Learn 3 Ways To Develop Fast & Clean Sweep Picking


By Tom Hess


Want to massively increase your clean sweep picking speed?


Wish you could shred jaw-dropping arpeggios anytime you felt like it?


And do it flawlessly - without any unwanted sloppy sounds coming from the strings you aren’t playing or notes blurring together?


Great! This is definitely the article for you.


You're about to learn the most critical concepts needed to play perfect sweep picking arpeggios.


The following are the main things you need to learn about:


- the things to think about while concentrating on your fretting hand and picking hand in order to sweep faster, plus:


- which mistakes you need to steer clear of in order to play fast and clean.


First thing is first, prepare yourself to dominate sweep picking technique by watching the video below:




Now that you understand the fundamentals, let’s go further.


Staying away from three common mistakes helps your sweep picking sound clean at fast speeds.


Mistake #1: Ruining Your Momentum.


What does it mean to ruin your momentum while performing sweep picking arpeggios?


You break up the picking motion needed to sweep pick cleanly by stopping the pick (even just a little bit) as you move from one string to the next.


This seems to occur a lot while ascending from the lowest in pitch string to the highest pitch string.


You saw the video, right? It can even happen when you move the pick up and away like I demonstrated.


This is probably the number one killer of sweep picking speed.


What can you do about it?


Push through using a strumming motion as you move from thicker strings to thinner ones, then use a pulling back motion as you go in the opposite direction.


Check this video out to see a demonstration of what I'm talking about here:





Mistake #2: Spending Too Much Time Unplugged.


It’s preferable to use distortion to practice sweep picking for the majority of your practice time.


You might be thinking, “but doesn’t distortion cover up your mistakes and keep you from playing clean in the long run?”


Not the case.


Distortion helps you find the mistakes you need to correct because it makes sloppy playing much more easy to spot. Regarding sweep picking, this is very helpful to see when notes ring out together.


You can’t really hear notes ringing out together while playing unplugged or without distortion. This means you could go a long time before noticing a big issue with your sweep picking if you don't practice with distortion.


Check out this lead guitar video by guitar player Mike Philippov where he talks about it in more detail.


Question: “Tom Hess, should I abandon clean tone practice altogether?”


Answer: If you use light picking articulation, playing on clean settings can be very helpful for playing clearer and better sounding notes. That said, weak articulation is not a very critical aspect of sweep picking technique.




Mistake #3: Uneven Note Rhythms.


Lightning fast, clean sweep picking sounds amazing.


But what sounds sloppy?


Rushing the legato (hammer on or pull off) at the highest or lowest part of the arpeggio pattern.


This is something you see all the time (I know I do, because I correct this issue for many of my new students).


This video demonstrates what it sounds like:




Why is this such a big issue?


Some parts of the arpeggio are played at a slightly slower speed than others. Result: you end up slowing down in the middle of an arpeggio and it falls apart.


Congratulations! You now understand the fundamentals of sweep picking. Next, learn five killer sweep picking mastery secrets anyone (including you) can use to take their arpeggios to another dimension.


Want to learn these secrets for free? Get this free sweep picking guide and start sweep picking like never before.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and composer. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Learn more on the Tom Hess Wikipedia page.