How To Improve Your Sweep Picking. Part 2

This article will give you several helpful ideas for how to improve this part of your playing.

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Are you not yet the sweep picker you desire to be? If so, then continue reading and this article will give you several helpful ideas for how to improve this part of your playing. In the last article on the topic of sweep picking, I described to you several of the most common problems guitar players have with sweep picking technique. If you missed that article, watch this free 16 minute video sweep picking lesson on how to overcome 4 of the most common sweep picking problems. This video is a good summary of the last lesson and will help you to get the most from the rest of this article. To help you further with getting better at this technique, I want to tell you several more strategies that will help you with both the physical aspect of sweep picking as well as the creative aspect of using this technique in your music. Of course, these practice ideas aren't the 'only' approaches to use when practicing sweep picking, but if you add them to what you are doing already you will begin to progress faster. Double Pick Each Note Of The Arpeggio This means play each note twice with the pick as you are playing through your arpeggio licks. This will help you with your coordination and will challenge your picking hand much more. Because you are picking each note twice, your hand has to move much more than it would if you were doing regular sweep picking motions. As I discussed in this free sweep picking video lesson, normally you want to have the pick move in a single continuous motion when sweep picking. By double picking each note you would be purposely breaking away from that to intentionally create a greater challenge for your picking hand. The good news is that after doing this for a few days (or a week), going back to regular sweep picking motion will feel much easier than ever before. Here is an example of double picking each note of an arpeggio: Make sure that you are playing cleanly when practicing this example. Slow down as much as necessary to make sure you are playing cleanly. Also, don't let the pick travel too far away from the strings (minize that motion as much as possible). Play Arpeggios In Unusual Place On The Neck This can mean 2 different things: 1. Practice sweep picking on the extreme ends of the fretboard where you don't normally play arpeggios a whole lot. (such as in the range of frets 19-24 and frets 1-5). Doing this will not only make your fretting hand more coordinated, flexible and relaxed while playing, but also will help to increase your awareness of the notes on the guitar neck. This in turn, will help you to familiarize yourself with the layout of arpeggios all over the fretboard. 2. Play arpeggios on groups of strings where you don't normally play arpeggios. For example, consider this arpeggio: (notice that here you are playing on strings 4 3 and 2, which is not the most common place on the guitar to sweep pick). When playing shapes like these, you should MUTE the strings that you aren't playing (this is very important!). or this one: Here we purposely isolate the part of the arpeggio which is played on the lower strings. Practicing unconventional arpeggio shapes (in terms of WHERE they are played on guitar) such as these will do a lot to make your hands more comfortable with playing arpeggios on any group of strings. These exercises will also have a lot of carryover to the traditional arpeggio shapes which you already know. In addition, playing arpeggios on the lower strings will really test how clean your sweep picking really is. Most guitar players can sweep pick reasonably cleanly on arpeggios on the high strings, but sweep picking on the lower strings requires great control over your picking hand articulation and can sound very sloppy if you are not careful. If you have trouble with playing these arpeggios cleanly, or want to see how the picking hand motions for sweep picking should be practiced, watch this free video sweep picking lesson. Pick every note of the arpeggio (without any hammer ons or pull offs) This is one of my favorite ways to play arpeggios and it is also one that is very easy to speed up after only a little bit of practice. Look at the example below: Notice that every note in this arpeggio is picked (there are no hammer ons and pull offs). This is an easy exercise to build speed with and it will help you with getting control over the picking hand for sweep picking. The reason why licks like these are easy to speed up is because the picking hand only has to move up or down and is not interrupted by hammer ons and pull offs. That being said, if you are used to playing arpeggios that use only hammer ons and pull offs, it will take a little practice getting used to the new way of picking through these examples. But you will soon get the hang of it if you practice consistently. What you should do now is take the ideas I discussed in this article and begin applying them to your practicing. The specific licks/arpeggios from this article are only isolated examples of each idea, but there are dozens of variations that you can come up with within the general parameters which I discussed. Ideas like these will do a lot to help your sweep picking. Use them in your practicing and your skill with this technique will greatly improve. About the author: Mike Philippov is a professional virtuoso guitarist, music composer and instructor. He is also a co-author of several instructional products, numerous articles and other free instructional resources available on http://mikephilippov.com. 2010 Mike Philippov. All Rights Reserved.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Flibo
    Freepower, I'm pretty sure he meant unusual string groupings for sweeping, and he probably isn't wrong if he means that sweeps including the top string are very popular. Are you trying to deny that?
