Shred Guitar Speed Picking And Sweep Picking

This is a lesson on how to gain better speed and sweep picking ability.

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Have you ever heard a crazy song by Yngwie or anybody like that and went, I wonder how they do that? Well, this lesson will hopefully help you learn how to better play shred guitar, and you may begin to understand how they do there stuff. I thought about that alot, and have broken down shred guitar into basically two guitar techniques you need to master, speed picking and sweep picking. I'll start off the lesson talking about speed picking.

Speed Picking

Speed picking is a major component to shred guitar. Most shred songs are at an extremly fast bpm, so you must have great speed picking skill to play the songs. I have worked on it for a while and came up with some tricks on how to pick faster.

1.Warm up your wrists and fingers before playing.
2.Limit your arms movement so it doesn't move above the elbow.
3.Play with an open hand.
4.Find a way of holding the pick that you can play fast comfortably with. I like to hold the pick at about a 45 degree angle so the pick's thin side is facing me, it allows the pick to move across the strings faster.

Here are some riffs that I use to practice speed picking, and they sound awesome at the same time.

Riff 1

This has a very Michael Angelo Batio feel to me. Basically, all you need to do for this riff is make sure you use alternate picking (up-down) and pick FAST.

e|-12-14-15-14-12-14-17-14-12-14-15-14-12-14-17-14-12-14-15-14-12------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------15-14-12-14-|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|----12-14-15-14-12----------------12-14-15-14-12-14-17-14-12-14-15-14-12-14|
B|-15----------------15-14-12-14-15------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|-17-14-12-14-15-14-12----------------12-14-15-14-12------------------------|
B|----------------------15-14-12-14-15----------------15-14-12ZYABLA~HUYABLA~------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Riff 2

This is one of my favorite ways to ascend on the fretboard. Its based around pentatonic scales. Play FAST.

e|17-15-12-------15-12-10----------------------------------------------------|
B|---------15-12----------12-10-14-12-10-------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------12-10-14-12-10----------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------12-10-14-12-10-------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------12-10-|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-14-12-10----------------10------------------------------------------------|
E|----------12-10-14-12-10----10/12ZYABLA~HUYABLA~---------------------------------------|


Riff 3

This is a riff played a little slower, but just sounds AWESOME.

e|----8-12----8-12----8-12----8-12---6-10------------------------------------|
B|-10------10------10------10------8-----------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is the second most important part of shred guitar. Basically, all it is is arpeggios played real fast. I also analyzed this and came up with the following tips.

1.I grip the pick loosely for sweep picking, it makes it faster.
2.Use an oval-like motion when picking, go up with a slight angle, and come down with the same and, but flipped, making almost an invisible oval shape.
3.Lastly, practice SLOW at first. Sweep Picking takes a long time to master.

So, here are some of my favorite sweeps. Play these, and my only advice is the oval motion and switch from up to down stroke at the second note on the top of the arpeggio. The following 3 sweeps are my favorites. Practice slow, then fast.
Sweep One
e|----------------12-17p12---------------------------12-17p12----------------|
B|-------------13----------13---------------------13---------13--------------|
G|----------14----------------14---------------14--------------14------------|
D|-------14---------------------14----------14-------------------14----------|
A|-12h15---------------------------15-12h15------------------------15--------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Sweep 2
e|----------------9-12p9-----------------9-12p9------------------------------|
B|-------------10--------10------------10------10----------------------------|
G|-----------9-------------9----------9----------9---------------------------|
D|--------10----------------10------10------------10-------------------------|
A|-----11---------------------11--11----------------11-----------------------|
E|--12--------------------------12--------------------12---------------------|

Sweep 3
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------17-------------15--------------13-----------------------------------|
G|-----16--16---------14--14----------12--12---------------------------------|
D|---17------17-----15------15------13------13-------------------------------|
A|-19----------19-17----------17-15-----------15~----------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Work on these until you can play at a fast pace comfortably.

To end this lesson, I am going to leave you with an original piece of mine thats great practice on everything I have tried to teach you hear. I call it No limits.

