3 Ways To Improve Your Sweep Picking – Even If You Are Stuck Right Now
By Tom Hess
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So, you want to sweep pick fast?
Rip arpeggios up and down the fretboard?
And do it cleanly - without sloppy string noise?
You’ve come to the right place.
It took me a long time to crack the mystery of fast & accurate sweep picking. But once I did - it became easy.
(And I helped hundreds of my students master sweep picking as well.)
This article shows you the most important things that go into mastering sweep picking.
- what to focus on in your picking & fretting hands to sweep pick fast and clean… as well as:
- top mistakes to avoid that slow down your progress.
You do it without practicing 8 hours per day.
To begin, watch this video on how to set yourself up for success with sweep picking:
Now that you know the basics, let’s go deeper.
There are 3 mistakes guitarists make most often when sweep picking.
Mistake #1: “Stop-N-Go” Sweep Picking.
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It means stopping the pick between strings as you play arpeggios & losing all the momentum you need to sweep pick fast.
(For some reason, this happens most often when ascending from the lowest in pitch string to the highest string.)
It often happens even if you move the pick the way I show in the video.
And this mistake is the #1 cause of slow & sloppy sweep picking.
What is the solution?
Push through the strings in one motion when you ascend the arpeggio. And pull the hand back when descending (towards the lower strings).Watch this video to see how it’s done:
Mistake #2: Sweep Picking With A Clean Tone.
That’s right. You want to practice sweep picking with distortion most of the time (not clean tone).
“But Tom Hess! Doesn't distortion cover up mistakes? Isn’t it better to use a clean tone???” - No.
Distortion makes sloppy playing much more obvious. This is especially true for notes that bleed (ring) together.
Bleeding sounds barely noticeable with a clean tone. You may play for years and never know just how sloppy your playing is until you turn on distortion.
Watch this guitar technique video by guitar practice expert Mike Philippov where he explains this in detail.
Question: “Tom Hess, is it ever a good idea to use a clean tone for practicing?”
Answer: Sometimes. If you have very weak articulation, playing with a clean tone (or practicing unplugged) can help fix that. That said, weak articulation is rarely an issue for sweep picking.
Mistake #3: Distorted Rhythm
Fast (and clean) sweep arpeggios sound great. You know what doesn't sound great? Rushing the pull off at the top of the arpeggio.
This is called: “distorted rhythm” and it’s a common issue I see and correct all the time with my guitar students.Watch this video to see what I mean:
Why is it such a problem?
You end up playing different parts of the arpeggio at different speeds. This makes it much harder to sweep pick fast (because you have to speed up and slow down in the middle of the arpeggio).
You now have a great foundation for clean & fast sweep picking. The next step is to learn 5 sweep picking mastery secrets anyone (including you) can use to sweep pick faster & cleaner.
Want to learn them for free? Download this free sweep picking eGuide and get on the fast track to sweep picking the way you’ve always wanted.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.Improve your guitar playing with the best online lessons for guitar.