Sweep Like Becker

In this lesson I'm gonna show you the exact positions Jason used in order to play arpeggios. I believe these shapes are the best.

14
I assume the reader knows about sweep picking, as I focus mostly on the positions in this lesson, and not on just on the technique itself. First of all, I apologize if the title misleads, because there is no such lesson that will make you play like becker. In this lesson I will show you the positions he used in his sweep picking. By applying these shapes, you can advance very fast in sweeping, and maybe some of you will manage to pull-off serrana. SIDE NOTE: I`ll be focusing on 5&6 strings shapes, as 3&4 strings shapes can be derived from the big shapes. Remember those are shapes, meaning you can move them around the neck! Just memorize them and you`ll be fine.

The Major Shapes

There are 3 basic shapes for pulling off major arpeggios. I`ll show them in the key of A.
SHAPE 1
E||----------------9h-12p-9---------------|
B||-------------10----------10------------|
G||-----------9----------------9----------|
D||--------11--------------------11-------|
A||--7h-12--------------------------12p-7-|
E||---------------------------------------|
We have here a nice A major. It may be strange that we don't start the arpeggio with the root, but we can do anything we want. This only issue here is the strech on the A string, but after a while it would become easy. Make sure you use hammer-ons and pull-offs where noted, as you are sweeping, all down, then all up.
SHAPE 2 (GOOD)
E||------------------12h-17p-12-----------------|
B||---------------14------------14--------------|
G||------------14------------------14-----------|
D||-----11h-14------------------------14p-11----|
A||--12--------------------------------------12-|
E||---------------------------------------------|
This one is a bad boy! The problem is of course barring 3 different strings on same fret, and making sure that they wont ring out together. The technique used here is "rolling", you use your third finger, and kinda roll it with the direction you pick. your target is to make sure every note is sound seperatly. A note about this shape: I've seen another shape for this thing, which is just BAD:
SHAPE 2 (BAD)
E||------------------12h-17p-12-----------------|
B||---------------14------------14--------------|
G||------------14------------------14-----------|
D||---------14------------------------14--------|
A||--12h-16------------------------------16p--12|
E||---------------------------------------------|
There are some reasons I hate this shape: 1)it's not comfortable! 2)it's harder, and we want it nice and simple. 3)I quote jason: "you get a bonus lick" (by using Shape 2(good)) What he meant:
E||---------------------------------------------------|
B||---------------------------------------------------|
G||------------14--------12-----------14--------12----|
D||-----11h-14----14p-11-------11h-14----14p-11-------|
A||--12---------------------12------------------------|
E||---------------------------------------------------|
That's something you can't play if you use the bad shape, while it's easy to pull off on the good one. Side note: "throw in a 7th"
SHAPE 3:
E||---------------------17h-21p-17--------------------|
B||------------------17------------17-----------------|
G||---------------18------------------18--------------|
D||------------19------------------------19-----------|
A||-----16h-19------------------------------19p-16----|
E||--17--------------------------------------------17-|
Nothing special about this guy, aside the fact it covers all strings. Same deal like with shape 2, use the shape that has one note on the lowest string, and have two notes on the next one (and hammer-on them). Conclusions: 1)if difference between 2 notes on the lowest string is exactly 5 frets or more, play it as it is (see SHAPE 1) 2)otherwise play like Shape 2/3 3)make sure to have two notes on the highest string, so you could get a "push", the ability to execute the arpeggio fast without getting stuck.

Minor Shapes

Basically just like major, just flatten the 3rd half a tone. Here are the shapes anyway:
SHAPE 1
E||----------------8h-12p-8---------------|
B||-------------10----------10------------|
G||-----------9----------------9----------|
D||--------10--------------------10-------|
A||--7h-12--------------------------12p-7-|
E||---------------------------------------|
SHAPE 2
E||------------------12h-17p-12-----------------|
B||---------------13------------13--------------|
G||------------14------------------14-----------|
D||-----10h-14------------------------14p-10----|
A||--12--------------------------------------12-|
E||---------------------------------------------|
SHAPE 3
E||---------------------17h-20p-17--------------------|
B||------------------17------------17-----------------|
G||---------------17------------------17--------------|
D||------------19------------------------19-----------|
A||-----15h-19------------------------------19p-15----|
E||--17--------------------------------------------17-|
And Finally, Some Actual Music To Practice: The following is from the song go-off!, by the band cacophony. This part has 2 guitars harmonized, I`ll just put one of them:
---------------------15h-19S---17p-14--------------------
------------------15------------------15-----------------
---------------16------------------------14--------------
------------17------------------------------16-----------
-----14h-17------------------------------------17p-12----
--15--------------------------------------------------14-

