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Michael Johnson >> Guitar Techniques II >>

Teacher: Welcome class to the lesson series on Guitar Techniques. This lesson will feature Rake & Sweep Picking.

Teacher: Unfortunately I installed a new video driver and the capture is not working correctly, I'll have to add videos to the archive later.

Teacher: Let's get started. The first picking technique will be raking. This technique was used by the old blues and country players. Here's the first example.

Part 1 - Basic String Rake 1

Teacher: Rake picking is a lot like strumming a chord. In this example I strum a chord fast, then slowly and then rake a portion of the chord.

Jimb: Do you palm mute the rake?

Teacher: Jim yes, I was going to point out that you can palm mute the string using the picking hand, in addition you dig the pick harder into the strings. This gives the technique more attack. OK, in this example I also down pick (or ascend the strings). Here's the next example.

Part 1 - Basic String Rake 2

Teacher: Same basic technique, only up-picking (or descending the notes). OK, let's try a few exercises. In this example you down pick several chords.

Part 2 - String Rake - Exercise 1

Teacher: These are all rakes that down pick as you shift to different chords. You start with Em, F#m, G, A, & Bm.

Jimb: Does your 1st finger act like your barre and the F# C# A etc ?

Teacher: Jim, very good point, using your finger to barre helps you to position to play the rake, chord or arpeggio faster. Let's try another exercise.

Part 2 - String Rake - Exercise 2

Teacher: Notice you should develop this technique using both and and down picking. Here's the next exercise.

Part 2 - String Rake - Exercise 3

Jimb: I'm have trouble overshooting with my right hand when raking up >:( i hit my A string grrr).

Teacher: Jim you can mute the A string by wrapping your thumb around the neck and lightly touching that string. Or you can use the fret hand as well to mute that string.

Jimb: Ahhh....never thought of that...I'll use that method on my low E.

Teacher: Can any of you tell me what guitarists you know, that use the rake picking technique?

doug: Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Jake E Lee...

Jimb: Hendrix, Vai, Satch, Slash

AScriabin: Steve Morse

Teacher: Doug, Yngwie uses more sweep picking, as some of the other guitarists you mentioned, however more of the blues & rock guitarists use rake picking, versus the shredders who use more sweep picking. Hendrix is a big yes, and the other players as well. We'll get into the sweep picking in a bit. One player I really admire who uses this technique is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Here are a few examples.

Part 3 - Rake Example - SRV 1

Teacher: In this example you rack upwards after playing each note. Now this can be tough to play, so try practicing this slow at first and then build on the speed. Make sure you accent dragging the pick upward after playing each of the lower notes. Can you see where practicing the exercises I gave you earlier can help in riffs like this? In fact I suggest you take a period to practice only rakes before playing any songs that use this technique. Here's the next SRV example.

Part 3 - Rake Example - SRV 2

Teacher: The rake is a very subtle but effective technique in this riff. If you really listen close to SRV's records and live performances you'll notice how often he really uses this technique.

Jimb: The thumb comes in handy on this one :)

Teacher: Good point Jim, SRV, Hendrix, and many blues players use the thumb to play chords like this. Here's the next example.

AScriabin: the videos of SRV's Austin City Limits appearances really helped me learn (steal) some of his techniques.

Teacher: Oh yes, I watched that video before the lesson to get some ideas to illustrate for this lesson.

Part 3 - Rake Example - SRV 3

Teacher: In this example, notice how the rakes are subtle, but makes the phrase have more dynamics. The rakes also make the phrases more fluid and flow better. Here's a Jimmy Page lick that illustrates this technique as well.

Part 3 - Rake Example - Jimmy Page 1

Teacher: The rakes add more character to a solo. OK, let's get into the Sweep Picking.

doug: What's the difference between sweeping and raking?

Teacher: Sweep picking is a lot like rake picking, except you use arpeggios versus portions of a chord. You will also use more notes and even two or more notes on the same string as well. Here's the basic example.

Part 4 - Basic String Sweep 1

Teacher: In this example you use a portion of a Bm arpeggio. Notice how you hammer and pull-off on the 1st string (E).

Jimb: is it best to barre or play individually?

Teacher: Jim you can barre your fingers whenever possible, however you kind of roll your fret hand with the notes as you are sweeping downward and upward. Here's the next example.

Part 4 - Basic String Sweep 2

Teacher: This example uses a D Major arpeggio. Notice how you hammer-on the 5th string, starting from the root note (D), and then sweep downward until you hammer/pull-off on the 1st string (E) and sweep backwards.

AScriabin: That is some stretch on the E!

Teacher: This is a challenging technique! You have to get use playing the arpeggio, then coordinate the sweep picking with the fret hand. Take your time to get this technique down slowly, and then eventually build speed.

Jimb: I cant stretch that far without really hurting my hand... is it possible to tap the 1st string 10th fret?

Teacher: Jim you can tap, but try to stretch if you can. This is an excellent stretching exercise as you might have notice. Also position the thumb of your fret hand, directly on the back of your neck. Do not try to wrap the thumb on the top of the neck. The hand has to be open, wide and ready to play wide intervals. Here's the next example.

Part 4 - Basic String Sweep 3

Teacher: This exercise illustrates the core Dm Arpeggio, and then illustrates how you can sweep using only a portion of the arpeggio. Here's an exercise you can try.

Part 5 - String Sweep - Exercise 1

Teacher: This is tough to play, but take your time to adjust. You start with the E Major arpeggio, (sweeping down and up), then shift to D Major arpeggio, then C Major arpeggio, and then ending on B. Very tough to get down, but this should improve your overall technique after some practice. Please remember, take your time! Your hand will build up strength in many areas of your hand (stretch, rolling, syncing the right & left hand,...) Here's another exercise.

Part 5 - String Sweep - Exercise 2

Teacher: This is the same basic technique and arpeggios you used earlier, however this exercise jumps positions of the arpeggio. Here's a few licks you can try.

Part 6 - String Sweep - Lick 1

Teacher: This lick uses the Am scale and Am arpeggio sweep. Here's another lick.

Part 6 - String Sweep - Lick 2

Teacher: This lick uses the Am & Am arpeggio as well.

Teacher: Well it's time to go. Practice hard, and I look forward to seeing you at the next lesson!

Jimb: thank you very much :)

Teacher: I'm sure your hands will ache after this lesson 8-)

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