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Blog - Sweep Picking Part 1


Welcome to the magical and mystical world of Sweep Picking! “A technique often assumed only to be worthy of Jazz and Metal virtuoso guitarist! “ While there maybe a small amount of truth in the above sentence it highlights that this technique often typifies those genres of music (Chuck Wayne and Steve Vai etc).

There are many examples across the web of mammoth Sweep Picking licks ascending and descending the fretboard at speed. However this technique when used within a phrase or guitar lick can offer great benefits and will allow you to sound more like a pro rather than ‘Roadrunner’!

Application of the Technique

Sweep Picking focuses on the synchronization between your fretting and picking hands while performing an arpeggio (‘Broken Chord’ – where notes are played in sequence one after the other rather than being strummed at once) or series of notes across the guitar strings in a vertical manner spanning numerous frets.

The technique involves ‘sweeping’ the pick/plectrum across the guitar strings in one movement – either using a down stroke or upstroke motion rather than Economy or Alternative Picking. This results in a smooth fluid movement of the fretting and picking hands and produces an even sounding series of notes.

In order to achieve the maximum amount of clarity and definition of the notes being performed it is essential for each individual note to be muted after being fretted. This is done by focusing on the movement in your fretting hand so that once the note has been played the finger is relaxed, raising / lifting it slightly to mute the note and stop it ringing out. This should be performed with every note 'sweeped' within the lick / arpeggios.

Exercise 1 - focus on the synchronization between your hands and rather than increasing the speed of metronome changing the note values from quarters to eights to sixteenth notes. Once you are comfortable with each note permutation then begin changing the tempo...enjoy!

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