Sweep Picking

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: guitar techniques

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Sweep Picking
To start things off I'm going to do a lesson on a technique that's becoming very popular as of late and that people on UG seem to talk about frequently: sweep picking. The idea behind sweep picking is that you're going to play notes, one after another, that are on strings next to each other, rather than playing notes on the same string. It's the same idea as strumming a chord, except with pick sweeping you want the individual notes to stand out rather than playing them all at the same time. This allows you to play notes one after another much faster than if we were using other techniques such as alternate picking. The first exercise we'll do will be an arpeggio in D minor (v = downstroke ^ = upstroke):
   v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v ^ ^ ^
E|-----5-3---------1-0------
B|---6-----5-----3-----1----
G|-7---------5-3---------0--
D|--------------------------
A|--------------------------
E|--------------------------
The first set of 3 notes are played strumming down, one after another. The next step are played in up strokes. When you play each note, instead of lifting the pick up after plucking, let it fall onto the next string. You're "sweeping" the strings. The next exercise is almost identical except we're adding another string.
   v v v v ^ ^ ^ ^ v v v v ^ ^ ^ ^
E|-------5-3-------------1-0--------
B|-----6-----5---------3-----1------
G|---7---------5-----3---------0----
D|-7-------------5-3-------------2--
A|----------------------------------
E|----------------------------------
We can then add a 5th string to this riff if we want.
   v v v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v v v ^ ^ ^   
E|---------5---------------3---------------1---------------0-------
B|-------6---6-----------5---5-----------3---3-----------1---1-----
G|-----7-------7-------5-------5-------3-------3-------0-------0---
D|---7-----------7---5-----------5---3-----------3---2-----------2-
A|-5---------------3---------------1---------------3---------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------
The possibilities are endless. You can use any notes, any arpeggios. We can even add hammer ons and pull offs if we want.
   v v   v ^ ^   ^ v v   v ^     ^ ^
E|-------5-3-------------1-0h1p0------
B|---5h6-----3h5-----1h3---------1----
G|-7-------------5-3---------------0--
D|------------------------------------
A|------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------
That concludes this week's lesson. I hope people find this lesson to be useful. I'd appreciate any input, corrections, suggestions, critiques etc. - Garett Spencley (http://www.mp3.com/garett_spencley)
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