Speed Playing. Part 2

This time were going to be looking at neo-classical playing, sweep picking, string skipping and more.

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Ultimate Guitar
18
In Speed Playing 2 were going to look at some more advanced speed playing techniques to expand your skills and help you shred till your fingers bleed. As before there will be plenty of excersises and tips to help you along the way. This lesson will be split into 4 sections: 1. Neo-Classical Playing 2. Sweep Picking 3. String Skipping 4. Using these techniques musically

Neo-Classical Playing

Ok so maybe you've heard of this, neo-classical basically means new-classical, as neo in latin meand new. Yngwie Malmsteen uses this style a lot, this style focus on fast paced playing, highly technical phrases and repeat(pedal) licks. Before we start lets just look at 2 scales which neo-classical players use frequently. Harmonic Minor A B C D E F G# - 1 2 3 4 5 6 #7 As you can see this simply is an A minor scale with a raised 7th. Melodic Minor A B C D E F# G# - 1 2 3 4 5 #6 #7 This is the same A minor scale with a raised 6th and 7th. The harmonic minor is quite simple, yet the melodic minor is a strange scale because you play it normal ascending, but lower the 6th descending, so it convertes back to the harmonic minor. As you can see in the example below:
E|------------------------------5----------------------------------------
B|--------------------------6-9---9-6------------------------------------
G|--------------------5-7-9-----------9-7-5------------------------------
D|--------------6-7-9-----------------------9-7-6------------------------
A|--------5-7-8-----------------------------------8-7-5------------------
E|--5-7-8-----------------------------------------------8-7-5------------
This is simply the A harmonic minor scale, as you can see its just a copy of the minor scale with a raised 7th.
E|------------------------------5----------------------------------------
B|--------------------------7-9---9-6------------------------------------
G|--------------------5-7-9-----------9-7-5------------------------------
D|--------------6-7-9-----------------------9-7-6------------------------
A|--------5-7-9-----------------------------------8-7-5------------------
E|--5-7-8-----------------------------------------------8-7-5------------
This the A Melodic minor scale, it has a raised 6th and 7th descending and then only a raised 6th descending, or in other words it changes to the harmonic minor scale. Here are a couple of pedal licks, they seem quite simple but most players play them very fast:
E|--12-11-8----8-11-12-11-8----8-11-12-11-8----8-11-12-11-8--------------
B|----------11--------------11--------------11--------------11-----------
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
E|-----13-15-13----13-17-13----13-17-13----13-17-13----13-17-13----------
B|--14----------14----------14----------14----------14----------14-------
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
E|--17----------------17----------------19----------------19-------------
B|-----17-19-20-19-17----17-19-20-19-17----19-20-22-20-19----19-20-22----
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
As you can see, these licks sound quite classical and played at high speeds can sound great in solos. That last one will be quite tricky as its so high on the neck ,if you're struggling try it an octave lower. Lets look at a couple of examples from other songs so you can get an idea of what neo-classical licks can sound like: Michael Angelo Batio - No Boundaries:
E|--------12----13-12-------------15----12-------------------------------
B|-----13----13-------15-13-12-15----15----15-13h15p13p12-------13----15-
G|--14----------------------------------------------------14-12----14----
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----------------------------12----------------------------------------
B|--13-12h13p12-------------12----15-13h15p13p12-------------------------
G|--------------14-13----13----------------------------------------------
D|--------------------14-------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Steve Vai - Eugenes trick bag

E-----------------------------17-15-13------------|
B-----13-17-13----15-17-15-13----------17-15-13---|
G--14----------16-------------------------------16|play this
D-------------------------------------------------|part twice
A-------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------|

E--------------17-15-13----------19-17-15---------|
B-----14-17-14----------17-14-15----------18-17-15|
G--14---------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------|

E-----------------------------17-15---------------|
B--------15----18-17-15-------------18-17-15------|
G-----16----16----------16-17----------------17-16|
D--17---------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------|

