#1
Hey guys -- let me just give you a little background first.  I've been playing for 20+ years and I'm not a teenager that wants to work on his sik sweepz so he can impress people at Guitar Center.

I think that sweep picking, when overused, is dumb.   However, I've finally come around to the realization that it may be something I can use occasionally in my music.  I've recently started to add a lot more lead playing into my solo music and I've come to a point in a few of my songs where I've thought that a tasteful bit of sweeping might sound good.  Here's a track where I did a very short passage of sweeping (skip to 2:56 to hear the sweep):  https://soundcloud.com/kailm-1/toward-the-gallows

Anyway, that's only a EDIT: three-string sweep, which I can handle relatively easily.  However, I'm currently working on a 5-string sweep passage that is much, much more difficult, mainly for my left hand.  I can play the whole thing quite slowly and stay clean, but I'm making very slow progress on getting it up to speed.  Is it simply a matter of getting it perfect at a slow speed, and then practicing it 10,000 (or even 100,000) times in order to get it up to the 180ish bpm level?  If so, I'm willing to do the time, lol -- but just wanted to get any advice you guys might have.

My biggest problem, I think, is that I can alternate pick very fast and play rhythm quite fast -- so it's hard to be disciplined and not try to jump ahead and speed this up before I'm ready.
Last edited by KailM at Jul 28, 2017,
#2
If you've been playing 20+ years then you should pick it up pretty naturally and progress much faster than the usual 15 year old. I'd just give it the necessary time and you should be fine. Muting is the most important part of sweep picking as you likely already know. Keep at it and you'll get there
I gave your song a little listen and it was awesome by the way. Reminds me of the album Odyssey to the West by Slice the Cake.. I can definitely hear the staccato sound to your sweep picking, but it sounds like your muting is reasonable, even though it's somewhat hard to hear over the production. I'd just say keep practicing and give it time. Best of luck
#3
Quote by vayne92
If you've been playing 20+ years then you should pick it up pretty naturally and progress much faster than the usual 15 year old. I'd just give it the necessary time and you should be fine. Muting is the most important part of sweep picking as you likely already know. Keep at it and you'll get there
I gave your song a little listen and it was awesome by the way. Reminds me of the album Odyssey to the West by Slice the Cake.. I can definitely hear the staccato sound to your sweep picking, but it sounds like your muting is reasonable, even though it's somewhat hard to hear over the production. I'd just say keep practicing and give it time. Best of luck

Thanks man!  I may have actually alternate picked on that little section which could explain some of the staccato sound.  When it came to recording that part I played it over and over like 15 times and then I went back and selected the best take.  Actually, that's two different takes of the same thing blended together just to add a little thickness to the lead sound.  Occasionally when I was tracking them I alternate picked instead of sweeping.

Another question I have actually pertains to that unwanted staccato effect when sweeping:  When I'm practicing slowly, it's very hard to avoid that sound where it seems I'm deliberately picking each string separately as I go down.  But when I speed up, it does start to sound more fluid, as the pick kind of glides over each string a little more naturally without "catching."  (Problem is, at the moment, my left hand can't consistently keep up when I speed up my right hand).  Is this a case where it will get smoother as I build up speed, or should it sound smooth and non-staccato even when I'm sweeping very slowly?  I want to practice as perfectly as possible at slow speeds to that it sounds right when I finally have the skill nailed.

This seems to be a problem mainly on the downstroke; my upstrokes are already cleaner, faster, and more accurate.
#4
It's actually unusual to me that as an experienced player your fretting hand can't keep up with your picking hand. Usually it's the other way around. There's a good way to practice separating both the picking and fretting hand for sweep picking but it's really early in the morning so I can't post a quick video to explain how. I'll try to get it done before I head to work.
I think to a certain extent it will sound a BIT more staccato when slowing it down, but it's also possible you're using too much wrist and replicating that standard picking sound as a result. As you know, with essentially every aspect of playing guitar you want to use your wrist and not your arm, and in particular not use your elbow. Sweep picking is almost an exception to this rule. You use your arm in sweep picking more than any other speed related technique. The movement of the arm almost negates the effect of your pick "catching" to some extent. I'm of course just making some generic assumptions here as to what could be your problem because I can't see yourself playing. I'll also quickly note that it's not "wrong" to use your wrist in sweep picking, I just consider the use of arm more of an exception for this particular technique.

This video is pretty good for analyzing the sweep picking technique:



You do notice that while there is wrist involved there's a lot of arm too. It also does get a bit more staccato as he slows down, but even then not all that much really.

EDIT:

So here's a good way of isolating your fretting hand if you feel the need. I think you get the idea. I wouldn't usually recommend it because you completely neglect muting with your picking hand, but as an experienced player like yourself it can be handy. Forgive the poor audio quality.

Last edited by vayne92 at Jul 28, 2017,
#5
vayne92 

Even though I've been playing for a long time, I have largely focused on extreme metal rhythm playing for the last 15 years or so.  Before that, the only "lead" playing was simple pentatonic scale noodling.  It wasn't until I started seriously recording and composing solo material that I found a need for better lead playing.  I am actually left-handed but play right-handed, so you'd think my fretting hand could do some really great stuff -- but I just haven't taken as much time to develop it.  If you asked me to play 220+ bpm thrash galloping,  technical death metal chugs, and tremelo picking, well, I can do that in my sleep, haha.  So my right hand technique is indeed stronger than my left, because a lot of that stuff doesn't rely on very rapid changes in chords.

The particular passage I'm working on right now is a 5-string sweep that spans 6 frets, so it's definitely far more than anything I've ever asked my fretting hand to do.  But it's coming along.  I'm going to spend some time watching both hands to analyze exactly how I'm doing it.  Thanks for those videos -- I really like Andy James's technique; I might try to get my technique close to that.    
#6
Quote by KailM

The particular passage I'm working on right now is a 5-string sweep that spans 6 frets, so it's definitely far more than anything I've ever asked my fretting hand to do.  But it's coming along.  I'm going to spend some time watching both hands to analyze exactly how I'm doing it.  Thanks for those videos -- I really like Andy James's technique; I might try to get my technique close to that.    


Personally I think 4-5 string sweeps are the best to start out. 3 string sweeps are hardly a sweep because you're hardly utilizing the full sweep motion and instead focusing more so on the switch from up to down sweeping. 4-5 string sweeps you get a real good feel for the whole sweep movement and aren't mostly focusing on the switch like you are with 3 string sweeps. For that reason focusing on Andy James' 3 string minor sweep probably isn't the best idea. He's a phenomenal player though.
If you're looking for something more musical to practice to I'd recommend this particular song:

1:50 onwards. The last section is basically just a minute of constant sweep picking.



Once again, usually I wouldn't recommend a piece like this to anyone who is starting out sweep picking, but you're a rare exception. It's something you could likely achieve given your experience, and it's also a good exercise that utilizes a lot of different yet common patterns, including a bunch of much dreaded rolls which pretty much everyone sucks at whether or not they're willing to admit it haha.
Anyways, that's just a piece I'd recommend because it helped me a lot when I was learning sweeping.

Also 6:20 onward in this song. Same idea really.

#7
vayne92

Yeah, I've always been very impressed with that song Mea Culpa! I never thought I'd be able to play anything like that but maybe it's worth a try. I think for my own music though, there would never be such a long stretch of sweep picking-- more of a surprise sweep here and there. Jari from Wintersun does it a tasteful amount of the time, in my opinion.

Actually, I'm familiar with that BTBAM song as well. I'll have to go back and listen to their catalog again and practice some riffs I know rather than writing my own from scratch. I could gauge my progress by how close it sounds to the original that way.

Anyway-- thanks again for all the great advice!
#8
Quote by KailM
Jari from Wintersun does it a tasteful amount of the time


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