Sweep Exercises For Beginners

author: kaplots date: 04/01/2009 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.6 / votes: 18 
These exercises are for beginners learning sweep picking, but advanced sweepers could use them as warmups. I haven't seen these exercises in any of the other sweeping lessons, so I thought I would put them out there. When I first began trying to sweep, my fingers wouldn't come off the fretboard which would cause ringing, so I looked at the problem and then forced myself to be able to move them. I will show you these 4 pieces firstly, because they are used to synchronise the picking and the release of your fingers so that there is no ringing. These are in first position, but they can be played anywhere else on the fretboard.
    u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d
|----------------------------|
|------2-----3-----4-----3---|
|---1-----1-----1-----1------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|

|----------------------------|
|------1-----3-----4-----3---|
|---2-----2-----2-----2------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|

|----------------------------|
|------1-----2-----4-----2---|
|---3-----3-----3-----3------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|

|----------------------------|
|------1-----2-----3-----2---|
|---4-----4-----4-----4------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
The trick is to pick the first string, then as you fret and pick the next string, let go slightly of the previous, so that it mutes it and it won't ring. Then do the same going down. I probably explained that a bit weird, but you'll understand what I mean when you try it. Doing these patterns made me fix my problems with synchronisation, and mobility. Now, on to sweeping... To get your fingers working independantly, and to build strength, heres what I came up with:
  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------2--1----------------|
|-------------1--------2-------------|
|----------2--------------1----------|
|-------1--------------------2-------|
|----2--------------------------1----|
|-1--------------------------------2-|
I do this with 1st and 2nd fingers. These patterns are to be looped. Again, I'm showing this in 1st position just because it's easier to read, but they can be used in any position of course, and I would recommend that you use them higher up on the fretboard as well. This next one is used with 1st and 3rd fingers.
  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------3--1----------------|
|-------------1--------3-------------|
|----------3--------------1----------|
|-------1--------------------3-------|
|----3--------------------------1----|
|-1--------------------------------3-|
...and 1st and 4th.
  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------4--1----------------|
|-------------1--------4-------------|
|----------4--------------1----------|
|-------1--------------------4-------|
|----4--------------------------1----|
|-1--------------------------------4-|
Here's where it gets a bit trickier for your fingers, and I'm warning you not to put too much strain on your hands by overworking them. These exercises do pay off. These next 3 start on the 2nd finger.
  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------1--2----------------|
|-------------2--------1-------------|
|----------1--------------2----------|
|-------2--------------------1-------|
|----1--------------------------2----|
|-2--------------------------------1-|

|----------------3--2----------------|
|-------------2--------3-------------|
|----------3--------------2----------|
|-------2--------------------3-------|
|----3--------------------------2----|
|-2--------------------------------3-|

|----------------4--2----------------|
|-------------2--------4-------------|
|----------4--------------2----------|
|-------2--------------------4-------|
|----4--------------------------2----|
|-2--------------------------------4-|

Then starting on the 3rd finger...

  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------1--3----------------|
|-------------3--------1-------------|
|----------1--------------3----------|
|-------3--------------------1-------|
|----1--------------------------3----|
|-3--------------------------------1-|

|----------------2--3----------------|
|-------------3--------2-------------|
|----------2--------------3----------|
|-------3--------------------2-------|
|----2--------------------------3----|
|-3--------------------------------2-|

|----------------4--3----------------|
|-------------3--------4-------------|
|----------4--------------3----------|
|-------3--------------------4-------|
|----4--------------------------3----|
|-3--------------------------------4-|

...and finally the 4th finger.

  d  d  d  d  d  d  u  u  u  u  u  u
|----------------1--4----------------|
|-------------4--------1-------------|
|----------1--------------4----------|
|-------4--------------------1-------|
|----1--------------------------4----|
|-4--------------------------------1-|

|----------------2--4----------------|
|-------------4--------2-------------|
|----------2--------------4----------|
|-------4--------------------2-------|
|----2--------------------------4----|
|-4--------------------------------2-|

|----------------3--4----------------|
|-------------4--------3-------------|
|----------3--------------4----------|
|-------4--------------------3-------|
|----3--------------------------4----|
|-4--------------------------------3-|
Keep practising these exercises slowly, then gain speed, and you should be very nimble at sweep picking. All of these exercises were mainly to increase strength and mobility. Although continued practice of these, will lead to fast playing. This was my first ever lesson. I hope you liked it.
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