Bass Sweeping

author: corrda00 date: 09/18/2008 category: the guide to
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Sweep picking or sweeping, what every you may call it is a technique used to play arpeggios by "sweeping" across the strings. Guitarists have used this technique since around the 80's, popularized by names like Yngwe Malmsteen and micheal anglelo batio. Sweeping on bass is different than guitar however in the 2 ways. First obviously you have 4 strings rather than 6 (unless your crazy rich) and even on a 6 stringer it's a different tuning. The second way it's different is that there is more than one way to do arpeggios on bass. By what I've gathered I've found 3 common methods: Sweep picking, Fingerstyle, and tapping.

Sweep picking:

This is the most common method, since it's already been done on guitar. If you use a pick this is the method you'd use. You can also do it with fingers if you sweep down with your thumb and up with your finger. Heres how to do it. First you have to get the right hand motion of the sweep. In fig 1 you first sweep across the strings down, then leave a rest(you'll see why later) and sweep up back to the original note. Fig 1.
G-------x-r-x-------| D-----x-------x-----| A---x-----------x---| E-x---------------x-| D D D D you U you U
Once you've got that you can start playing notes Like in fig 2.(all examples are major sweeps) The rest in the last one was to leave room for the hammer-pull.(this position works any where on the strings). Fig 2.
G-------14h17p14--------| D-----14---------14-----| A---17-------------17---| E-19-----------------19-| D D D D you U you U
Tip: to make it a arpeggio rather than a chord you have to lift your finger after you play each note; to mute it before moving on to the next.(This applies to all techniques. This however isn't the full arpeggio it ends on the 5th note. To complete the arpeggio you have to tap the last note like in Fig 3. Fig 3.
G-------14h17-23-p14-------| D-----14------------14-----| A---17----------------17---| E-19--------------------19-| D D D D you U you U

Fingerstyle:

This is another method of doing arpeggios on bass. Heres the concept: 4 strings, 4 fingers. Coincidence? This is a harder method I find but remarkably easy to explain. 1 means index, 2 means middle ect.(on the right hand I mean) Heres fig 4.(and like the last one try without tapping first) Fig 4.
G-------14h17-23-p14-------| D-----14------------14-----| A---17----------------17---| E-19--------------------19-| 1 2 3 4 (1) 3 2 1

Tapping arpeggios:

This is a technique I mainly learned off of protest the hero. Like the finger style principle only 4 strings, 8 fingers!? In this technique you just tap every note (the position is different) here it is in fig 5.
G-----------9-14p9-----------| D--------10--------10--------| A---7-10--------------10-7---| T= right hand tap E-8------------------------8-| t= left " " t t T t t T t T t t
Its easier than it looks once you get a hang of it. Now once you got the hang of those I'll show you a minor sweep position and tap position. (sweep is the same position as fingerstyle) Sweep
T G-------14h16-23-p14-------| D-----14------------14-----| A---16----------------16---| E-19--------------------19-|
Tap
G-----------8-14p8-----------| D--------10--------10--------| A---6-10--------------10-6---| T= right hand tap E-8------------------------8-| t= left " " t t T t t T t T t t
These positions also work anywhere on the stings. I'm not the biggest pro at sweeping so don't blame me if some of this is wrong but it's at least 80% right.So that's it for bass sweeping. Have fun with it. Now you'll have something to show off to your guitarists. At least that's what I use it for. Enjoy.
More corrda00 columns:
+ How To Write Chordal Basslines. Part 1 - Fifths Music Theory 03/18/2011
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