E-------------------------------------------------|
B--------------18-17-15----------18---------------|
G-----14-17-14----------17----16----19-17---------|
D--15----------------------18-------------19------|
A-------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------|
As you can see from these 2 licks, there played very fast and high up the neck, usually grouped together but the using the same kind of minor progression. One last thing were going to look at in neo-classical playing is diminished arpeggios.These are simply a triad but with a minor second and minor (diminished) third. So a C diminished chord would be C, Eb, Gb. These small 3 string arpeggios are a shape which can be repeated on the neck so for example:
E|-----------13h16p13----------------13h16p13----------------10h13p10----
B|--------15----------15----------15----------15----------12----------12-
G|--13h16----------------13h16p13----------------13/10h13----------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|--------------10h13p10--------------7h10p7------------7h10p7-----------
B|-----------12----------12---------9--------9--------9--------9-------4-
G|--10h13p10----------------10/7h10------------7h10p7------------7/2h5---
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|--2h5p2-----------2h5p2------------------------------------------------
B|--------4-------4-------4----------------------------------------------
G|----------2h5p2-----------5p2------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
These can be tricky arpeggios, the intial hammer on is quite off putting but you don't have to play them too fast. Diminished can sound good in neo-classical playing but use them sparingly, the occasional one or 2 together with minor or major arpeggios can sound good, but a whole series of them wont.

Sweep Picking

A technique everyone loves, there's so many lessons on UG about this so I'll just break it down into a few small vital tips: 1. The main focus of sweep picking is synchronisation. Sometimes your fretting hand will move to fast and sometimes your picking hand will move too fast. Remember to play very slowly and follow both hands equally, it's much better to play slow accurate arpeggios than fast sloppy ones. 2. Muting. One of the most annoying things when you but some distortion on sweep picking is unwanted noise. Your fretting hands needs to fret the note exactly as you play it and leave as soon as the note is heard. Your picking hand can aslo slighlty drag down gently on the bridge to mute as you go. Don't mute heavily ,just a slight mute especailly on the lower strings. 3. Emphasing the lowest and highest note. Especially with 5 string and minor arpeggios, making sure the lowest and highest note is heard clearly will make your arpeggios sound nicer. Focus on hearing that first downstroked note and hit that pull off loud and clean, this gives your arpeggio a rich, noticable sound which stands out. Major Arpeggios Ok we know an arpeggio consists of the notes of a traid, so a C major will have the notes C, E, G. So how do we find arpeggios quickly on the fret board and use them. Heres how:
E|--------12h15p12----------12h15p12-------------------------------------
B|-----13----------13----13----------13----------------------------------
G|--12----------------12----------------12-------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a C major, we have a G, then a C, then an E followed by a G. This exact shape can be played anywhere. How do you find the arpeggio? Find the root note on the B string. So heres:
D major
E|--------14h17p14----------14h17p14-------------------------------------
B|-----15----------15----15----------------------------------------------
G|--14----------------14-------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A major
E|-------9h12p9---------9h12p9-------------------------------------------
B|----10--------10---10--------------------------------------------------
G|--9--------------9-----------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E major
E|--------16h19p16----------16h19p16-------------------------------------
B|-----17----------17----17----------------------------------------------
G|--16----------------16-------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
This simply shape works perfectly anywhere. What about minor arepggios? They are a bit more tricky but not too far off this style:
A minor
E|--------12h17p12----------12h17p12-------------------------------------
B|-----13----------13----13----------------------------------------------
G|--14----------------14-------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
As you can see, the root will be on the G string this time now, but the end note will be the same as the root:
C minor
E|-------15h20p15----------15h20p15--------------------------------------
B|----16----------16----16----------16-----------------------------------
G|-17----------------17----------------17--------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

D minor
E|--------17h22p17----------17h22p17-------------------------------------
B|-----18----------18----18----------18----------------------------------
G|--19----------------19----------------19-------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

