How To Play Intense Sweep Picking Arpeggio Licks That Grab People By The Throat

by Tom Hess


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Does playing a sweep picking arpeggio sound more like ‘exercises’ than actual ‘music’ when you solo? Do you want to transform your sweep picking technique into a powerful tool for adding fire and bone-crushing intensity to your lead guitar licks? Truth is, you CAN do these things (without being an ‘expert’ at sweep picking), and I will show you how to do them in this article.

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endless killer arpeggio guitar licks
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The first step for using sweep picking to add incredible intensity to your guitar phrases is avoiding the common mistake of only trying to play them as fast as possible. Why? By focusing ‘only’ on playing as fast as possible, any sweep picking arpeggio becomes boring and repetitive when you play solos or lead guitar licks because you never actually learned how to use sweep picking technique in a ‘musical’ manner. To truly add fire to your sweep picking, you must not only be able to correctly play the actual sweep picking arpeggio patterns, but use your technique to create tension – leaving anyone listening on the edge of their seat.

I will now show you how to easily transform any boring, lifeless sweep picking arpeggio pattern into an awe-inspiring, intense phrase that is guaranteed to grab the attention of anyone listening.

You do NOT need to be ‘highly advanced’ with sweep picking in order to use the concept I will be showing you. However, before you continue reading, watch this video about sweep picking arpeggios so you can see and hear ‘exactly’ how to use the main ideas I will be discussing in the sweep picking exercise below.

The video will help you to integrate the ideas of the sweep picking exercise into your lead guitar playing faster and easier. Click on the link above and watch the video now before continuing.

Now that you've watched the video, follow these steps in this sweep picking exercise to learn how to create a powerful and intense sweep picking arpeggio.

Sweep Picking Exercise Step 1: Choose any 3 string sweep picking arpeggio pattern that you can play cleanly. Then, play through the pattern several times.

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Sweep Picking Exercise Step 2: Identify the note names that make up the arpeggio you are playing. For example, if you chose an “A diminished 7th” arpeggio in step 1, this arpeggio contains the notes A, C, Eb and Gb.

Sweep Picking Exercise Step 3: As you learned by watching to the video above, you can create incredible tension by delaying the arrival of the next note in an arpeggio. Using the video as a demonstration for this sweep picking exercise, play through your 3 string arpeggio several times as fast as you can while playing cleanly. Then, once you have played through several repetitions, ‘abruptly’ stop after playing the highest (in pitch) note of the arpeggio.

Sweep Picking Exercise Step 4: Next, locate any other note in the same arpeggio that is higher in pitch than the note you ended on in step 3. DON’T ‘play’ the note yet - only ‘find’ it on guitar. For example, if you chose to use an A diminished 7th arpeggio in step 1 and the highest note in your sweep picking pattern is a ‘C’ note on the 8th fret of the high E string, locate (but DON’T play yet!) any of the other notes of the A diminished 7th arpeggio that occur higher than that ‘C’ note. In this step you are simply ‘waiting’ - making the listeners ‘suffer’ and building massive tension by suddenly inserting silence into your playing.

Sweep Picking Exercise Step 5: After waiting several moments, play the additional note you just identified (releasing the tension caused by the delay) in step 4. Then instantly make the entire sweep picking arpeggio sound more intense and powerful by applying vibrato to this note. You have now created a single variation of the original sweep picking arpeggio from step 1.

Sweep Picking Exercise Step 6: Come up with several more creative variations by delaying the vibrato of the final note and using slide ornaments as I demonstrated in the video above. Once you have come up with several new variations, choose a new sweep picking arpeggio pattern and repeat the previous steps. To see lots of additional examples of how to create variations on only ‘one’ note in your guitar phrases, watch this guitar licks video.

After going through this sweep picking exercise many times, you will master the ability to play a powerful sweep picking arpeggio that grabs the attention of others.

To get more help with building your guitar playing speed so that you can better apply the arpeggio phrasing ideas from this article, study this free mini course on how to play guitar fast.



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