Sweep Picking And Tapping Lesson

This lesson explains the combination of the Sweep Picking and the Tapping Techniques. A basic knowledge of Sweep picking technique and Tapping technique are required for this lesson to be effective.

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For this lesson we will be looking at sweep-picking-and-tapping licks. This is great for extended arpeggios and fast shredding. Some knowledge in sweep picking and tapping is assumed for this lesson. This is a very advanced technique and is great for spicing up a solo, but once you understand the concept of the technique it becomes very simple to learn. First, we must look at sweep-picking. We will be using a minor arpeggio in the key of Dm (or FMaj). The tablature is for a Standard D-Tuning. That is a personal preference of mine, however you can adjust it to standard E tuning by adding two(2) to the bottom string(Low D). Basic Dm Arp (sweep):
e|------------------13h17p13---------------------------|
B|----------------15--------15-------------------------|
G|--------------14------------14-----------------------|
D|------------15----------------15---------------------|
A|------12h17---------------------17p12----------------|
D|-12h15-------------------------------15p12-----------|
   ^(upstroke)             v(downstroke)
OK. This is the basic minor arpeggio we will be using. Now that we have addressed sweep-picking, it is time to address the tapping. We are still in the key of Dm. This is a simple tapping arpeggio in the key of Dm. Basic Dm Arp (tapping 1):
e|-10h13s17-h22p-17p13s10------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   R        L   R   (R=Right Hand L=Left Hand)
An alternate way to do this would be to use multiple finger tapping. For the left hand, remember that: P=thumb I=first finger M=middle finger A=ring finger s=pinky Basic Dm Arp (tapping 2):
e|-10h13-h17h22p17p-13p10------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   R      LI LS    R
Master both methods before moving on. (Tip: The metronome is your friend. Learning advanced techniques is pointless if your sense of time is garbage.) After mastering the sweep and the tap it is much easier to combine the two into an awesome sounding lick. The first thing you must do is have your picking hand ready to sweep and ready to tap. If you are using a pick, (which I recommend) I suggest that you hold the pick between your first finger and your thumb and extend your middle finger. An alternate approach you could try is holding the pick between your thumb and middle finger and extending your first finger. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each position and choose whatever is more comfortable for you. This lick is simple and does not rely greatly on the tap; however, this is a great place to start if you are new to this technique. Remember, this is in the key of Dm. Dm Arp (sweep and tap)
e|-------------13h17--h22p--17p13----------------------|
B|----------15--------------------15-------------------|
G|-------14--------------------------14----------------|
D|----15--------------------------------15-------------|
A|-17--------------------------------------17----------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   ^R                  L    vR
Be sure to be mindful of your upstrokes and downstrokes to make sure that you are indeed sweep-picking and not just picking each note. This shape is just like the minor one above, except it is major. We are still in the key of Dm but the shape itself is a CMaj. CMaj Arp (sweep and tap):
e|-------------12h15--h20p---15p12---------------------|
B|----------13---------------------13------------------|
G|-------12---------------------------12---------------|
D|----14---------------------------------14------------|
A|-15---------------------------------------15---------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   ^R                  L     vR
With these two shapes alone you can create millions of lead lines and solos. The basic major/minor shapes can be transposed all over the fretboard and used over and over again in any key. This next shape is a bit harder. It sweeps up as a Dm and concludes as a CMaj arpeggio Dm-CMaj Arp:
   Dm                                CMaj
e|------------------13h17-h22p-17p13s12------------------|
B|---------------15---------------------13---------------|
G|-------------14-------------------------12-------------|
D|-----------15-----------------------------14-----------|
A|------12h17---------------------------------15p12------|
D|-12h15-------------------------------------------12p10-|
   ^R                      L   vR
This next shape utilizes more of the left hand technique. It utilizes a left hand slide. Try this with the fingers indicated below.
e|-------------13h17-h22p---17-------------------------|
B|-----------15---------------18-----------------------|
G|-------h14--------------------19---------------------|
D|-h12h15----------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   LA     LM ^R       LM    vR
This shape is identical to the last one but with different fingering. Remember to experiment with all approaches and choose the one that you find most comfortable.
e|-------------13h17-h22p---17-------------------------|
B|-----------15---------------18-----------------------|
G|-------h14--------------------19---------------------|
D|-h12h15----------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   LM  Ls LA ^R       LM    vR
This one uses the left hand to transition from one shape to another. The chords are shown above the diagram. Be sure to take it slow and make sure that your hands are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there.
   Dm               Bb         C             Dm
e|-----10h13-h17h22s18p13p-6-----8h12-h15h20s22p17-----|
B|---10---------------------6---8-----------------18---|
G|-10------------------------7s9--------------------19-|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
   ^R         L             vR ^R      L        vR      
Remember to practice these shapes with a metronome once you get them down so that your timing will be on when you put this in your lead playing. Also, remember that these are just examples so that you get the idea of how the technique works and some ideas of how to move around and get some cool sounds with your guitar. You can take these ideas and step it up to get a real unique kind of sound, too. For instance, why stick to just arpeggios? Switch it up and try some pentatonic sweep patterns coupled with octave tapping. The possibilities are endless so don't just stop at the contents of this lesson; keep going and try your own shapes and styles.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    M15T3RJACK
    Ah... Mistake. My bad. I will do better next time. You are right. What I meant to say was Standard Drop-D Tuning.
    krypticguitar87
    The only problem I have here is a basic one and I understand that this is not a beginer lesson so those who are looking at this lesson should know. anyway, you say your playing in D Standard but you actually use Drop D. D Standard is D G C F A D (essentialy just standard droped a full step), or at least thats how the people I jam with typically refeer to it.
    M15T3RJACK
    The lesson was supposed to focus more on the combination of the techniques rather than just focusing on one or the other. It wasn't intended as a sweep lesson or a tapping lesson. And yeah, it is kinda awkward but it gets easier with time.
    shadowmaster036
    Another sweep lesson? Like we need another one. Although the idea of tapping with more than just your right pointer is kind of cool, it seems like it would be pretty awkward.