F minor
E|-------8h13p8--------8h13p8--------------------------------------------
B|-----10-------10---10-------10-----------------------------------------
G|--10------------10------------10---------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
As you can see, a slight different shape but finding it now should be easy. 5 string sweeps and sweep taps: The 5 string versions of these aren't too difficult and the way to find them is just as easy:
C major
E|--------------12h15p12----------------------12h15p12-------------------
B|-----------13----------13----------------13----------------------------
G|--------12----------------12----------12-------------------------------
D|-----14----------------------14----14----------------------------------
A|--15----------------------------15-------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
This time the root is not only on the B string but the initial A string note, here are some more:
D major
E|--------------14h17p14----------------------14h17p14-------------------
B|-----------15----------15----------------15----------------------------
G|--------14----------------14----------14-------------------------------
D|-----16----------------------16----16----------------------------------
A|--17----------------------------17-------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E major
E|--------------16h19p16-----------------------16h19p16------------------
B|-----------17----------17-----------------17---------------------------
G|--------16-----------------16----------16------------------------------
D|-----18-----------------------18----18---------------------------------
A|--19-----------------------------19------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A major
E|-------------9h12p9--------------------9h12p9--------------------------
B|----------10--------10--------------10---------------------------------
G|--------9--------------9----------9------------------------------------
D|-----11------------------11----11--------------------------------------
A|--12------------------------12-----------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Now for the minor shapes, the same applies with the 3 string versions, the initial note will be the root:
C minor
E|-----------------15h20p15----------------------------15h20p15----------
B|--------------16----------16----------------------16-------------------
G|-----------17----------------17----------------17----------------------
D|--------17----------------------17----------17-------------------------
A|--15h18----------------------------15h18p15----------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

D minor
E|-----------------17h22p17----------------------------17h22p17----------
B|--------------18----------18----------------------18-------------------
G|-----------19----------------19----------------19----------------------
D|--------19----------------------19----------19-------------------------
A|--17h20----------------------------17h20p17----------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

F minor
E|----------------8h13p8--------------------------8h13p8-----------------
B|-------------10--------10--------------------10------------------------
G|----------10--------------10--------------10---------------------------
D|-------10--------------------10--------10------------------------------
A|--8h12--------------------------8h12p8---------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
That last one will be especailly tricky, the finger rollling is tricky, using your 3rd finger will be the best option. You'l need to place the very tip of your finger on the D string as you sweep, then roll your finger down so the flesh of your finger gradualy spreads down the 3 strings. As for the sweep tapping, the main key is to ready your middle finger and move your picking hand slightly closer to your fretting hand. Then as you hammer-on the E string note, move your hand over and tap the string.
C major
E|--------------12h15h20p15p12-------------------------------------------
B|-----------13----------------13----------------------------------------
G|--------12----------------------12-------------------------------------
D|-----14----------------------------14----------------------------------
A|--15----------------------------------15-------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
                       T
E major
E|--------------16h19h24p19p16-------------------------------------------
B|-----------17----------------17----------------------------------------
G|--------16----------------------16-------------------------------------
D|-----18----------------------------18----------------------------------
A|--19----------------------------------19-------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
                       T
As you can see, the tapped note is always the root note. One of the main issues here will be getting your picking hand ready to sweep up the strings again, but if you just focus on getting the downward sweep and tap nailed slowly, youl be fine.

String Skipping

String skipping basically means playing a sequence on a string, then changing to a new one thats 2 strings away, so your skipping a string. Players like paul Giblert use licks like these a lot. Here are a few scale string skips:
A minor
E|------------------------------------------5h9p5-----5h9----------------
B|--------------------------6h8-----6h8----------------------------------
G|------5h7p5-----5h7p5-----------------7h9-------7h9--------------------
D|----------------------7h9-----7h9--------------------------------------
A|--5h7-------5h7--------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

C Phrygian
E|------------------------------------------8h11p8-----------------------
B|------------10h11p10----------------10h11------------------------------
G|-------8h10--------------------------------------10p8------------------
D|---------------------10p8------8h10------------------------------------
A|--8h10------------------------------------------------8h10p8-----------
E|--------------------------9h11-----------------------------------------

