How to Sweep Pick on Guitar

Hi everyone and welcome back! In this article we’ll be continuing our journey into the subject of sweep picking with particular focus on the movement that lots of players tend to have trouble with: the ‘inside’ picking movement.

The majority of players that I have spoken to regarding negotiating string crossing when picking all seem to have trouble mastering the ‘inside’ picking movement of the right hand. The reasons for this really do depend on each individual player with individual guitar but looking at the movement itself, it becomes clear why it would represent a challenge in the majority of cases. Essentially, it’s all to do with the movement of the right hand.

Neal Schon – Journey Man

Guitar Collection: Oscar Schmidt – Kay K-136 & Maccaferri G-30

With the ‘inside’ picking movement, the right hand is always travelling in the opposite direction to which it needs to travel to reach the appropriate string with the appropriate stroke. For instance, if we are making a transition between the top E and B strings, the down stroke played on the top E should be followed with an upstroke on the B string.

With this in mind, it’s clear that with the downstroke, the right hand is travelling away from the intended target string, in this case the B string. Therefore, the player has to stop the right hand from travelling to move it in the correct direction toward the B string with an upstroke. This is a very unnatural movement for the right hand and is probably why most players find it an awkward movement to perform with accuracy. By contrast, the outside’ movement allows the right hand to move in the SAME direction that it needs to move to in order to reach the appropriate string.

In this article then, I’d like to share with you some ideas I use to solidify my ‘inside’ picking technique in conjunction with sweep picking technique.

One very effective method I use is to practice using one note per string arpeggios. Usually, sweep picked arpeggios involve the use of several notes on the low and high end of the arpeggio.

In this instance we will be playing one note per string, which allows us to insert an inside movement on the low and high end of the arpeggio. You’ll no doubt find this particularly challenging to pull off especially at higher speeds but, as always, only concentrate on building the speed when you feel ready to do so.

The arpeggios that I tend to use with this technique are played across 5 strings with the root on the 5th string. I like to play the arpeggios as 7th arpeggios rather than triads as it usually precludes having to barre across the same fret and also sounds a little more colourful. Also, you’ll find that with these patterns you’ll need to work on the left hand position shifts as they can be quite challenging, especially for the index finger of the left hand.

Once you have the basic 7th shapes down, it’s a useful idea to apply them to diatonic 7th chords. Please be sure to study the accompanying tab to learn the patterns I play in the lesson video.

As always, make sure you practice with efficient right and left hand movements and only start pushing the speed when you feel ready to do so.

That’s it for now. Be sure to practice hard and I’ll see you all in the next article!

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