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Sweep Picking
for Ridiculous
Speed ‘glide over the
strings and get more
,notes per stroke
or many years I devoted myself
to perfecting my sweep picking
-a technique that can be used
in place of (or along with) alternate picking
to develop considerable speed. Many players
use sweep picking licks without realizing
how far this approach can be taken.
The most common flatpicking method
uses strict alternate strokes (down, up, down,
up); however, some players opt for a less
articulated effect, where the picked note is
followed by hammer-ons or pull-offs. In
sweep picking, the same pick stroke is used
to play from two to six notes. Depending on
the phrase, some alternate picking may also
be required. The economy of sweep picking
lets you play a lot of notes with minimal pick
movement, making it easier to play at high
speeds.
Look at Ex. 1, an A major scale fingering.
Because it has three notes per string, there is
a tendency to give it a triplet feel, so be sure
to practice it in groups of two or four notes
per beat. At first, practice only the ascending
By Frank Gambale
VOL.3 NO.6 / HOW TO PLAY GUITAR 77
notes. When you’re comfortable with that,
work on the descending sequence; many
players find ascending sweeps feel more nat-
Ural.
When sweep picking, remember:
1. Keep the notes as separate as possi-
ble-almost staccato (short) at first, espe-
ating yourself.
4. It’s harder to sweep at slower tempos, so
start with medium ones: For sixteenth-note
patterns, the quarter-note should be set
between 60 and 100.
The odd/even rule
cially when crossing strings. Newcomers to Sweep-picking licks require an odd number of
sweep picking tend to run the notes togeth- notes per string. In Ex. 1, notice that there are
er. three notes per string going up and three
2. Make sure your right hand is executing a notes per string going down. To reverse the
single movement when crossing strings, not direction of the sweep stroke in a line, you
two successive strokes. need an even number of notes on the string
3. Practice with a metronome or drum where the reversal takes place. The two con-
machine, and make sure the notes are clean setutive notes on the first string in Ex. 1 facil-
and even, Be critical and honest when evalu- itate the change of direction.
The sweep pattern in this example is criti-
cal, since practically any scale (and its inver-
sions) can be fingered using three notes per
string. This vastly simplifies the number of
patterns you need to know. More important, it
eliminates problem spots in conventional
scale patterns, where two notes per string
occur in certain places. The ideal scheme fea-
tures three notes on the E, A, 0, G, and B
strings, and two notes on the high E, which
allows you to reverse pick-stroke direction for
a descending sweep.
Ex. 2 is a sweep configuration for an A
pentatonic scale; notice that the sweeps cross
three strings. The odd/even rule still applies.
Since there are only two notes on the sixth
Ex.1 A major scale
nvvnvvnvvwvd
Ex. 2 A minor pentatonic
3
A 1 2 4
3
l A:, :4 2 I
. m a
. - e .
. m .
d * - - 4 ‘z
I 4
1 2 =427*s
4
I II i n n v n n n v n n n v v v n v v v n v v +I II
Ex. 3 Amaj7 arpeggio
. ?
I llnnnvnnnfivv I v n v
Ex. 4 Am7 arpeggio
78 HOW TO PLAY GUITAR / VOL.3 NO.6
I
string, begin with an upstroke so that you can but the right-hand motion is logical, quick,
sweep onto the fifth string and set things up and effortless.
for the rest of the scale.
The entire pattern goes: ‘Itvo notes on the
sixth string, three on the fifth, one on the
fourth, three on the third, and one on the sec-
ond. There are two notes on the first string for
the direction change. This example requires
quite a bit of left-hand stretching; allowing
your left-hand thumb and fingers to move
freely will help you reach the notes. For exam-
ple, once you play the fifth-string D, release it
for the E, and then release again for the G, and
so on-instead of stretching for notes, just
move your hand. These left-hand fingerings
are very different from conventional scales,
Harp on it
Arpeggio shapes are probably the most excit-
G#sa half-step.
ing aspect of sweep picking-once you get a
feel for them, they can be played at mind-bog-
gling speeds. Ex. 3 is a very useful Amaj7
The sweeps in Ex. 4 move across three
arpeggio fingering from which many others
can be derived. For example, to convert it to
and four strings. If you count each sweep as a
an A7 pattern, simply lower each G# a half-
step. For an Am7 arpeggio, lower the C#s and
single stroke, then each two-octave arpeggio
requires only six pick strokes-in other words,
six strokes are used to articulate 16 notes
(compared to 16 strokes for 16notes with con-
ventional alternate picking). The result?
Ridiculous speed with minimal right-hand
movement.
The simple triadic arpeggio in Ex. S-dif-
ficult with alternate picking, since it quickly
moves across the strings-is easily tackled
with sweep picking.
