Sweep Picking Excercises

author: Unregistered date: 12/17/2010 category: guitar techniques
rating: 9.2 / votes: 12 
Sweep picking is basically an expansion on playing individual notes in a chord. I spent my time learning the technique by starting with expanded triads. I base all of these shapes off of the D major scale, but they can be slid up and down the neck. I would suggest you play either clean or with an acoustic, as adding distortion and amplification can cause to hide your problems, fix them as you find them and be sure to be picky, this method takes a lot of practice. To start out, get used to playing a few different major and minor triads, like so
     D    F#m  Bm   G
e|---------9---2---------|
B|---10---10---3----3----|
G|---11---11---4----4----|
D|---12-------------5----|
A|-----------------------|
E|-----------------------|
These triads are easiest to learn beginner's sweep technique because they only use the first, second and third finger, making it easier to expand one note in by either moving the third finger or adding the fourth. Now, to begin actually sweeping, you must get the left hand motion down, basically, you do as the technique says, sweep across the strings as if strumming only slower. If you are doing this correctly, you'll hear the individual notes hold out. Start by getting used to strumming down, and then try going the other way
*Finger used*    3  2  1  1  2  3
            e|---------------------|
            B|---------10-10-------|
            G|------11-------11----|
            D|---12-------------12-|
            A|---------------------|
            E|---------------------|
              *important later*
Repeat that until you can give each note clear distinction, once you have it down, try and roll your fingers to mute the notes after they've been played to add more distinction from note to note. Once you have that all down and clean, you get to the fun part the expanding on the chord. You want to make sure you can do all of this extremely well, clean, without any added effects. Basically to expand on the chord, you add notes, usually within the scale, to the chord, by hammering on while continuing through the sweep. This is extremely hard to do so don't get frustrated when learning this at first, it takes practice. One of my favorite sweeps is the D major sweep I often use that adds a B over the A or a Sixth after the fifth in the scale. Start out with only going up to the B or sixth, like this:
     3  2  1  3            3  2  1  4
e|---------------|    e|---------------|
B|---------10h12-|    B|---------10h12-|
G|------11-------| OR G|------11-------|
D|---12----------|    D|---12----------|
A|---------------|    A|---------------|
E|---------------|    E|---------------|
I personally prefer this way, as it allows me personally to add more distinction to the notes by removing my third finger from the 12 fret or D. Practice that until clean. If you wish to further expand you can add onto the high E string a D and an E, hammered on in the same way. I would also not suggest this until later, as it involves rolling your first finger without moving it, which takes much practice, especially for a beginner but adding the D and E will look like this:
     3  2  1  3  1  3            3  2  1  4  1  4
e|---------------10h12-|    e|---------------10h12-|
B|---------10h12-------|    B|---------10h12-------|
G|------11-------------|    G|------11-------------|
D|---12----------------| OR D|---12----------------|
A|---------------------|    A|---------------------|
E|---------------------|    E|---------------------|
Once you have built the ability to go up on this technique, the harder part is going back down. Depending on how you wish this particular sweep to sound depends much on this. The two ways for which I use most often are as such:
     3  2  1  *  *  1  2  3            3  2  1  *  1  1  2  3
e|---------------------------|    e|---------------------------|
B|---------10h12-12p10-------|    B|---------10h12p10-10-------|
G|------11-------------11----|    G|------11-------------11----|
D|---12-------------------12-| OR D|---12-------------------12-|
A|---------------------------|    A|---------------------------|
E|---------------------------|    E|---------------------------|
*3rd or 4th finger depending on how you decided to learn previous parts. If you have already expanded onto the E string:
     3  2  1  *  1  *  *  1  *  1  2  3
e|---------------10h12-12p10-------------|
B|---------10h12-------------12p10-------|
G|------11-------------------------11----|
D|---12-------------------------------12-|
A|---------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------|
 
OR
     3  2  1  *  1  *  1  1  *  1  2  3
e|---------------10h12p10-10-------------|
B|---------10h12-------------12p10-------|
G|------11-------------------------11----|
D|---12-------------------------------12-|
A|---------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------|
Practice those meticulously; they take much work, especially going up and then back down, you have to sweep both ways or else you won't have the ability to play as fast. One of the problems I have had personally was that sweeping down felt easy, but sweeping up felt unnatural and I kept wanting to individually play the notes rather than following through on the chords. I fixed this by practicing sweeping the chord shape without expanding the extra notes. This allowed me to focus on the left hand, which for most people, is the unnatural part of sweeping. One you get the right hand down, most of the finger and hammer-ons are easy, especially for advanced players.
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