E Dorian
E|--------------------------0h2--------------------02p0------------------
B|----------2h3----------------3p2---------3p2---------------------------
G|----------------------2h4--------4p2---------2h4-----------------------
D|------0h4-----4p0------------------------------------------------------
A|------------------2h4----------------4p2-------------------------------
E|--0h2-------------------------------------------------0h2--------------
All I've done here is chosen a few notes at random from a few scales. Next we'll do a couple of arpeggios:
G major 7th
E|--------------10h14p10-------------------10h14p10----------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|--------11h12----------12p11-------12p11----------12p11----------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|--10h14----------------------10h14----------------------10h14----------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

C major
E|-----------7h10p7--------------7h10p7----------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|-------7h9--------9p7------7h9--------9p7------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|--7h10----------------7h10-----------------10p7------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A minor
E|----------5h8p5-------------5h8p5--------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|------6h9-------9p6-----6h9-------9p6----------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|--5h9---------------5h9---------------5h9------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a series of arpeggios played melodicaly, I used the same example in my tapping lesson, but the same can apply here. Like sweep picking, you must let go off the strings exactly after youve played them, you can also keep your picking hand's palm close to the bridge to mute those annoying lower strings that always ring out.

Using These Techniques Musically

Ok heres a few licks for you to try out. First a neo-classical lick:
E|--------------------------------12----12h15----------------17-15-13----
B|-----12-15-12----12-16-12----13----13-------13----12-14-16----------17-
G|--13----------13----------14-------------------11----------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|--------------------------------------------------19-17-15-------------
B|--15-13----------------16----------------19-17-15----------17-15-------
G|--------17-15-14----17----17-19-17----19------------------------10h13--
D|-----------------16----------------18----------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----10h13p10----------13-11-10-------------------13h19p13-------13-17-
B|--12----------12----------------13-11-10-------15-------------15-------
G|-----------------10h13-------------------13h16-------------16----------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Next is a sweep picking lick:

E|--------------16h19p16-------------------------10h14p10----------------
B|-----------17----------17-------------------12----------12-------------
G|--------16----------------16-------------11----------------11----------
D|-----18----------------------18-------12----------------------12-------
A|--19----------------------------19/14----------------------------14/17-
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----------14h17p14------------------------9h12p9----------------------
B|--------15----------15------------------10--------10-------------------
G|-----14----------------14-------------9--------------9-------------12--
D|--16----------------------16-------11------------------11-------14-----
A|-----------------------------17/12------------------------12/15--------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----12h15p12----------------------7h10p7----------------------14b(17)-
B|--13----------13-----------------8--------8-----------------15---------
G|-----------------12------------7------------7------------14------------
D|--------------------14-------9----------------9-------16---------------
A|-----------------------15/10--------------------10/17------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Now the two combined! :

E|-----------------10h15p10-------------------------------15h20p15-------
B|--------------11----------11-------------------------16----------16----
G|-----------12----------------12-------------------17----------------17-
D|--------12----------------------12-------------17----------------------
A|--10h13----------------------------10h13/15h18-------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-------------------------8h13p8------------------------------13h17p13--
B|----------------------10--------10------------------------15-----------
G|-------------------10--------------10------------------15--------------
D|--17------------10--------------------10------------15-----------------
A|-----15h18/8h12--------------------------8h12/13h17--------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|----------------------------6h11p6------------------------11h15--------
B|--15----------------------8--------8-------------------12-------12-----
G|-----15-----------------8------------8--------------11-------------11--
D|--------15------------8----------------8---------12--------------------
A|-----------13h17/6h10--------------------6h10/13-----------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----12h15p-------------------------14h17h20p17p14---------------------
B|--12--------12-------------------15----------------15------------------
G|---------------13-------------14----------------------14-------------12
D|------------------14-------16----------------------------16-------14---
A|---------------------15/17----------------------------------17/15------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|----12----------------13h19p13----13h16----------14b(17)--------------
B|-13----13----------15----------15-------15----15-----------------------
G|----------12/13h16-------------------------14--------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Hope this helps.

