If there was a contest for the most impressive guitar technique, sweep picking would probably come out on top. Unlike legato, it’s a skill that allows you to play arpeggios and scales blazingly fast while keeping enough articulation to clearly hear every note. Thankfully, this technique is pretty easy to get started with and Guitareo Coach Dean Lamb is here to set you off on the right path!
Many shred guitar lessons will have you learning how to sweep with small 3-string arpeggios. The problem here is that it doesn’t really get your picking hand used to the full chord shapes you’ll want to use down the line. We’ll be using 5-string shapes in this metal guitar lesson for that very reason. The technique itself utilizes a mostly-locked wrist while you use your arm to move the pick back and forth over the strings.
Muting is essential when you’re learning how to sweep pick on the guitar. So when you ascend the strings you’ll use your picking hand to mute and when you descend you’ll mute with your fretting hand. Getting all these little things to work in tandem is key for clean sweeping technique.
Sweep Picking Arpeggios
The first shape we’ll be learning is based on your standard A minor chord shape. Simply move the shape all the way up the fretboard and add a few extra notes and you’ll have the arpeggio. Once you ascend to the top of the arpeggio, it’s important that you double pick the highest string to give the sweep more impact. You’ll also want to work on something called pick planting, which is pushing your pick through the string and resting it on the next one. This little tip will help break you out of your standard alternate picking technique and make your sweeps faster and more fluid.
The other arpeggio shape we’ll look at is based on an A major chord. Use all the same techniques and principles from the first shape and it shouldn’t be too challenging. The great thing about sweeping is that you can take literally any chord you know and create an arpeggio that you can sweep pick. If you want to learn more about these moveable chord shapes, check out our guide on the CAGED method.
Check out Dean Lamb’s full shredding course inside the Guitareo members’ area with your 7-day free trial.