Why You Think Sweeping Is Hard (And Why You're Wrong)

There's a simple misunderstanding surrounding sweep picking, perpetuated by teachers emphasizing the wrong aspect of the technique.

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Ultimate Guitar
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Sweep picking is, in my mind, without a doubt the most puffed-up, overly worshipped technique in the shred guitar arsenal. Beginners who try to get into the technique are often very intimidated because, according to their peers, it's apparently some absurdly difficult trick that runs counter-intuitive to everything they've come to understand about guitar. I disagree. I think that this attitude is not only unfounded, but it serves to make sweeping into a harder and harder goal for beginners to attain. There's a mental block (or several) at work when we attempt to practice something with this sort of attitude in mind. In the following video lesson, I intend to showcase an alternative point of focus for aspiring sweep-pickers, that will hopefully resolve this mental block and make the technique far easier to grasp. Included in the video's description is a tab that will also outline the basic arpeggios. Enjoy!
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71 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Kreuger
    I've been playing guitar for 10 years and it's something I still haven't gotten down.
    Dynamight
    Sweeping isn't that hard. It's just that unlike most other techniques, you have to fully master it before you can have fun with it. Which is actually a good thing.
    Bigdubb
    Great video, but... You should clean your room. That mess is just screaming "ROACHES!" In all seriousness, good lesson.
    KevinGoetz
    :p I appreciate the concern. I actually clean my desk off like once a week, but a new mess just pops in its place. It's the price to pay for being a workaholic, I guess.
    Silord1
    I too thought his sweeping was a little sloppy that said I still found what he said massively helpful and I had not heard anyone approach it like that - eg telling me why it sounds like garbled shit when I do it. also, to be fair he was talking the whole time and I cant even speak whilst playing simple stuff - drives the missis nuts when she tries to talk to me about whats for dinner while I'm throwing riffs at the dog in the spare room!
    KevinGoetz
    I appreciate the support. It's quite difficult to process the lesson I'm giving while continuously showing examples. To the critics: You can think what you want, honestly. It's not my job to convince you of anything. It's my job to play music. This is a lesson showcasing a fundamental yet neglected aspect of sweeping, not a technical demo. There are plenty of readily-available examples on my channel in which I do not play in a manner you would perceive as sloppily, but as I said, I couldn't care less whether you check those out or continue to complain about a free tutorial video. It's your time; do with it what you will.
    SkyValley
    Yeah maybe, but now I'm not going to watch your other videos because you offended my intelligence with this shitty one. As far as I'm concerned you're just another dumb metal nerd with a schecter and a line 6, and that's the way I will remember you for the rest of my life.
    KevinGoetz
    Then your intelligence can't have been particularly difficult to offend. Oh well. Have fun wasting mental acuity on remembering someone you dislike for the rest of your life. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over one troll out of the literal hundreds of people this video has already helped. Good luck with your music, buddy =)
    My Last Words
    I find sweeping to be pretty hard actually. So far I mostly practiced 5-6 sweeps (the upsweeps are easy, but for some reason the downsweeps are still difficult). Also, I find it very hard to make the transition from 5-6 string sweeps to 3 string sweeps : (
    satyam 29
    How the **** are upsweeps easier???? I mess up during upsweep but can play downsweeps perfectly.....
    chrisvasco23
    im the same way. up sweeps are so difficult for me with a pick. what i do is downsweep with the pick, then do a pull off/hammer on method to complete the sweep going up. it might be half assed, but this is how i learned it.
    KevinGoetz
    Up-sweeps are easier for me too. I think it's because we have that pulloff at the very beginning, so there's more time for your brain to process the rest of the muscle memory, whereas a down-sweep just launches straight into...well, the sweeping motion. It'll get easier the more you do it, especially with the muting-focused approach here.
    SkyValley
    That is some of the sloppiest sweeping I have ever heard. You're supposed to be able to hear ALL the notes, not a garbled fuzzy muted mess followed by the top two notes of the arpeggio. You tell people to mute the notes behind you when you are actively muting the bass notes AS YOU PLAY THEM. The part where you say you "managed to squeak out a few mistakes," the entire thing was mistakes. You didn't manage to play it properly one single time during that sequence.
    My Last Words
    I'm not even close to a good sweep picker but unfortunately I agree with this as well. Needs some cleaning up..
    My Last Words
    Looks like someone here does not like the fact that I critique others even though they are better than me.. It's just constructive criticism, unlike saying "you suck!".
    eddiehopper61
    Good advice, Kevin. And good for you that you don't let these pissing little girls get to you! I have laughed for twenty minutes now. If they know everything, why are they on here?
