Beginner Sweep Picking Guide To Help You Master Fast & Clean Arpeggios In No Time
Wish you could play sweep picking arpeggios fast and clean like your favorite players but just can't seem to make it work?
Don't worry, tons of guitarists struggle with this technique too.
However (as you will learn in this beginner sweep picking guide):
Sweep picking is actually not that hard when you understand the correct fundamentals you need to master to play fast and clean... effortlessly.
Once you understand these things, playing fast sweep picking arpeggios clean with consistency becomes second nature.
Ready to play amazing arpeggios like never before?
Watch this beginner sweep picking video guide to make massive improvement to your technique fast:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
Check other guitar playing videos, available to my YouTube subscribers - follow my channel by clicking the button below:
The video you watched helps you become much better at sweep picking whether you are a beginner learning the technique or simply someone looking to improve your skills.
Use the additional sweep picking advice below to reinforce good playing habits and master sweep picking even faster:
Sweep Picking Tip #1: Practice With Distortion & Clean Settings
Playing guitar arpeggios using distortion brings out subtle scratches, string noises and notes bleeding together so you can hear where your playing is breaking down. Use this to your advantage to identify and fix mistakes that hold you back.
Playing sweep picking arpeggios with clean settings helps you identify when your hands get out of sync.
To help keep your hands in sync better, try practicing the notes of an arpeggio by triple picking each note at a slower tempo as described in tip #1. Then return to playing the pattern with sweep picking as usual.
Sweep Picking Tip #2: Don't Rush The Notes In The Middle
Guitarists who are beginners at sweep picking commonly rush the middle notes of an arpeggio pattern while playing the higher and lower register notes clearly.
The rhythm of the guitar arpeggio becomes distorted and the arpeggio sounds sloppy.
Fortunately, this is not too hard to fix.
Here's what to do:
Play each note in the arpeggio you are practicing by triple picking it at a much slower tempo than usual.
This trains you to keep both hands in sync more effectively so that you are forced to focus on playing each note better. Once you return to sweep picking like normal, it feels much easier.
Make sure to also use this idea with any legato in any sweep picking arpeggio you play.
Focus on making every note ring out for the exact same amount of time.
Question: “Tom Hess, how much wrist do you use to play sweep picking arpeggios?”
Answer: The motion you use to play while sweep picking primarily comes from your forearm/shoulder (as shown in the video).
By sweep picking like this, it becomes harder to make the common mistake of picking each string individually. Avoiding this mistake is critical for playing fast and clean.
When you play a guitar arpeggio, you never want to break up your picking hand momentum.
The motion you use is similar to strumming a chord.
Make sure you are doing it correctly by watching your picking hand as you practice so you can fix any issues using both your ears and your eyes.
Sweep Picking Tip #3: Articulate Each Note Fully
Ever try to play a sweep picking arpeggio, but ended up cutting off the note you wanted to play by accident?
This is frustrating!
Why does this happen?
This usually happens when people try to stop notes from bleeding together.
Avoid this by muting strings at the precise moment when the next played note sounds.
Sweep Picking Tip #4: Maintain Consistent Note Rhythm
Keeping every note of your sweep picking arpeggio at the correct length is crucial for making it sound smooth and top-quality like the pros do (assuming you are practicing an arpeggio in all the same note rhythms).
Many guitarists accidentally play notes at slightly longer or shorter rhythms, making the arpeggio sound sloppy or just a little off.
Here's how to fix this issue:
Play the sweep picking arpeggio by starting very slow and gradually speeding up until you start to notice yourself making mistakes.
This will quickly show you which notes you are struggling to keep in time with the others.
Sweep Picking Tip #5: Focus On Your Picking Hand To Maintain Momentum
Here is an effective way to keep your picking hand momentum going in order to play clean sweep picking arpeggios with pull-offs and hammer-ons on the highest string(s):
As soon as you play a pull off on the highest string of a guitar arpeggio, your pick should be moving to the next string and not be getting caught in between strings. Prepare the note on the next string by pressing the pick against the next string so it is already waiting for you to fret the next note.
Note: Learning how to play sweep picking arpeggios on your own is much harder compared to learning with a teacher who can help you fix mistakes where you don't see them.
This is why I encourage you to start taking lessons with an experienced guitar teacher.
This is the most effective way to make fast progress, because an experienced guitar teacher helps you spot mistakes, fix old playing habits or think of new ways to master guitar that you wouldn't have thought of on your own.
When you are tired of making slow progress, taking lessons with a guitar teacher is the best thing you can do for your advancement.
I give lessons to thousands of guitar players around the world and help them make BIG progress not just with sweep picking, but in all other areas of their lead guitar playing.
Here are some of their results:
“When I first heard about Tom Hess, I saw that he was a teacher that was very dedicated and serious about it, and that drew me in immediately. That this is a guy that has a plan, has a goal and really if you’re serious about learning guitar, this guy is equally as serious in a way. So it resonated with me straight away.”
I started out just learning by myself and as many others I got stuck. I had a few issues I wanted to get by, but when I met Tom and talked with him and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what guitar playing can be.
