Guitar Frenzy Friday - Basic Sweep Picking Guitar Lesson by John McCarthy

Ok you learned a few arpeggios in last weeks lesson Guitar Lesson - Arpeggio Basics, by John McCarthy and it’s time to start slipping these awesome little attention getters into your leads. You can play them with standard alternate picking and they will sound great or you can kick it up a notch and throw in some jaw dropping SWEEP PICKING! In this lesson I’m going to get you started with this technique and give you some of my personal examples and exercises.

First of all let me clarify what sweep picking is by definition;

Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is a technique used on the guitar in which a 'sweeping' motion of the pick is combined with a matching fret hand technique in order to produce a specific series of notes which are fast and fluid in sound. Despite being commonly known as sweep picking, both hands essentially perform an integral motion in unison to achieve the desired effect.

Now I’m going to give you an arpeggio to use and I have a few tips that can really help you get this technique rocking. This is a basic “A” Major arpeggio. I played this arpeggio over and over so many times when I was first learning how to sweep I literally drove everyone in my house crazy, my sisters would whip shoes at me and scream STOP! And the reality of pissing them off I think gave me even more incentive to continue.

The Examples
Try example 1 below using these tips;
·         Holds the pick very loosely, don’t tighten up your hand, wrist or arm.
·         Don’t peck your pick at each note hold your hand in one position and drag it across the strings almost like you were brushing a finger across a metal rake.

Now I’m going to share with you an exercise that helped me out a lot when I was mastering this technique. Play the exercise in example 2 below moving it up the neck one fret at a time.

Now you should be sweeping away I’m going to go one step further and give you some of my favorite sweep patterns. All these are movable and can be played in any key, the first note of each will be the root note or key. 

Example 3 is an “A” minor arpeggio in the same position as the “A” Major arpeggio we first used and will have the same all down all up picking sequence.

Example 4 is my favorite “A” minor arpeggio because it is full sounding and can be played quickly and easily. I sometimes add a right hand tap on the first string 17th fret (the “A” note) to embellish the root note. To get the consistent sweep picking motion you must start with an up pick, this is because there are two notes played on this string and by starting with an up stroke you can come down on the second note and continue the sweep across the rest of the strings.  One trick here is to roll your finger across the two 14th fret notes, by placing your 3rd finger flat across the 4th and 5th strings then rolling it up or down depending on if you are going forward or backwards to make a smooth seamless sound.

Example 5 is a sixth string root position “A” minor arpeggio that will also start with an up pick using the same picking variation as Example 4.

Remember all these arpeggios are movable so try to play them in other spots around the neck in all keys.  Now what are you waiting for…..get sweeping.

I’m sure you are signing autographs now and getting ready for your next performance, save me a seat at your next performance Rock Star!

©2009 - 2011 Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com

1 comment:

guitar picks said...

Thank God I found this post. I am really desperate to learn this technique because this will surely bring more life to my guitar playing. Thank you so much for sharing these lessons. You are really great with your craft!