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30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    RezGuitar
    everytime i sweep i guess when i move my fingers i pull off the string so while im sweeping im also playing the open strings and get a buzzing sound
    raise_hell30
    David Blackbird, You don't change the Harmonic Minor scale depending on rather it is ascending or descending. It is only the Melodic Minor. also, scince it is identical to a natural minor with a raised 7th, you would not lower the 6th... it would be the 7th.
    RrTtGg
    Just to let you know, some of the "Minor" sweeps or arpeggios were actually Major. Next time make sure your theory is correct, but nice article.
    ian3fingers
    oh no i came to this lesson too quickly! Now where was I? Ah yes "She'll be coming round the mountain...."
    Joe310707
    Try playing really lightly and softly ,on distortion its hard to stop unwanted sound noise with sweeps ,if anything keep your palm close to the strings and carefully mute to get the noise to away ,its all about synchronisation ,if your pick and hand are playing the same speed you wont get that annoying noise.
    Portugeezer31
    ermm on the sweep pickingg section.. everytime i take my finger of the string i keep pullling of to an open string. how do i stop that?
    Joe310707
    Yeah index and ring are preferred ,try and use them cuz it helps you in later licks ,but whatevers comfortable for you.Thanks
    Loldemonwar
    hey man, i was wondering, in the string skipping section, and i suppose to be using all my fingers for that, or just go switching around with whatever i want, probably my index and ring. thanks a lot, sick lesson
    Joe310707
    Yeah id say so ,certainly sounds like some harmonic minor scales in there.
    Markus93
    would "the curse of castle dragon" by paul gilbert be neo-classical? at about 50 seconds
    3dw1n
    Hey man Great lesson it's very useful for me and anyone !!!, i was seeing your last lesson and it was great too!!! keep going !!!!!
    David Blackbird
    Your theory is questionable.
    The harmonic minor is quite simple, yet the melodic minor is a strange scale because you play it normal ascending, but lower the 6th descending, so it convertes back to the harmonic minor.
    According to my Orchestra director, you lower the 6th and 7th on the way down, changing the Melodic Minor into the Natural Minor. Also, you lower the 6th of the Harmonic Minor when descending, again changing it to the Natural Minor.
    These are simply a triad but with a minor second and minor (diminished) third.
    Triads aren't named by the number notes in the chord, they're named by the number in the scale i.e. it's not 'root-second-third' it's 'root-third-fifth' b/c the notes are the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale. Apart from needing to review your theory homework, this is a fairly good lesson, and these exercises will be useful to anyone.
    thefreak013
    TheWannabe wrote: niftycakedude wrote: These techniques can all be incoorporated into death metaltechniques. Die in a fire.
    Thats not very nice
    ProgFanDave
    Thinking he means tremelo picking on my end. Tremelo picking is just simply fast alternate picking on the same position, acdc_rocks. If you know how to alternate pick then you can 'speed pick', as that is the whole point of applying alternate picking to your playing.
    Joe310707
    Thanks a lot guys ,yeah actually i am considering doing vibrato and phrasing in my next lesson so it will include bending. What do you mean a speed pick ,like someone speed picking or a pick for speed lol ?
    TheWannabe
    niftycakedude wrote: These techniques can all be incoorporated into death metaltechniques .
    Die in a fire.
    acdc_rocks-95
    pretty good. can the next one have stuff on bending and releasing strings really fast like in the journey songs "any way you want it" and "don't stop believin'. and does anyone know what a speed pick looks like? thanks
    Joe310707
    What do you mean forced/lame ,theres nothing lae about neo-classical or sweep picking ,very tricky techniques.
    niftycakedude
    These techniques can all be incoorporated into death metal, and then it doesn't sound nearly as forced/lame IMO. Necrophagist, Origin and Psycroptic use these techniques.
    Joe310707
    Ahh ,completely forgot about the natural minor ,nice one I see what you mean about the root ,third ,fifth thing ,i dont know why i put i put second and third ,well thanks for your help anyways
    Joe310707
    Your probably not pulling off the string in a sense ,maybe you have too much distortion on your amp or your not muting properly ,remeber keep your fingers from movng too much and keep them close to the strings ,make your palm mute the strings slightly too ,it will probably sound crap at first but keep applying light pressure and synchronise your hands