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An Introduction To Sweep-Picking V 2.0

From Economy Picking to Sweeping

The basic-idea of "Sweeping" is very close to "Strumming", as in "Strum a chord". But in Sweeping, there's one important difference: The single notes you're playing shouldn't ring together, that means you only hear one note at a time. To achive that, you'll need a really good muting technique for the left hand, because when the right hand is Sweeping, the left hand has to fret the note at the same time the right hand is picking it, and then it has to immediately mute that note and to fret the next note on the next string, which the right hand will pick next.

One of the hardest things to do when sweep picking is playing arps with notes at the same fret on adjacent string. Below you´ll see one of those in bar No.1, and in bar 2 you´ll see a "rolling exercise". This is an exercise that will prepare you for those kind of arpeggios, and the way it works is:

You´re using let´s say the ring finger for all the notes at the 14th fret, so what you gotta do is bend and roll your finger so that the notes don´t ring together at all. The finger has to fret each note only while it is picked. After that, you roll the finger (and bend it) so you fret the note on the next string while muting ("un-fretting") the previous notes... try it with all your fingers, and use a bit of gain on your amp so you can hear for sure whether the notes ring together or not!

As you can see already, you have to pay a lot of attention to accuracy here.

OK, one more thing to point out. If you never tried sweeping, if this is a new concept for you, one of the tough parts about it might be that you have to do something unusual with both your left and right hand. (Consecutive picking motion with the right, rolling and fretting each note of a chord on its own with the left hand). So what you should do is: split it up. Use open strings and concentrate entirely on the right hand while getting the picking motion to work. Remember that the pick should kinda fall from one string to the other... make sure all notes ring for the same amount of time, start with three strings, then 4, 5 until you reach 6.

OK, here are some basic exercises.
This one is one I was taught at the GIT, and it is something I always use to warm up a bit and get my hand used to the picking motion again. Do this one over and over until it works perfectly. You can even do it while watching TV (I used to do it while I was in the car), just make sure that you check from time to time whether it is still all acurate...

Also pay attention to the left hand. Each note at the 5th/12th fret is fretted with the first finger, each one on the 6th/13th with the 2nd finger, each one on the 7th/14th with the third finger, and each note on the 8th/15th fret with your pinkie... this exercise helped me a lot in the beginning to get used to the technique and to get my left hand used to the concept of fretting each note of an arp on its own...

Let´s add a fourth string with this next, chromatic exercise.

As you can see, the first arp is twisted so you have four different versions. Play this exercise all over the neck. You might realize at some point that one direction might be easier for you than the other. If that happens focus on the one you´re not as good at and work on that one on it´s own!

OK, we are up to four strings now. I would like to point out that it would be a good idea to make up your own exercises too. If you should happen to find a certain problem, isolate it, work on it and eliminate it.

Here is an exercise I picked up from Vinnie Moore. It features a well known arpeggio shape, and will help you to work on your accuracy. This shape is often being used when sweep-picking... play it all over the neck...

One variation would be to play the notes on the high E-string with an upstroke, so it´s d-d-d-d-u-u-u-u for each arpeggio... try that variation too.

The next exercise consists of Arps in the key of A minor, ranging over all the six strings. Continue it further up and go down again. Try it in different keys and with other arps (maj7 & min7, add9, dim) too.

Adding Hammer Ons / Pull Offs >>