Statement,” an original exercise that features
some of the most extreme possibilities of
sweep picking. It’s a real challenge, a roller
Once you’ve got these patterns solidly
under your fingers, tackle “Sweeping
coaster ride over the whole fretboard. n
Ex.5 C arpeggio
Sweeping Statement
nnnnnn
VOL.3 NO.6 / HOW TO PLAY GUITAR 79
slowly
Am11
* fi
_ 11 Dmaj7 Dmaj7
Ami ln
80 HOW TO PLAY GUITAR / VOL.3 NO.6
I
Ad

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Sweep picking

  • 1. Sweep Picking for Ridiculous Speed ‘glide over the strings and get more ,notes per stroke or many years I devoted myself to perfecting my sweep picking -a technique that can be used in place of (or along with) alternate picking to develop considerable speed. Many players use sweep picking licks without realizing how far this approach can be taken. The most common flatpicking method uses strict alternate strokes (down, up, down, up); however, some players opt for a less articulated effect, where the picked note is followed by hammer-ons or pull-offs. In sweep picking, the same pick stroke is used to play from two to six notes. Depending on the phrase, some alternate picking may also be required. The economy of sweep picking lets you play a lot of notes with minimal pick movement, making it easier to play at high speeds. Look at Ex. 1, an A major scale fingering. Because it has three notes per string, there is a tendency to give it a triplet feel, so be sure to practice it in groups of two or four notes per beat. At first, practice only the ascending By Frank Gambale VOL.3 NO.6 / HOW TO PLAY GUITAR 77
  • 2. notes. When you’re comfortable with that, work on the descending sequence; many players find ascending sweeps feel more nat- Ural. When sweep picking, remember: 1. Keep the notes as separate as possi- ble-almost staccato (short) at first, espe- ating yourself. 4. It’s harder to sweep at slower tempos, so start with medium ones: For sixteenth-note patterns, the quarter-note should be set between 60 and 100. The odd/even rule cially when crossing strings. Newcomers to Sweep-picking licks require an odd number of sweep picking tend to run the notes togeth- notes per string. In Ex. 1, notice that there are er. three notes per string going up and three 2. Make sure your right hand is executing a notes per string going down. To reverse the single movement when crossing strings, not direction of the sweep stroke in a line, you two successive strokes. need an even number of notes on the string 3. Practice with a metronome or drum where the reversal takes place. The two con- machine, and make sure the notes are clean setutive notes on the first string in Ex. 1 facil- and even, Be critical and honest when evalu- itate the change of direction. The sweep pattern in this example is criti- cal, since practically any scale (and its inver- sions) can be fingered using three notes per string. This vastly simplifies the number of patterns you need to know. More important, it eliminates problem spots in conventional scale patterns, where two notes per string occur in certain places. The ideal scheme fea- tures three notes on the E, A, 0, G, and B strings, and two notes on the high E, which allows you to reverse pick-stroke direction for a descending sweep. Ex. 2 is a sweep configuration for an A pentatonic scale; notice that the sweeps cross three strings. The odd/even rule still applies. Since there are only two notes on the sixth Ex.1 A major scale nvvnvvnvvwvd Ex. 2 A minor pentatonic 3 A 1 2 4 3 l A:, :4 2 I . m a . - e . . m . d * - - 4 ‘z I 4 1 2 =427*s 4 I II i n n v n n n v n n n v v v n v v v n v v +I II Ex. 3 Amaj7 arpeggio . ? I llnnnvnnnfivv I v n v Ex. 4 Am7 arpeggio 78 HOW TO PLAY GUITAR / VOL.3 NO.6 I
  • 3. string, begin with an upstroke so that you can but the right-hand motion is logical, quick, sweep onto the fifth string and set things up and effortless. for the rest of the scale. The entire pattern goes: ‘Itvo notes on the sixth string, three on the fifth, one on the fourth, three on the third, and one on the sec- ond. There are two notes on the first string for the direction change. This example requires quite a bit of left-hand stretching; allowing your left-hand thumb and fingers to move freely will help you reach the notes. For exam- ple, once you play the fifth-string D, release it for the E, and then release again for the G, and so on-instead of stretching for notes, just move your hand. These left-hand fingerings are very different from conventional scales, Harp on it Arpeggio shapes are probably the most excit- G#sa half-step. ing aspect of sweep picking-once you get a feel for them, they can be played at mind-bog- gling speeds. Ex. 3 is a very useful Amaj7 The sweeps in Ex. 4 move across three arpeggio fingering from which many others can be derived. For example, to convert it to and four strings. If you count each sweep as a an A7 pattern, simply lower each G# a half- step. For an Am7 arpeggio, lower the C#s and single stroke, then each two-octave arpeggio requires only six pick strokes-in other words, six strokes are used to articulate 16 notes (compared to 16 strokes for 16notes with con- ventional alternate picking). The result? Ridiculous speed with minimal right-hand movement. The simple triadic arpeggio in Ex. S-dif- ficult with alternate picking, since it quickly moves across the strings-is easily tackled with sweep picking. Statement,” an original exercise that features some of the most extreme possibilities of sweep picking. It’s a real challenge, a roller Once you’ve got these patterns solidly under your fingers, tackle “Sweeping coaster ride over the whole fretboard. n Ex.5 C arpeggio Sweeping Statement nnnnnn VOL.3 NO.6 / HOW TO PLAY GUITAR 79
  • 4. slowly Am11 * fi _ 11 Dmaj7 Dmaj7 Ami ln 80 HOW TO PLAY GUITAR / VOL.3 NO.6 I