consecutively, raking the pick across the strings.

Imagine a violin bow brushing across the strings. The notes cannot run together like a chord and it is good to start with a couple strings at a time and then add 3 strings, 4,5,6. (Also check out A closer look at sweep-picking for more basic exercises -Ed.)

For example, start with a 2 string idea like this Am arpeggio:

Master this first, then move on to 3 strings etc. It is important to practice this slowly and evenly, use a metronome. Many players who start learning this technique sometimes rush and leave notes out, so take your time, be patient and it will pay off, believe me.

The examples I will be showing you are from my latest DVD "Creative Speed-Building Picking Techniques" Ok, let me show you some examples...

Ex.1: In our first example, we have a 3 string arpeggio run in the key of E min moving up the chord scale (Em, F# dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D). The right hand picking pattern is the same through the whole run, down pick the first note, then pull off, down pick the second string and the up pick the last three notes consecutively. You must lift each finger off every note after you pluck them:

Ex.2: This is a 4 string pattern based off the E min pentatonic scale (E,G,A,B,D) following the 5 main scale patterns. The right hand uses the same pattern all the way through, 4 down strokes then 3 upstrokes. Be sure to follow the fingerings playing this one, start slow and then build up speed:

Ex.3: Now we have a 5 and 6 string arpeggio pattern in G minor using 4 Gm arpeggios (G,Bb,D) They are linked together across the whole neck using sweep picking with hammer ons and pull offs. This one covers a lot of fretboard territory, make sure you follow the right and left hand symbols on the notation and practice very cleanly without skipping notes:

Ex.4: This is a line constructed with 4 extended arpeggios. The first one is C 6/9 (C,E,G,A,D), then Bm11 (B,D,F#,A,C#,E). Move the same shape down 2 frets to Am11 (A,C,E,G,B,D) and finally F 6/7 (F,A,C,D,E). The first 3 notes of each arpeggio are alternate picked, for the rest I use sweep picking. Be sure to follow the proper fingerings, start slow and then build speed:

Ex.5: Let me show you some arpeggios going across the neck. Here we have 2 arpeggios Am (A,C,E) and G (G,B,D). The first 3 strings I use sweep picking and then I alternate pick the rest. Be sure to use the fingerings supplied and experiment with other arpeggios moving across the neck:

These examples only scratch the surface, be sure to experiment and write your own sweep picking lines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me using the article feedback feature by clicking on 'rate article' below. Be sure to check out my DVD "Creative Speed-Building Picking Techniques" and check out my Latest CD release, "Hidden Treasures". Also visit mikecampese.com for more information.

Click HERE for a Powertab-file containing all examples from this article, or click HERE for a pdf-version of that powertab-file (for Adobe Acrobat Reader).


About the Author
GIT-graduate Mike Campese describes himself as an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric, and acoustic. He released three CDs, "Total Freedom", "Full Circle" and "Vibe", played on the "Warmth in The Wilderness" album and released an instructional video for ChopsFromHell. Check out Mike's official website Mikecampese.com. You can listen to soundfiles of Mike's work, including clips of the songs from his newest album "Vibe".

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