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Storm Stenvold >> Developing Speed >>

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Teacher: Hi everyone. This lesson we are looking at 'economy' or 'sweep' picking.

Teacher: Metal, jazz, rock, blues and fusion players all use this technique.

Teacher: Frank Gambale, a fusion player, is one of this technique's big proponents. Definetely a must hear.

Teacher: Sweep picking is the use of consecutive up or downstrokes to play notes on adjacent strings.

Teacher: We all may have used this technique to play 'arpeggio' parts in rhythm guitar parts.

Teacher: Controlling sweeps seems to be much more difficult than actually learning to play one so my recommendation is to take an exercise very slowly and play each note as loudly as possible

Eddie_solo: do u hold the pick higher up and angle it

Teacher: Many pick positions can work. Ideally, the same position as usual will allow you to switch picking techniques smoothly.

Teacher: Here is our first sweep phrase.

Cm7 Sweep

Teacher: Move from string to string without restarting your wrist. For the first three notes use a consecutive falling downstroke, answered with a consecutive upstroke. Then loop the exercise.

Teacher: Coordinating the right and left hands is essential to get clean 'single note' lines.

Teacher: Start loud. This really speeds up the development of the technique. After you have achieved clear, even notes speed it up and soften the touch.

Teacher: Here is a sound clip to demonstrate the potential of this speed technique.

Teacher: The same sweep shape can also become a different chord type when moved to a different string.

G7 Sweep

Teacher: There are many 'sweep' shapes to take advantage of this technique. A familiar and really useful one to practice the sweep is our familiar major bar chord shape.

CMajor Chord

Teacher: In the left hand pay attention to releasing each note as you play the next. There is a 'rolling' technique that should be mastered to allow for the cleanest sound and the quickest movement for the pick hand.

Teacher: Frank Gambale called it the 'ink pad' move. Like using an ink stamp as you roll the pressure across.

Teacher: Pick up the finger as you play with the next if the fingers are different. Roll the finger if using it on consecutive strings.

Teacher: You might hear what is called a 'rake'


Teacher: Now, a main concept is to have odd numbers of notes when going in the same direction with your sweep. Then an even number of notes to turn back the other direction.

Teacher: Notice that is done with each phrase given so far.

Teacher: OK. Listen to the audio and follow the fingering of the tab example.

Teacher: Next try to learn sweeps with a small scale run before, and after, the sweep itself

Scale Run + Sweep Combination

Teacher: Play the last tab alternate picking, then starting on 8th note of the phrase, at the 8th fret, use a consecutive downstroke sweep until you get to the fifth string. Then alternate picking to the phrase's end.

Teacher: Sweeps can incorporate hammer-ons and pull-offs as well. This is a nice way to keep a sweep intact if there are an even number of notes on a string. Or an odd number at the 'turnaround' point. The riff includes a hefty 5 fret stretch on the 1st string.

Dmajor Sweep with Hammer-On

Teacher: Let's explore some popular chord shapes for sweep technique. I will show them for a minor chord off the A root. For major chords off the G root.

Minor Arpeggio Sweep

Teacher: Feel free to add or alter notes of the phrase. Try to keep the number of notes per string the same, but feel free to experiment and let something catch your ear.

Teacher: But these shapes coming are pretty 'stock'.

Teacher: And a couple more minor shapes. Then the majors. We will have a jam track that these will all work against, too

More Minor Arpeggio Sweep Shapes

Teacher: The next tab is a major shape in G. Should work against the jam track in A minor.

Major Arpeggio Sweep

Teacher: Keep in mind that you can play partials of these shapes or start at different points within them. But, as written now, these are setup to sweep, and then sweep again.

Teacher: A couple more major shapes.

More Major Arpeggio Sweep Shapes

Teacher: Try sweeping down one chord and the other for sweeping back up. In the same key these can create interesting colors.

Am-G Sweep

Sweep Lick

Teacher: The last two tabs follow Am then to G. The last resolves to F, good for the jam track. Here is a video.

Teacher: It shows both hands working at the same time. This coordination is not easy but comes with practice. Remember, start slow and LOUD>

Teacher: Try this as a good exercise. It will work on the sweep and moving chord.

Am-G-F Sweep

Teacher: Pentatonic notes can be added to chord sweeps. This next lick adds notes to an E major sweep. It incorporates hammers and pulloffs, too

E major pent sweep

Teacher: Here is a video clip showing it up to speed.

Teacher: Finally, for those wanting to go to the extremes for sweeping. Scale shape to take advantage of this picking technique.

Upstroke scale sweep exercise

Teacher: The upstroke is perhaps the hardest for most to develop. This phrase is a good one to work on consecutive upstrokes.

Teacher: And another exercise for downstrokes.

Downstroke scale sweep exercise

Teacher: If it isn't clear, D=Downstroke and U=Upstroke in the tabs

Teacher: sim... means simile. Again: repeat the pattern.

Teacher: Our three note per string scale shapes, from our earlier speed lessons, can be adapted perfectly to this technique.

Scale Fragment Sweep

Teacher: The first two speed archives emphasize alternate picking. That is the fundamental principle for speed so you might work those first. But this is an interesting supplement technique

Teacher: A tab of a scale covering all six strings and back and then one more lick. Then were done.

Scale Sweeps in C

Teacher: Great. Master these sweeps. Impress your friends and loved ones

A Major Sweep Lick

Teacher: And finally a 'sweet' A major phrase. Just to prove all sweeps are 'bad to the bone'.

Teacher: Well that is it for our 'sweep picking' lesson. Thanks so much for tuning in.

Scale Sweep

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