---------------------12h-15S----14p-10-------------------
------------------12------------------12-----------------
---------------12------------------------11--------------
------------14------------------------------12-----------
-----10h-14------------------------------------14p-9-----
--12-------------------------------------------------10--

----------------------8h-12S----10p--7-------------------
------------------8--------------------8-----------------
----------------9-------------------------7--------------
------------10-------------------------------9-----------
------7h-10------------------------------------10p-5-----
--8---------------------------------------------------7--

----------------------8h-12S---14p--10-------------------
------------------8--------------------10-----------------
----------------9-------------------------11--------------
------------10-------------------------------12-----------
------7h-10------------------------------------12p-9------
--8---------------------------------------------------10--
Check out the gp file for this lesson here. Well, that concludes our lesson, next time around I`ll look into diminished shapes, augmented (black cat anyone?), and some exotic stuff. Happy sweeping!

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    snakeblob
    Awesome lesson. hmm i taught my self the "bad" position first so i can play that better then the "good" one but Ive really enjoyed this because ive learned new postitions to include in my own playing. Thanks
    Azeteck
    Zanon wrote: Jeradmang wrote: sorry to act like a hater...this lesson was cool...i just think the go off song was lame...scarified woulda been a cooler example Well scarified hasn't got sweep picked arpeggios in it. It's all string skipping...
    Besides, if it was Scarified, the lesson would be "Skip Like Paul" Anyways, AWESOME LESSON
    Zanon
    Jeradmang wrote: sorry to act like a hater...this lesson was cool...i just think the go off song was lame...scarified woulda been a cooler example
    Well scarified hasn't got sweep picked arpeggios in it. It's all string skipping...
    panterafever
    Any body on here will agree with this isnt it a shame that some of the the best guitarist only stay on earth for a little while... Randy Roads, Dimebag Darrell, Jimi Hendrix, and a lot more... but then Becker was going so big in a little time and then he.. gets diagnosed how sad.. but nothing can stop him.. He had determination right from the start,and it never left him.
    Jeradmang
    sorry to act like a hater...this lesson was cool...i just think the go off song was lame...scarified woulda been a cooler example
    Jeradmang
    This song, the intro sounds like complete crap. It picks up but it just seems way over done...the "go-off!" song that is...wow that a garbage ass song really
    becker89
    yeah its absolutly a matter of opinion. i tried playing both ways,and i find myself playing more clear and smoother in the "good" position. also this is the fingering becker used,i looked in most of his videos,he plays these shapes. so i`m like "if thats how becker played, thats how i`ll play!" hehe ;]
    BSM123456789
    great lesson, but one thing, the second arpeggio "good" version is alot harder than the "bad" one because as you pick downwards in the "good" one you have to start, slow down, and then continue, where as in the "bad" one you start slow, and then speed up i know its a matter of opinion, but i just thought that the "good" one just seemed like more work for me
    becker89
    he was struck with ALS,back in 91`. lost control over his entire body, he`s paralayzed everywhere,except in his eyes.(although he said he can move some of his left hand)
    Zep_shizzle
    lol this is pretty much just a sum up a part where he shows most of these on hot licks lol. its good tho.
    Junkanoova
    Jason Becker is my hero, and should have everyone's respect, imagine that you could never play a guitar again, especially after you poured your entire life into it. He carried on even in the face of ALS and kept playing the Caprices until he couldn't pick up his guitar any more. Then instead of giving in, he did what I like to think of as ascending to something greater. He began to compose music, and he and his father developed a system to communicate with his eyes. That will never stop to amaze me, ever...
    Joe310707
    Ahh see what you mean if ya wanna make extra licks with them ,its good to have knowledge of them though. Yup he certainly is good ,Michael Angelos one of my fav though for that
    becker89
    i consider some shapes as bad,because i think they just limit your playing. thats why i gave an example of the "bonus lick" you get by using that shape. of course that one could play other shapes just fine, its just my own opinion. i`m kinda subjective on that,mainly because becker used them and i consider him a master of sweeping.
    Joe310707
    Nice lesson man ,i dont think you should say certain shapes are *bad* if there just harder ,but still its good to see different shaped arpeggios and i like the excersise at the end ,very nice. Very good stuff
    becker89
    the hidden purpose of these lessons is to expose people to jason becker (and cacophony with marty). he is so underrated it drives me nuts. i consider him the best guitar player ever, he was a prodigy,being able to play like that in a very young age. of course,as a composer he is a modern mozart! hope my lessons so far got some people into him.
    jsbgs
    The "good" position shoud be 1st and 3rd finger at the hammer on or it is good to use 1st and 4th? Because the minor arpeggio when played on the first frets it is difficult to stretch my fingers so much. What Jason used to do?