Learn How To Sweep Pick Clean And Fast Using This Practice Method


Hearing subtle mistakes while playing sweep picking arpeggios is more difficult while playing at faster speeds. It is much easier to ensure that every note in the pattern is played perfectly by choosing a single note in the pattern, then listening for it as you play. This trains your ear to listen more closely for mistakes and helps you play more cleanly at higher speeds.

Watch the sweep picking video below and learn how this is done, so you can quickly clean up your arpeggios:

Click on the video to begin watching it.

 

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Here are the most important sweep picking elements to focus on if you want to sweep pick cleanly & fast:


Sweep Picking Element #1: Fretting And Picking Hand Biomechanics

Guitar speed (and sweep picking speed) have nothing to do with “moving fast”.

Speed is a byproduct of efficiency.

And that means:

Your pick and fretting hand fingers shouldn’t move any more than they absolutely have to.

So, how do you train this skill?

Simple - practice each hand’s motions in isolation without using the other hand at all.

For example:

Spend 5 minutes repeating the motions of some arpeggio with the fretting hand only.

(Do NOT use the picking hand when doing this step.).

Then spend another 5 minutes only practicing the picking hand motion (while muting the strings with the fretting hand).

 
Sweep Picking Element #2: Two-Hand Synchronization

Synchronization is the glue that holds your hands together when you play guitar.

When you lack synchronization, one hand often moves a bit slower or faster than the other.

This makes your sweep picking very sloppy.

Here are a few simple ways to get your hands in sync:

  1. Increase your picking hand articulation. This means to make the notes louder. The more powerful your articulation – the tighter your synchronization becomes. You cannot articulate the notes clearly if your hands are not in sync.
     
  2. Use a stiff guitar pick (that doesn't flex when you play). If your pick flexes while playing, it needs to return to its neutral state before each note.

This delay disrupts your synchronization. To avoid this, use guitar picks that are at least 1.0 mm thick.
 

Sweep Picking Element #3: String Noise Control

Let's be honest:

No one likes the sound of sloppy guitar playing or sloppy sweep picking. So how can you improve your guitar technique and play guitar clean? 

The first thing to know is: Sloppy guitar playing is rarely caused by the notes you want to hear.

Sloppy playing is most often caused by: unwanted guitar string noise.

There are 2 types of unwanted guitar string noise:

  • Unwanted guitar string noise from lower (in pitch) strings.
  • Unwanted guitar string noise from the higher (in pitch) strings.

There is more than 1 way to mute guitar strings. However: some methods offer advantages that others do not.

The most effective method of muting the lower (in pitch) strings is:

Thumb muting!

What is thumb muting?

It’s where you rest your picking hand’s thumb on the lower (thicker) strings. Then you slide the thumb up and down as you sweep pick, to kill the string noise.

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 sweep picking. Slide the pick from the side of your finger onto the pad of the finger. Hold the pick like this for all your sweep picking exercises.

This not only helps with your guitar speed, but also makes your sweep picking 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.

Enter: fretting hand index finger muting. And like thumb muting, it works on all guitar exercises.

What you do is touch the thinner strings with the fretting hand index finger, like this: 
 

muting excess guitar string noise

Use index finger mute with thumb muting on all your sweep picking drills and guitar exercises.  

These techniques make your fast sweep picking much cleaner and help you avoid sloppy-sounding arpeggios. 


Sweep Picking Element #4: Master Fretting Hand Finger Rolling

Finger rolling is a technique you use to play more than one note on the same fret on several strings…

… with the same finger.

Finger rolling guitar arpeggios come in many shapes that you play on guitar (and in some scale sequences too).

The hardest part about playing finger rolling guitar arpeggios is separating the notes and not letting them bleed together.

Many guitarists (even those who play scales at eye-popping speeds) struggle with this technique and avoid it as much as they can.

But fear not:

You are about to learn a simple, almost fail-safe way to master finger rolling guitar arpeggios.

It works even if you’ve struggled with it for a long time.

Watch this finger rolling video to see how it’s done. 

Now you know how to make your sweep picking faster and cleaner. The next step is to improve the rest of your guitar playing. I mean everything from your guitar technique to musical knowledge, ear training and creativity, so you finally can…

… put it all together and become a real musician!

If you want some help with that, I can guide you through the process inside my Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.

Here is how it works:

1. You tell me about your guitar playing strengths & weaknesses, as well as your musical background and goals.

2. I create a personalized guitar lesson strategy and your lesson materials.

3. You practice (with my support every step of the way) to help you transform your playing and reach your goals. 

Here is what some of my guitar students are saying: 

 


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