    KevinGoetz
    Thanks! Yeah, they're pretty funny, aren't they? Digital anonymity can make people so stupid sometimes.
    andreasmusic555
    im not going to watch some1 with a pokemon on his head thnx
    shrekisloveshre
    What's wrong with Pokemon?
    fromzero
    Catching wild animals and trapping them in a round ball 1:100th the size of their body. Forcing them to train and fight (and if they loose...) Idk Michael Vick, what's wrong with Pokemon?
    spiff-corgi
    Judging A Book By Its Cover 101
    crazysam23_Atax
    Then you're going to miss a good lesson. I've followed Kevin's "How to Write Progressive Metal" series, and it's quite good. This lesson is also quite good. If you're lame enough to judge him based on the hat he's wearing, you're pretty damn lame.
    liette.6
    I'm not going to listen to someone who can't take the time to type out "someone"
    SeereAgaar
    This is well and good and I agree with is, but at the same time, another thing you have to focus on and get together on is coordination with the left and right hand. No matter how much you much the strings after the note is picked, if both hands aren't coordinated together and on the same note together, the muting isn't going to matter. I'm not trying to shit on this guy's lesson by any means. I just thought I would point out another important thing that has to be taken into consideration when sweep picking.
    MaggaraMarine
    That's true but he said before you focus on other things, focus on the muting. Then start focusing on picking and fretting the notes. So I think the point of the video was that what makes sweeping more difficult is that people don't learn to mute the strings.
    bleh0
    1. Okay, this editing with the fast cuts got old ages ago. Everyone that tries to be funny does that. 2. You put 1 minute of information into a 7 minute video. 3. The way you talk to try funny is just embarrassing. 4. Your sweeping is sloppy. 5. Pokemon hat? Not funny, not ironic, nothing. Just embarrassing. 6. Your room? Awful. You should seriously reconsider some life choices of you.That whole video screams: Loser.
    soulgrenade
    No reason to call him a loser, i don't see anyone watching YOU try to teach.
    bleh0
    But there are a lot of people watching me teaching. And i don't have pokemon posters in my room.
    KevinGoetz
    I appreciate being one of the first people you troll with your brand new account, buddy. So, considering I can't find a link to any sort of lessons on your profile, where can I find a link to this place where all these people allegedly watch you teach? When will people like you figure this out? I'm self-employed doing what I love - playing and teaching music. I love my life! So at the end of the day, you're wasting your time with all this trolling.
    bleh0
    You love sitting lonely in a room in your mothers house? If you had any self respect you would take that video down in an instant. But you probably say "Oh i'm so meta quirky geeky ironic!" and then you feel good because a few 13 years old told you that they liked that stupid video. You can call me troll. I don't care.... you know i speak the truth.
    KevinGoetz
    The sheer quantity of false assumptions shooting out of your mouth like diarrhea are absolutely hilarious. Please, keep them coming! If you give me enough material to work with, I can actually turn this into a music video all about morons like you who waste emotional energy trying to piss off others on the internet! It'll be brimming with Pokemon imagery, since I know you love that so much! <3
    bornindarknesst
    he just said sweeping and arpeggios are the same thing. I give him no credit.
    KevinGoetz
    I said no such thing. I said sweep picking is a technique used to play arpeggios, and arpeggios are chords in which the notes are played one at a time. Not really sure what video you were watching ^_^
    rcm93
    Sweeping is the dumbest technique ever. Especially when metal heads think they're really clever and do dumb shit like play a three part chord over a six string sweep... over and over again. Try playing staccato alternate picked 4+ parts arpeggios at the same speed..
    Vatussi
    It's really all about doing it. Or that's how I got to the point where I'm now(No, I can't sweep incredibly well, but it is getting better day by day). I don' sweep like six hours per day, more like 15-30 minutes, and I don't even consider it practise. More like fun shit to do. Also, finger rolls are pretty difficult.
    xevious1
    1. Sweep the solo section from Under a glass moon. 2. tell me that sweeping is easy.
    KevinGoetz
    I know this is probably intended as a joke, but I've actually been tossing around the idea of posting a formal cover of that solo. I actually don't believe its sweep section is particularly complex. So, I guess...challenge accepted =) It'll also act as a nice opportunity to show up everyone who seems to think a lesson is a good indicator of one's playing skills. Thanks for the idea!
    Reages
    And i always thought it's one of the hardest things to do on guitar :|
    DDJJ
    65 where he says you are never going to do that....huh, unless you are Joe Satriani. Better than me on the sweeping but still sounds sloppy