This will be hard, but if you practice, you can learn to play it with ease, and I bet you will be a much better guitarist after learning how to sweep and speed pick with ease.

Good Luck.
e|---2-3--5p3p2t7p5p3p2t7p5p3p2t7p5p3p2t7p5p3p2------------------------------|
B|--3------------------------------------------3-3/5t9p7p5-------------------|
G|-2--------------------------------------------2---------5------------8h11--|
D|---------------------------------------------------------6-------7h10------|
A|----------------------------------------------------------7---6h9----------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------5h8-------------|

e|-------------------7-10p7---7-10p7---7-10p7---7-10/15p12------12-15p12-----|
B|-10p7-------------8------8-8------8-8------8-8----------13--13--------13---|
G|-----8---------7h9--------9--------9--------9-------------14------------14-|
D|------7-----7h9------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------9p7h9---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|--12-15/17p14------14-17p14------14-17p14------14-17p14/12-----------------|
B|13-----------15--15--------15--15--------15--15-----------13---------------|
G|---------------16------------16------------16---------------14-------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------------14--------14-|
A|----------------------------------------------------------------15-12h15---|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|-----12-17p12--------------------12-15p12--------------------12-17-15-12---|
B|---13--------13----------------13--------13----------------13-----------15-|
G|-14------------14------------14------------14------------14----------------|
D|-----------------14--------14----------------14--------14------------------|
A|-------------------15-12h15--------------------15-12h15--------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|--15-12-10-----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|12--------12-10-14-12-10---------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------12-10-14-12-10-------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------12-10-14-12-10-----------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------12-10-14-12-10---------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------12-10-14-|

e|----------------10-15p10------10-14p10------10-13p10------12p10------10-12-|
B|--------------11--------11--11--------11--11--------11--11-----11--11------|
G|------------12------------12------------12------------12---------12--------|
D|----------12---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|--------12-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|12-10h14-------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|/17p14------14-18p14------14-19p14------14-18p14------14-17p14/12----------|
B|------15--15--------15--15--------15--15--------15--15-----------13--------|
G|--------16------------16------------16------------16---------------14------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------14----|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------15--|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|-----------------------17-19-21-22-22p17--------------------15-19p15-------|
B|------------12-17p15-19-----------------18----------------16--------16-----|
G|----------13------------------------------17------------16------------17---|
D|--------14----------------------------------19--------16----------------17-|
A|------14--------------------------------------17/15h17---------------------|
E|-12h15---------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|------------------12-17p12-------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------13--------13--------------------------17p15------15p13-----|
G|--------------14------------14-------------------15h18-----16---------14---|
D|------------14----------------14------------14h17------------15---------13-|
A|-18-15/12h15--------------------15-----13h16-------------------17----------|
E|----------------------------------12h15------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|------2--------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-15---2--------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---12-0--------------------------------------------------------------------|
Well, I hope this has helped you!

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Sal89
    Good lesson. if u got any more plz post. (also im new 2 UG)
    awesomo41894
    listentometal66 wrote: sweeps i have no problem with.....its the lightning fast alternate picking thats been takin a while
    Yeah, it took me quite a while before I was really good at alternate picking, just keep practicing.
    x_XIcyReverie
    I'm SO going to try this. After I eat a sandwich. Nice lesson though, I know it'll help me. I'm new to guitar and I think turtles play faster than me.
    crazyman12340
    Dude, once you learn a technique, like alternate and sweep picking, the other one becomes a lot harder because you are so used to whichever one you have been practicing. It's just like finger tapping styles. I suggest learning to alternate pick good first; it'll make sweep picking harder to learn in the long run, but there are more songs played with alternate picking styles. Choose whichever you want though, good luck and practice hard!
    listentometal66
    sweeps i have no problem with.....its the lightning fast alternate picking thats been takin a while
    becker009
    this is the one of the worst lessons i've ever seen. not only is sweeping picking one of the easiest and most overrated "advanced" techniques, but you fail to hit some of the more important parts of it, such as: playing them cleanly, finger rolling techniques, sweep shapes, and applications! It is clear that this "lesson" was written by a 16 year old "shredder" that learned sweeping yesterday and wants to show the world how fast he can play them! Nice try, but no cigar.
    crazyman12340
    Hey buddy, most "16 years old shredders" could kick your sorry ass in a guitar battle. How about you stop complaining and make your own lesson if you think this one is so bad.
    ninoprisco
    deffinatley im still learnin and its deffinatley easier
    awesomo41894 wrote: Yeah, maybe, but I found the bigger sweep arpeggios easier to learn.
    RickyThomson
    Nice. Never really thought at taking sweep picking seriously... though i gotta say, this tutorial looks easy to digest compared to some other stuff i've browser over in the past. Will bookmark it for future. Thanks.
    crazyman12340
    IDK what I'm going to do, I can't sweep pick for my life, but i can practically play the finger tapping section in "Fast Solo 1" from One by Metallica with alternate picking; but I still can't play half the shit that i should be able to. I'm told I'm playing A Lot of way harder things but... ugh this is the first actually difficult milestone in guitar I have encountered, and I can play a lot of things that make people stand there with their mouths hanging open
    awesomo41894
    Explorer939 wrote: Awsome lesson,man!!!Thanx a lot!
    No problem man, if u have any more questions u can message me
    munkyman123
    rememberthename wrote: i dont know why but this sweeps are preety hard for me, other sweeps i find really easy.
    yeah i know right. they jsut seem really goofy. im going to consult ye old guitar grimoire lol. nice lesson though
    awesomo41894
    Steiger wrote: Thanks for the information : I am new to sweep picking and have a question for anyone: In the first sweep picking exercise, do you use your middle finger (long one)for both the "14"s when going up and down??
    Well, when I play it I fret the 12 with my index, hit the 15 with my pinkie, the two 14's with my ring finger, the 13 with my middle, the 12 with my index, 17 with my pinkie, and then back down with the same fingering.
    rememberthename
    well, i find the big sweeps easy but when i see a new one i need to practice it alot to make it sound clean(also i dont havemy electric guitar with me right now, im practicing on my steel string acoustic that makes it slightly harder)
    Nasirules317
    thanks man, this helped out a lot, im gonna practice these whenever i play, which is usually every day
    madguitrist
    nice lesson, but you start out sweep picking with 6 string arrpegios, anyone who's just starting with sweep picking will usually have to start with 3 or even 2 strings, but otherwise it was good.
    awesomo41894
    I mean don't go straight down with the pick, go in a motion where the pick is almost drawing an oval on the guitar strings.
    awesomo41894
    Nasirules317 wrote: the sweeping part helped me a lot i mean, i can play fast as hell already haha
    Glad it helped you.
    niftycakedude
    Economy picking is key as well. It is sweep picking across 2 strings, then picking normally(alternate). It combines sweep picking with alternate/speed/whathaveyou picking.
    Joe310707
    Some nice licks in here ,love the monster lick at the end ,very challenging ,great stuff
    Steiger
    Thanks for the information : I am new to sweep picking and have a question for anyone: In the first sweep picking exercise, do you use your middle finger (long one)for both the "14"s when going up and down??
    sk8punk49
    sorry, no originality for the last lesson name. "no limits" clearly stolen from Michael Angelo Batio "no boundaries" yah? no? lol i thought so Good Lesson tho
    Perska
    I'm really new to sweeping, and I've only succesfully played this 3-string thing I invented, and it sounds so KEWL and FAST that I can't WAIT until I advance enought to get to try those long ones you have there. See you soon! > This is so exciting! Well, time to practice more. The skin in my fingers is already starting to fall off, and it hurts like hell. But the COOLNESS in it's purest form motivates me!
    Dregen
    The oval thing you mention works really really well for large sweeps. It keeps my hand more accurate and relaxed. For those who don't understand what he means, just go and watch your favorite sweep picker, because they probably do use mentioned technique.