How To Play Awesome Guitar Arpeggios Without Playing Fast

It is a mistake to think that all guitar arpeggios must be played at your maximum speed in order to make them sound good. This will ultimately limit your creative options and make your sweep picking sound boring if you overdo it. Don't limit yourself to this single approach: play sweep picking arpeggios in creative ways to transform them into great sounding music.

Watch this sweep picking video to learn several new ways to make any guitar arpeggio sound awesome without playing fast:

Click on the video to begin watching it.


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The best way to implement the ideas from this video into your guitar playing is to improve your sweep picking technique. And here are some tips to help you do just that:

Sweep Picking Tip #1: Pay Attention To Sweep Picking Biomechanics.

Believe it or not…

Sweep picking is a pretty simple guitar technique. However… to master it, you need to pay attention a few key details. 

These details are: 

Picking hand motions: the secret to fast and clean sweep picking is all in your picking hand. You don’t have to move your hand fast to sweep pick fast. What you need to do is:

… move your pick in a single motion in each direction. For any arpeggio you play, your pick should only make TWO motions:

One motion to ascend and one motion to descend.

It doesn't matter if the arpeggio is played on 2 strings, 3 strings, 4 strings, 5 strings, 6, 7 or even 8 strings. 

The number of motions don’t change.

How can that be? 

Simple: You push your pick through the strings to ascend the arpeggio. And pull the hand (and the pick) back to descend. Think of hitting several balls in baseball with one strike of the baseball bat.

(The balls are your guitar strings and the bat is the guitar pick in this analogy.)

Now, compare sweep picking motions with:

  • Tremolo picking (picking 1 note really fast)
  • String skipping (where your pick jumps over 1 or more strings)
  • Playing a regular scale
  • Playing fast rhythm guitar riffs (with all downstrokes)

...and you’ll see that your pick moves a lot more (and a lot faster) to play these techniques compared to sweep picking.

Sweep Picking Tip #2: Mute Excess String Noise

Let’s be honest: sloppy sweep picking never sounds good. No matter how fast it is.

What’s the best way to mute string noise in your arpeggios?

My #1, go-to string noise killer is:

...thumb muting. 

(It works on all guitar exercises, not just sweep picking.)

Here is what it is and how it helps you play arpeggios better:

Rest your picking hand’s thumb on the strings and slide it up and down the strings as you play your guitar exercises. 

It looks like this: 

Muting guitar string with thumb finger

And besides making your sweep picking clean, it also helps make your guitar technique more efficient. That’s because with thumb muting, your pick must stay down in the trenches of the strings when you play guitar exercises. 

This makes your motions way more efficient and helps your sweep picking improve much faster. 

As an aside, the reason I don’t mute string noise using my palm is because it makes your guitar picking less efficient.

Here is how:

With palm muting, your palm is at rest with the pick outside the string trench. This makes your guitar picking motions less efficient and hurts your guitar speed in big ways.

Question: “Tom Hess, when I practice guitar picking drills with thumb muting, I hear a lot of pinch harmonics on all my guitar exercises. What can I do?”

Answer: Change the way you hold the pick when you work on your picking speed. Slide the pick from the side of your finger onto the pad. Hold the pick like this for all guitar exercises.

This not only helps with your sweep picking speed, but also makes your picking speed a lot cleaner (by making thumb muting possible).

That said, as good as thumb muting is for cleaning up your guitar picking technique…

…it only mutes excess string noise from the lower (in pitch) strings in your guitar exercises.

And that means:

You need another way to mute string noise from the higher (in pitch) strings in your picking speed licks.

The best way to do that is with the underside of the index finger of your fretting hand. 

Just like it sounds, you rest the finger on the strings to keep them quiet. Do NOT push on the strings, just rest the finger on them.

Here is what it looks like:

Muting guitar string with fingerprint side

Sweep Picking Tip #3: Control The Rhythm Of The Hammer Ons And Pull Offs In Each Arpeggio

Play all notes in every arpeggio at a consistent speed. Don’t make the hammer ons or pull offs faster than the other notes. (This is a common mistake guitar players make that keeps their arpeggio playing very sloppy.)

Now that you know how to make your arpeggio playing sound fast & clean, the next step is to transform the rest of your guitar playing. I'm talking about your other guitar techniques and musical skills that you need to transform your playing into something you can feel proud of. 

I can help you with that in my personalized Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.

Here is how it works:

You tell me everything about your guitar playing strengths, weaknesses, musical background, and musical goals. I then create your personalized guitar lesson strategy. As you practice your lessons, I give you a ton of feedback to help you master your guitar lessons and reach your musical goals.

Here are the results my guitar students are getting:



To begin getting similar results in your guitar playing too, click the green “Start Now” button below. 

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