    Freepower
    I think this is a pretty poor article. I mean, honestly - "Sweep on unusual string groupings"? If your musical plans don't involve more than "3 and 5 string arpeggios involving the top string" then you shouldn't be learning to sweep in the first place. And aside from that, I felt like I was getting battered with the "blindingly obvious" club.
    Guitardude19
    The video was helpful and the article was good. My rolling technique sucked so much before I read this article and watched the video. After a day of practice I am starting to see and hear improvements. Great article and a very helpful video.
    ibanezsa
    Hi Mike, I am an advanced Sweep Picker, I am able to nearly play 3 and 5 string sweeps at 900 Notes per minute. I love this advice, I am surely going to incorporate this in my practicing, I know this will help me get to that 1000 Npm mark. Can't believe you give this for free, people should pay for this advice Thanks a lot George
    toxicvoid
    ibanezsa wrote: Hi Mike, I am an advanced Sweep Picker, I am able to nearly play 3 and 5 string sweeps at 900 Notes per minute. I love this advice, I am surely going to incorporate this in my practicing, I know this will help me get to that 1000 Npm mark. Can't believe you give this for free, people should pay for this advice Thanks a lot George
    Errrhm. Okaaay.
    GHO57
    i thought this was helpful but if you can sweep pick already, why do you argue and not just shut up?
    DrewsGotTheLife
    dude. thnx for this article, this helped me out in minutes to finally sweep pick, i just need to master this in a few days.
    David Blackbird
    @Kanthras: I don't know, my high school orchestra teacher almost always had us double the notes in speed runs before we played them as written, it does seem to help... @guitr4God: I think this article is more for right hand improvement than left hand technique.
    guitr4God
    this looks really helpful, i'm going to go try some of this out right now...but i jsut thought i'd say something that i think is wierd...probably on my part...but, i can sweep a lot better on the low stings than the high...maybe that's just because i'm more used to it...idk. oh, one more thing, what about sweeps like in the solo from "The Night" by Disturbed where you use a lot of hammer ons and pull offs? there isn't much here for that type of stuff....
    Kanthras
    Throwing in those extra notes makes it easier, not harder.. It just becomes alternate picking (mostly). Hey, I'll let you in on a secret. Here's the key to improving your sweep picking: practice a lot, very very slowly, absolutely perfectly. I KNOW! Wierd huh?
    AxeHappy
    I think you might be shocked at how much easier it makes normal sweep picking. You still want to maintain the sweep picking motion you just throw a normal alternate picking motion as well. Makes it a lot harder so that when you go back to just the sweep picking it seems easy. Just give it a try before knocking it.
    TheLukeMaxfield
    i see where you're coming from. but i dont think double picking each note would help much, as i would find that much easier than the usual sweeping motion which is hard to co-ordinate with the other hand. i just practice them very slowly until i'm smooth enough to speed up.
    Slash_is_a_God
    This seems more like a technical article as opposed to a theoretical one, so I'm not sure why it's under Music Theory :\ Solid stuff either way. I'll be sure to give it a try.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Draconis93 wrote: Yeah, right, like I'm going to give out my e-mail for a free video, I'll just figure it out through trial and error, it's always worked in the past.
    LOL! You amuse me...
    Draconis93
    Yeah, right, like I'm going to give out my e-mail for a free video, I'll just figure it out through trial and error, it's always worked in the past.
    Kanthras
    That double picking each note isn't really sweep picking anymore, is it? It's mostly alternate picking with a bit of economy thrown in. But nice article anyway.