I feel very grateful that I found lessons from Tom since I then did what worked from the very beginning. Many guitarists I see that played way longer than I did, they have build up many bad habits. That from the very start, there was clear instruction of how to practice correctly. You build the ability for high speed and whatever you want from the very beginning and you don’t waste time doing inefficient things. So I’m very grateful that I did that, and now I really feel I am able to reach whatever level I want.
The reasons why I think I feel so motivated all the time is because I know that the thing I’m working on is relevant for me and it’s exactly the direct thing I need to get.
The forum just kicks ass. The people in the forum - it’s just like unconditional help all the time. They love to help out, and you also get very inspired by seeing someone just really getting speed really quick and then you say if he can do it, I can do it. It works on the mental side of being a guitarist and that of course that’s the most important thing. Just being around other musicians like that, is just you learn so much faster, is so much less frustration when you can see that all the people are having the same issues that you do, not anything special or anything. It’s just part of learning process, so it kicks ass.
Magnus Gautestad, Norway
“I found Tom Hess on the net through articles, and I read quite a few of those before I went to Tom’s website. Even though I’m not a metal player at all, and Tom is obviously a metal player, I could still see that his ideas and way of teaching could really benefit me. So I pretty much signed up for online guitar lessons with Tom straight away once I’d gone through the website, and it’s just been a real eye opener with the way he teaches…”
... the integration of concepts that he’ll give you and having a really structured strategy… not just week to week lessons, but things that - you can see from one lesson to the next - really develop and continue to work on your technique and your theory and aural skills and those types of things. So I’d played a long time… 20 years before I really caught onto Tom, and I’d had a lot of lessons, and I’d taught and played but I can really see improvements in my technique, sweeping, and picking which weren’t strong parts of my playing.
I feel like Tom has a good gauge of where you’re at as a guitar player and what you need, and there just seemed to be so much more stuff in the lessons week to week than what you’d ever get in an hour or so in a one on one lesson… way more. So yeah I think that and the forum. I think, I’d pay the money just for the forum. That alone would be fine… I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. So that alone is massive!
The price for the lessons, that’s nothing... nothing. You know, I think it’s, pretty cheap to be honest. I don’t mean that in a bad way, cheap. Cheap is not a good word, but I just think it’s great value… awesome value. I mean, you know, you could pay that for one-to-one lessons and you just don’t get the same results and support of the forum and the content and the strategies.
Other teachers I’ve had have been good players, and some have become good friends too. But when I’ve started lessons with Tom I’ve got something to compare that to and a lot of it is just sort of teaching songs from week to week… a lot of the lesson will be left up to you… you’ll go to your lesson and they’ll be like what do you want to do today? At the time I said, oh do this song or that song, but with Tom you start to realize that you know, there’s more to it… the goals and you know he’s sort of more in contact with what you want to be able to do as a player, because he’s asking you the questions and then setting up the strategies, so I find that really good.
Yeah I can see more results in 18 months in a lot of areas in my playing than you know 20 years. So it’s sort of, you know, would’ve been great 20 years ago to have met Tom.
Simon Candy, Melbourne, Australia
"When I came to Tom for online guitar lessons, I already had a decent overall level of technique and understood the basics of music theory pretty well. I had taken lessons with other teachers before, and went through several guitar method books that promised to teach me how to become a great lead guitar player. I learned all the materials in these books and courses and picked up some useful tips and knowledge along the way. Yet for some reason I still wasn't feeling like a musician. I struggled very much with writing my own songs, creating my own solos and pushing my guitar technique and speed to a higher level (especially sweep picking, alternate picking, and playing clean at high speeds).
When I started learning from Tom, the main thing that made him different from other teachers was that he was showing me how to excel in all aspects of my guitar playing by applying the skills that I already knew together with the new material that I was learning from him.
He made me aware of both strengths and weaknesses in my playing that I did not even know I had. From there he gave me the knowledge, tools and guidance to literally transform my guitar playing by enabling me to overcome things that were preventing me from becoming a truly creative and self-expressive guitar player. These were the kinds of things that none of my previous guitar teachers and books I studied were able to do for me.
After Tom made me aware of all the things I was missing in my guitar playing and provided me with the strategy and tools for solving them, I began to make very fast progress in all areas of my guitar playing.
I can now write my own music and can create lead guitar solos that I am happy and fulfilled with. I also have the technical skills to confidently and easily play anything that I want to express. I have overcome all of the lead guitar challenges that I struggled with before, and increased my guitar speed to virtuoso levels. More importantly, I have the knowledge and understanding of how to continually improve my guitar playing and musical skills to higher and higher levels to continue expressing myself with my music. Overall, I have definitely transformed in a huge way as a musician and as a person through my lessons with Tom Hess. I am grateful to him for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!"
Mike Philippov, Indiana, USA
Learning to play fast sweep picking guitar arpeggios awesome, but there is much more to learn - Take your lead guitar playing to the highest level by taking electric guitar lessons online. Click the green 'Start Now' button to begin: