Combining Sweep Picking With String Skipping

How to combine 2 of the many popular metal guitar solo techniques, and how to apply them to your own solos.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
5
Hi there! Welcome to my very first UG lesson, which will be about string skipping in conjunction to sweep picking! Both are fairly tricky skills to master so I'd suggest to familiarize yourself with each technique before taking them on at the same time, and now it's time for a short introduction to both techniques just in case you're curious.

We all know string skipping from guitarists like Paul Gilbert. Essentially it's selecting the nicer notes from a chord, and playing them like an arpeggio but alternate picking them on a D, G and E string for example. So you're missing the B string, or "skipping" that string. Here's an example below:
 D major
e|-10----------------10----------------10-|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----14-11----11-14----11-14----11-14----|
D|----------12----------------12----------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
And I believe sweep picking doesn't need an introduction, but Ill give it one anyway! Jeff Loomis, Andy James, Alexi Laiho, Herman Li, are just 4 of the hundreds of established guitarists that use this. Sweep picking is fairly straight forward. You choose a chord, you break it apart, making it an arpeggio, and you economy pick that arpeggio by sweeping your pick down the strings, then sweeping it back up. Here's a small example of a 3 stringed arpeggio which you'd typically sweep pick:
 D major 
v v v ^ v ^ ^
E|-------14-17-14-------------
B|----15----------15----------
G|-14----------------14-------
D|----------------------------
A|----------------------------
E|----------------------------
Now that you're all familiar with both techniques, it's time to put them in a blender.

Here's part one.

This is a lick in F major that's relatively simple, start at 60/70bpm just so you can lock in your muscle memory before speeding it up as there is a roll with the first finger on the C and F of the arpeggio on the B and high e string that really trips the best of us up.

Figure 1

Treat as if they're quavers, and notice how its 16 notes in the phrase (repeated), so make sure your metronome/drum machine is in 4/4

^ up-pick - v downpick
   v  v  ^  v  ^  v  ^  ^  ^  v  v   v  ^  v  v  v  v
e:|---------13-17-13-----------------13-17-13----------------------|
b:|------------------13-----------------------13-------------------|
g:|---14-17-------------14----14-17--------------14----------------| x2
d:|15----------------------15-----------------------15-------------|
a:|----------------------------------------------------------------|
E:|----------------------------------------------------------------|
If you follwed the v's and ^'s, you should notice you're applying small amounts of economy picking, which may feel alien to you alternate pickers! Please belied, it wve me when I say that if you do pick the lick just like I diill make everything feel so much more smoother and quicker once you get used to it. But if you feel like alternate picking the lick and sweeping back up, then by all means!

Figure 2

Now that you (hopefully) have the last figure down nicely, Id like to introduce this into a 4 chord progression (Dm, Bbmaj, Cmaj, Edim) which resolves back to a Dm. Here is the second figure.

^ up-pick - v downpick
 v v ^ v ^ v ^ ^ v v ^ v ^ v ^ ^ v v ^ v ^ v ^ ^ 
e:|---------10-13-10----------------10-13-10---------------8-12-8----|
b:|------------------10----------------------11-------------------8--|
g:|---10-14-------------10----10-15-------------10----9-12----------9|
d:|12----------------------12----------------------10----------------|
a:|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E:|------------------------------------------------------------------|
   v  v  ^ v ^  v ^  ^  v 
e:|--------9-12-9----------------------------------------------------|
b:|---------------11-------------------------------------------------|
g:|---9-12-----------12----------------------------------------------| x2
d:|11-------------------12-------------------------------------------|
a:|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E:|------------------------------------------------------------------|
Now we're going to implement more strings. This way we can extend the arpeggios. In doing so gives us more room to get more creative. This will be more difficult than the first 2 figures I've given you so be sure to spend more time on it. This will involve all 6 strings, bends, and hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Figure 3

I'll split this into 8 parts. Before we begin, please note that at the very end of the third measure is 2 32nd notes, and that everything before and after are 16th notes. Those 32nd notes will be marked as 32 but please remember they are pull-offs. They lead into the fourth measure comfortably.

The first 4 measures involve a simple chord progression (E, D, G, A) and the solo itself is following these chords that are Em, D major, G major, A minor, then E minor, G major, B minor, C major. But the way I wrote it in the song, the first four measures of the lead fall over E, D (Octave), G add9, A minor7 which leads into an odd Em chord which has a major 2nd and a fifth below Bmin and Cmaj.

^ up-pick - v downpick - (b) full bend - h hammer-on - p pull-off - s slide

   v  p  p  ^  p  p  ^  ^  v  ^  v  v  s  v  v  v
e:|15-14-12-------------------------------------14|
b:|------------------------------------------15---|
g:|---------14-12-11----------------------14------| Part 1 Em, DMaj
d:|---------------------------------12-16---------|
a:|------------------12----------12---------------|
E:|---------------------14-10-14------------------|
   v  v h  v  v  h  v  ^  v  ^  v  ^  p  ^ v  h 
e:|-----------------10-12-14-12-10----------------|
b:|-----------------------------------------------|
g:|-----------11-14----------------14-11---11-14--| Part 2 Dmaj, Gmaj
d:|--------12----------------------------12-------|
a:|---9-12----------------------------------------|
E:|10---------------------------------------------|
   v  p  p  ^  p  p  h  h  v  ^  v  ^  (b)   32 32
e:|15-14-12----------------12-14-15-17--17---15-14
b:|-----------------------------------------------|
g:|---------14-12-11-12-14------------------------| Part 3 Em scale over Em, Dmaj
d:|-----------------------------------------------|
a:|-----------------------------------------------|
E:|-----------------------------------------------|
The bend on the D in this fourth measure is a bend and release.
e:|14-15-14---------------------------------------|
b:|---------15-------------15----------------13---|
g:|------------14-12-11-------14-12-11-12-14------| Part 4 Dmaj in relation to g and b and c
d:|---------------------12------------------------|
a:|-----------------------------------------------|
E:|-----------------------------------------------|
   v  p  p  ^  p  p  ^  ^  v  ^  v  v  s  v  v  v
e:|15-14-12-------------------------------------14|
b:|------------------------------------------15---|
g:|---------14-12-11----------------------14------| Part 5 Em Dmaj
d:|---------------------------------12-16---------|
a:|------------------12----------12---------------|
E:|---------------------14-10-14------------------|
   v  v h  v  v  h  v  ^  v  ^  v  ^  p  ^ v  h 
e:|-----------------10-12-14-12-10----------------|
b:|-----------------------------------------------|
g:|-----------11-14----------------14-11---11-14--| Part 6 Gmaj, Am
d:|--------12----------------------------12-------|
a:|---9-12----------------------------------------|
E:|10---------------------------------------------|
   v  p  p  ^  p  p  h  h  v  ^  v  ^  v
e:|15-14-12----------------12-14-15-17-19~--------|
b:|-----------------------------------------------|
g:|---------14-12-11-12-14------------------------| Part 7 Em, Dmaj
d:|-----------------------------------------------|
a:|-----------------------------------------------|
E:|-----------------------------------------------|
   v h  v  v  h  p  ^  ^  v  v  v  v  h  p  ^  ^ 
e:|-----------------------------------------------|
b:|--------------------------------12-13-12-------|
g:|--------11-12-11-------------12----------12----| Part 8 Bm, Cmaj
d:|-----12----------12-------14----------------14-|
a:|9-14----------------14-15----------------------|
E:|-----------------------------------------------|
Now, as I mentioned this solo usually falls over weird chords. I do have the Guitar Pro for this particular section that's available on request. You can contact me via Facebook or Soundcloud.

I really do hope this lesson makes sense to you all. I am too used to teaching face to face than I am writing text and catering for lots of you. Internet teaching is all new to me! So please be gentle and criticism is welcome. I hope you put this to practice.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ElderKirkus
    TYPO CORRECTION If you followed the v's and ^'s, you should notice you're applying small amounts of economy picking, which may feel alien to you alternate pickers! Please believe me when I say that if you do pick the lick just like I did, it'll make everything feel so much more smoother and quicker once you get used to it. But if you feel like alternate picking the lick and sweeping back up, then by all means!
    ElderKirkus
    Sorry guys, I'm getting notifcations of your comments, but I can't actually see them? Relatively new to this website. There's no expand option except in the notifications and it still doesn't show me the comment, so sorry if I'm slow!