Sweep Picking Arpeggio Licks

Sweep Picking Arpeggios

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Sweep Picking Arpeggios For Impressive Sounding Licks

There's no denying it, sweep-picking arpeggios sound very impressive when played cleanly.

Much of my own guitar learning was done in the 1980s and that was a golden era for shred guitar. The Shrapnel record label constantly released new records containing high-octane, ridiculously impressive shred guitar. Players such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Greg Howe, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Vinnie Moore and Tony Macalpine to name but a few would always impress me with their chops.

Many of these great rock players used sweep picking technique as a tool to create some impressive guitar playing.

How To Sweep Pick

Sweep-picking is actually pretty easy when you look at what is required when using the technique. I always tell students to perform a 'controlled strum' and control note separation with the left hand (or right hand for a left-handed guitar player).

The trick is to pluck multiple strings with one pick stroke and not let the pick move away from the strings. When practising slowly, most students will move the pick away from the string between each pick stroke. A student will not be able to sweep pick at full speed if he or she cannot perform the correct technique at slower speeds.

It Is Best To Start Small

I always advise students to practise sweep picking with smaller melodic fragments first. Sweep picking across two or three strings is much easier than across all six strings and it will be easier to focus on the correct technique.

Once a few smaller fragments are mastered, joining these together to create longer patterns will be much easier than trying to sweep-pick long phrases. It will also be much easier to locate and fix problems with technique.

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Sweep Picking Arpeggio Licks

This arpeggio workout will undoubtedly give your sweep-picking technique a boost. It is always best to start with smaller sweep-picking units that only cover a few strings. When playing arpeggios across all six strings, any weaknesses in your playing technique will be obvious.

Playing long arpeggios over a chord progression is very classical sounding, although playing in this way can lead to a lack of excitement. I always approach these types of technique workouts purely for practice purposes.

Once you have mastered this example, try applying a similar approach to any chord progression. All you are doing is re-stating the chord and all songs have a chord progression, or an implied chord progression.

Classical Sweep Picking Triads

This sweep picking idea was inspired by guitar players such as Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie is a master at these types of licks and is well worth studying to learn melodic sequences and picking techniques in general.

I love Yngwie's guitar playing as not only does he possess incredible technique, he plays with so much passion and feel.

Probably the most difficult part of this lick is the rapidly changing positions. Changing positions and having the overall idea sound smooth and not disjointed is a challenge in itself.

Sweep Picking Arpeggio Sequence

This is about as basic as it gets when working on the sweep picking technique. One D major triad and a specific picking pattern allocated to it.

Once you have mastered the major triad, flatten the 3rd for a minor triad, flatten the 3rd and 5th for a diminished triad and raise the 5th for an augmented triad. With these triads under your fingers, you will be able to arpeggiate most chord progressions.

As with all of this week's licks, they are really only exercises. Learn the technique and then combine this with other elements of your playing. A balanced mix of sweep picking, alternate picking and legato will result in great-sounding solos.

Train Your Ears For Free

The interval structure of basic arpeggios is quite simple. Being able to play arpeggios is one thing, but you need to be able to hear and recognise the sounds too. Click the button below to gain access to my free ear training mini-course. The mini-course gives you all the tools to easily train your ears.
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