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Sweep Picking Lesson For The Guitar

Tennyson WilliamsTennyson is author of The Essential Guide to Guitar Virtuosity, which is an excellent ebook we recommend and can be downloaded from He’s just sent us this brand new lesson on sweep picking, if you like this lesson make sure you visit his site!

What Is Sweep Picking?

This sweep picking lesson is aimed at the beginner, but it is designed in such a way with the intention of maximizing your efforts. In case you don’t know, a sweep is a way of playing an arpeggio. An arpeggio is when you take a chord and pick out the notes individually. Alternate picking works fine, but if you want your arpeggios to sound fluid, clean, and fast – sweep picking is the way to go.

How Do you Do Sweep Picking?

As I mentioned before, alternate picking isn’t very efficient for these patterns, so we need something more economical with our movements. Sweeps are like a strum, but very controlled. When ascending through the strings you should use only down strokes, and when descending through the strings you should use only up strokes.

Practicing Sweep Picking

For this sweep lesson we will start off with a 3 string pattern and then slowly add a string at a time until we are doing a 5 string sweep. The coordination is very tricky between the right hand and the left hand, so its important that you take this first pattern and work with it for as long as you need to, at a slow rate of speed. In all honesty, it took me a very long time just to get the pick to push through all of the strings, even played slowly, so don’t beat yourself up.

It is very important that you make sure that your hammer ons and pull offs are loud and clear, as they are the driving force for the sound and the timing of this sweep. Use a metronome if you have one available. Guitar Speed Trainer is ideal.

Sweep Picking Exercise One

Sweep Picking Exercise Two

Sweep Picking Exercise Three

Sweep Picking Exercise Four

Now we’re going to put this same pattern all together to create a complete sweep passage. Its the same picking and fingering, but this time with a few slides in between to make it more fluid. This is also good for fretting hand strength, but just be mindful to make the slides sound as clear and strong as the hammer ons and pull offs.

Sweep Picking Exercise Five

Now if the last series of patterns are a little too much for you, here is the same melody but only using 3 strings, or the top half of each pattern:

Sweep Picking Exercise Six

Guide To Guitar Virtuosity

None of these articles can truly do for your playing what The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity can – get your copy today!

Copyright © 2009 Tennyson Williams. All rights reserved.

Tennyson Williams is an accomplished guitar instructor and author of The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity. To find out more visit his main site at:

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