Sweep Picking Technique Part 4

In last week’s article I gave examples of more modern applications of the sweep picking technique, and here would like to show you three more examples that show the potential of this technique.

Economy picking is related to alternate and sweep picking technique, whenever there is a string cross to be made, the player sweeps whenever possible. Like its name suggests, economy picking reduces the amount of movement that the picking hand needs to make, taking less energy to play fast. The second two of these licks involve a little economy picking. Just follow the picking directions slowly and it should all make sense. You may like to practice economy picking by playing an ascending 3 note per string scale, but using down, up, down, down, up, down etc strokes so that you sweep into each new string.

Sweep Picking Technique Example 1

First we combine one the 5 string arpeggio shapes from lesson three with tapping. By bringing the picking hand in to tap high notes we are able to extend the arpeggio without having to shift position in the fretting hand. Many players will play these ideas in a rushed rhythmic feel so that the tapped notes are on the beat. While this is effective, I’ve chosen to play it with a strict triplet feel to develop control. To make the tapped notes less risky to reach for, you may like to perform the sweep picking technique with the pick over the high frets so that it’s less far to move.

Sweep Picking Technique Example 2

Here we have a series of diminished arpeggios in E harmonic minor. It would be worth your time to loop one of the five note cell of the lick to a metronome to really ingrain the feel of the quintuplets. Before too long you will be able to feel the five groupings and just hear the melodic line of the lick. I picked all the notes, but it works just as well with legato where there are several notes on each string. Decide which one feels more comfortable and work on that.

Sweep Picking Technique Example 3

This lick combines three different ideas Firstly we have an Eb suspended arpeggio (Ebsus2). These shapes have a fresh modern sound that works in many different styles. After the bend we ascend the  Ebmaj7 arpeggio before descending again using a G minor fragment interspersed with fourth intervals. This is quite a challenging lick so be sure to program the picking directions of the last section very carefully before attempting to speed it up.

Two of the best economy pickers are Frank Gambale and Shaun Baxter. Shaun’s album Jazz Metal is chuck full of every conceivable guitar technique flawlessly and innovatively executed. Other progressive players who use the sweep picking technique include Buckethead, Guthrie Govan, Bumblefoot, and Tony MacAlpine.

Thank you for reading this column and I hope you have been able to get something out of it to help improve your playing. Please comment below with any questions or topics you would like me to tackle in future columns.