Want to play amazing sweep picking arpeggios that demand the attention of everyone who hears you play? It's actually much easier to do than you think. The key is focusing on building incredible amounts of musical tension by combining sweep picking technique with creative guitar phrasing ideas. In this article, I will show you how to do this and transform your lead guitar playing.
To use sweep picking as a tool that will 'enhance' the expression, you must avoid the following: only thinking about speed while playing sweep picking arpeggios. Why should you avoid this? When you only (and always) try to play an arpeggio lick as fast as you can, you sacrifice the musical quality of the lick for speed. The result of this is a continual stream of the same notes being played over and over - making your sweep picking licks sound like boring 'exercises' instead of awesome phrases. To play inspiring sweep picking arpeggios that demand the attention of others, you must play with speed and precision while ALSO building up an overwhelming feeling of tension.
With this in mind, I am now going to show you an exercise that will help you change any arpeggio into a powerful tool for expressing intensity in your guitar licks. That said, you don't have to be a master lead guitar player in order to use the idea I will be teaching you. Check out the sweep picking technique video below so you can quickly apply the ideas in the following exercise into your guitar playing.
OK, now that you have watched the entire video above, you are ready to complete the following steps to integrate what you learned into your sweep picking technique.
1. In this first step, pick out an arpeggio pattern that is easy for you to play at high speeds (while retaining as much accuracy as possible). Warm up by playing through this pattern several times.
2. Think of the names for each note that make up the arpeggio you picked from step one. For instance, if the arpeggio you picked was an Bb minor arpeggio, the notes would be Bb Db and F.
3. After watching the demonstration in the video, you found out that you can build powerful intensity by inserting silence before the next note in an arpeggio. While watching the video to see how this is done, play the arpeggio you picked from step one several times. Then after you have repeated the pattern enough times, immediately mute all the strings after you play the highest pitch of the arpeggio.
4. In this step, you will simply be 'waiting' a few moments in order to insert silence into your lick and begin building musical tension. As you are doing this, find one of the notes from the arpeggio you picked that is higher in pitch than the note you ended on in the previous step. Ex: If you picked a Bb minor arpeggio and you ended your phrase on 'F', find one of the other notes of the arpeggio (Bb, Db or F) that are higher in pitch on the fretboard. Do not play this note yet.
5. Next, play the note you selected from the previous step in order to release all the tension you built up. Finally, add incredible power to the entire phrase by using wide vibrato to accent this note. After doing this, you have successfully made a single variation of the sweep picking arpeggio pattern you began this exercise with.
6. Once you have completed steps one through five, you have created a new sweep picking lick (that is different from the original lick you started out with). Experiment with various new approaches by using the other phrasing ornamentations I demonstrated in the video above.
Then after you have come up with several new variations, choose a new arpeggio pattern and repeat the steps of this exercise. This will quickly help you become much more effective at playing creative, attention-grabbing sweep picking arpeggios. Combine the ideas of this article with the unique concept in this lead guitar video.
To learn more about building speed with arpeggios, visit this page to learn about building guitar speed.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.
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