Sweeping Arpeggios for Beginners

A short lesson including some nice, three string arpeggios to start out with sweep picking.

Ultimate Guitar
Sweep picking is a great technique and definitely something every rock guitarist wants to get under their belt. These arpeggios are a great starting exercise for guitarist wanting to learn to sweep pick.

You want to pick the first three notes of the arpeggios in one smooth downward motion.

Pick the highest note of the arpeggio with an upstroke, and pull off to the next note, and continue your upwards picking motion to the last note on the B string.

Repeat each arpeggio at least 2 times.

First up is a G major arpeggio. Use fingers 1, 2, and 4 for this arpeggio.
Next is an A minor arpeggio. Again, use fingers 1, 2 and 4.
The third arpeggio is a B diminished. For this, use fingers 1, 3 and 4.
Finally, finish on a C major arpeggio. Using fingers 1, 2 and 4.
Practice playing all of these arpeggios together as a sequence.

A tiny bit of theory (kind of) and playing these arpeggios in different keys.

These arpeggios are made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of their respective scales, which are, in this case, G major, A minor, B diminished, and C major. These shapes can be moved anywhere up and down the neck, they will remain either a major, minor or diminished arpeggio, only in a different key. Whichever note you play on the B string, is the key in which the arpeggio is in. For example, if you were to move the first shape, major, so that you're playing the fret 5, an E, on the B string, you would be playing an E major arpeggio.

Learning the notes of the fretboard, and the notes in the different keys, can make playing and finding arpeggios a lot easier.

The next level:

To take this sweeping exercise to the next level, you can add in the D string. To do this you'd play the 3rd note of the scale on the D string. Which for these particular exercises would be B, C, D, and E.

That concludes this lesson. Remember to start slow, and make sure you're playing the notes cleanly! A metronome is in-valuable with these types of exercises also.

Good luck!

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Clear, simple & to the point - nicely done sir! I look forward to your next topic.
    "These arpeggios are made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of their respective scales" Or...you could've just said that the arpeggios are framed in the key of A minor or C major. Damn, guitar players explaining music theory is always a disappointing thing to see.
    Dom Hawthorn
    Sure, I could have said that, but then the reader might not understand what that actually means. It's a lesson for beginners. By explaining how the arpeggios are made up and with what notes, it allows them to take that knowledge and apply it to different keys. For example, one might think 'I like this A minor arpeggio, but I want to play it in D minor to play over this backing track I have in D minor.. How do I do that? Oh I see! I just take the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the D minor scale! OR I can just move this shape up to the D note on the B string. Great!' By saying 'These arpeggios are framed in the key of A minor' etc ... it leaves the reader asking questions.. Such as 'What notes am I actually playing?' or 'How do I apply this to other keys?' or 'How do I frame these arpeggios in the key of E Minor instead?' etc.. Thanks for the input though, and I'll think about that kind of thing in the future if I write anymore lessons.
    Dom, you will encounter people on here that just want to see you BURN. However, DON'T STOP WRITING! I'm not saying that miguel-m said anything mean and he does have some awesome lessons BTW UG is FILLED with trolls but I encourage you to do what you love... play and write lessons. Keep it up!!!
    I truly believe that any concept can be made easy to understand if explained using the right terms. You could have organized the arpeggios in the following manner: Bdim Amin Gmaj (or G7) and Cmaj. That'd be a ii vi V I turnaround in the key of C major. It'd give the reader a context to practice the arpeggios. Do continue to post your lessons. I'm not saying your lesson was bad, it's just that I wish you could have framed the arpeggios within a musical context. As they are, they're just isolated arpeggio shapes.
    *Bdim is vii dim in C Maj. I see what you mean about applying a musical context... That's a great suggestion, Miguel!
    I think the way he explained arpeggios is just fine even to an advanced player. The quote you mentioned is also true and makes perfect sense to me. Music theory, especially on here, is very hard to explain because you have tons of guitarists who think they know what they are talking about arguing every single point. I'm not saying that is you but I like to avoid theory lol I do like your lessons miguel!!!
    While this wasn't the most comprehensive lesson I'll give you props for explaining some theory behind this. Am I the only one who uses all four fingers for a minor arpeggio? If we take a five string shape, I'd use index and pinky on the first string, ring on the second, middle on the third, ring on the fourth again and pinky on the fifth. I see very few people do it like this even though I find it much more efficient.
    Dom Hawthorn
    Hey, thanks I tried not to go into too much detail with the lesson as it was really meant for a starting point for beginners to sweep picking, and didn't want to make it seem overwhelming. It's where I started with the technique and I found it a very good place to start. I normally use my first three fingers for this minor shape as I find it frees up my other fingers a bit more for other things I might do during soloing. I think this is similar to what menjy said, as if I were playing a piece that was strictly sweeping only I might use four fingers. Obviously other people may find different fingerings easier, this is just how I prefer really haha.
    Depends on the context, if i'm doing sweeping while soloing i use 3 fingers, but if my solo is hardly anything but sweeping, yes, i use 4 fingers to. Makes it easier to shift positions.