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Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is a popular technique among shred guitarists and it is used in many styles of music.

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This lesson I will be showing you examples to develop your sweep picking technique. Sweep picking is a popular technique among shred guitarists and it is used in many styles of music. It is a similar technique to raking. The tricky part of sweeping is getting the notes not to run together like a chord. I will be showing you some good ways to practice sweep picking and I will give you some musical examples.

Example 1
This first example is a two string G# minor arpeggio (G#, B, D#). This is a great way to develop your sweep picking, just using 2 strings. The right hand pick motion is just down, down, up continuously. Example 1a is the same arpeggio but we will be adding a pull off, this is a common way to play arpeggios.

Example 2
Let''s move on to three string arpeggios. Here we have a D major arpeggio (D, F#, A). This is a great one to practice, and is really useful. The right hand continues down, down, up. Make sure you are lifting off the left hand slightly after you hit each note so the notes don''t run together like a chord. Example 2a is great way to practice sweeping. We are moving the D major arpeggio up in half step intervals, the pinky and index finger is sliding up each time we move to the next arpeggio. Be sure you follow the suggested fingerings.

Examples 2b & 3
Example 2b is the same thing as the previous example, but now we are adding the 4th string. In example 3 we will add the 5th string to our D major arpeggio. This is a common shape and is fun to practice. In this example we are moving the five string arpeggio up in minor 3rd intervals. These examples are great for developing your sweep picking technique.

Example 4
Here is a A minor 5th string arpeggio (A, C, E). A cool way to add interest to your arpeggios is to change the top note. In this example we change the top note to a G, which gives us a Am7th arpeggio and by changing the top note to F# creates a Am6th arpeggio.

That wraps up the lesson, be sure to make up your own examples and for more info visit

Mike is an in-demand instructor with a number of recording, performance, TV and film credits to his name. Mike has studied with likes of Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Keith Wyatt, Stanley Jordan, John Hilton, Wayne Krantz and Bill Connors. Be sure and visit Mike''s site at for news, CDs and more information.