Economy Picking

Introduction

Problem.
Most guitar players think the basis of real speed is a good fret hand (generally: left hand) technique. If your left hand is fast, you will be able to play fast. So, many players train mainly their left hand, and the right hand is kind of left behind. Players who then discover that they need to improve their pick hand (generally: right hand) technique, go to their favorite guitar webpage (U-G.com), only to discover very little information (or lots of information scattered all over the entire webpage) about a better and faster right hand technique.

An example: the lesson “All The Aspects Of Picking,” concludes that a picking technique called “economy picking” is the best and fastest picking style. I found this lesson very informative, because I already knew what economy picking actually is. After reading this lesson, I immediately started practising economy picking, and in a couple of days, I succeded in playing fragments of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Blitzkrieg! A little slower than himself, but still… I noticed, however, that players who don’t know what economy picking is, can’t learn a damn thing from this otherwise very informative lesson!

Solution.
I’ve gathered a lot of information scattered all over various lessons on UG, added some of my own experiences from my last week of intensive “economy training”, and out of all this information I’ve created this lesson, for all you players who want to play real fast but don’t know how! Believe me, a week ago, I was one of you. This is a guide to the best and fastest right hand picking technique: economy picking, the key to real speed!

What Is Economy Picking

As I have already said, economy picking is the best picking technique there is. It’s fast, it looks mighty fine, and it requires very little effort (once you have mastered it of course). But to experience the comfort of economy picking, you must first understand the concept of it. To keep a long story short: economy picking is a mixture of firstly, alternate picking, and secondly, sweep picking. Now the explanation of these two techniques:

1. Alternate Picking.
A basic technique. Most of you players will be familiar with it (unless you’re still a beginning player). Alternate picking means: constantly switching between down- and upstrokes with your pick (to make things easier: down-up-down-up-down-up-…) This technique doubles the speed you reach by only down- or upstroking.

2. Sweep Picking.
This is a more advanced technique, used to play notes that are on strings next to each other (like arpeggios, see arpeggio lessons), rather than notes on the same string. You actually “sweep” your pick over the strings, as if you were strumming a chord, but you don’t let the notes ring as if you were playing a chord. You play each note individually (if you still don’t understand the concept of sweep picking, I refer to one of the sweep picking lessons on UG).

Now that you know both techniques, you might ask the question: how is economy picking related to these techniques? To answer this question, I will use a small exercise as an example. Firstly, I will show you how this pattern would be played if you used alternate picking (like most guitar players).

d = downstroke
u = upstroke

 

   d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u
E|-------------------------------0-0-0-|
B|-------------------------0-0-0-------|
G|-------------------0-0-0-------------|
D|-------------0-0-0-------------------|
A|-------0-0-0-------------------------|
E|-0-0-0-------------------------------|

You can see clearly, you constantly alternate between down- and upstrokes. Now I will show you the same pattern, played with economy picking:

 

   d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d
E|-------------------------------0-0-0-|
B|-------------------------0-0-0-------|
G|-------------------0-0-0-------------|
D|-------------0-0-0-------------------|
A|-------0-0-0-------------------------|
E|-0-0-0-------------------------------|

Like alternate picking, economy picking consists of alternating down- and upstrokes, except when changing strings. You use the “sweeping” motion for this: if you move a string down (e.g. from the 6th to the 5th string), you use downstrokes (for the sweeping motion, use your wrist movement)รพ If moving up, you use all upstrokes, like this:

 

   u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
E|-0-0-0-------------------------------|
B|-------0-0-0-------------------------|
G|-------------0-0-0-------------------|
D|-------------------0-0-0-------------|
A|-------------------------0-0-0-------|
E|-------------------------------0-0-0-|

Practise these patters as much as you can, and try to play the notes as even as possible. Many players who start practising economy picking complain that the notes sound uneven or that it doesn’t go faster than alternate picking. Believe me, it does. You just have to master it properly to play even and fast (don’t go and try to master it in one week like me! I don’t want to brag but I usually get the hang of things very quickly, so take your time. Try to do it properly instead of trying to do it quickly).

Exercises

Now that you know what economy picking is, you can grab your guitar and start exercising. I don’t like to do exercises myself, but I do them anyway. And that’s what you should do, if you want to master economy picking and play real fast real easy! I will give a couple of exercises as examples, but you can of course invent your own exercises if you want! Or play existing songs as an exercise (like I usually do).

Exercise Set #1

 

   d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d
E|-------------------------------0-0-0-|
B|-------------------------0-0-0-------|
G|-------------------0-0-0-------------|
D|-------------0-0-0-------------------|
A|-------0-0-0-------------------------|
E|-0-0-0-------------------------------|

   u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
E|-0-0-0-------------------------------|
B|-------0-0-0-------------------------|
G|-------------0-0-0-------------------|
D|-------------------0-0-0-------------|
A|-------------------------0-0-0-------|
E|-------------------------------0-0-0-|

These are the patterns I used above. I repeat them because they are so important: before playing anything fast, use these exercises (and the exercises below) as a warmup! You should use Exercise Set 1 to train speed, and to play every note evenly and smoothly.Exercise Set #2

 

   d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d
E|-------------------------------5-6-5-|
B|-------------------------5-6-5-------|
G|-------------------5-6-5-------------|
D|-------------5-6-5-------------------|
A|-------5-6-5-------------------------|
E|-5-6-5-------------------------------|

   u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
E|-5-6-5-------------------------------|
B|-------5-6-5-------------------------|
G|-------------5-6-5-------------------|
D|-------------------5-6-5-------------|
A|-------------------------5-6-5-------|
E|-------------------------------5-6-5-|

   d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d
E|-------------------------------5-7-5-|
B|-------------------------5-7-5-------|
G|-------------------5-7-5-------------|
D|-------------5-7-5-------------------|
A|-------5-7-5-------------------------|
E|-5-7-5-------------------------------|

   u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
E|-5-7-5-------------------------------|
B|-------5-7-5-------------------------|
G|-------------5-7-5-------------------|
D|-------------------5-7-5-------------|
A|-------------------------5-7-5-------|
E|-------------------------------5-7-5-|

   d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d
E|-------------------------------5-8-5-|
B|-------------------------5-8-5-------|
G|-------------------5-8-5-------------|
D|-------------5-8-5-------------------|
A|-------5-8-5-------------------------|
E|-5-8-5-------------------------------|

   u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
E|-5-8-5-------------------------------|
B|-------5-8-5-------------------------|
G|-------------5-8-5-------------------|
D|-------------------5-8-5-------------|
A|-------------------------5-8-5-------|
E|-------------------------------5-8-5-|

These exercises are based on the first exercise set, but I added left hand fingerings too. The exercises in Set 2 are therefore used to train the synchronous movement of fret and pick hand. This is very important if you want to play fast! Do these exercises every day!Note: you might have noticed that in every exercise, there are 3 notes per string. This is because economy picking is easier when playing an odd number of notes per string. When you have to play an even number of notes, use 1 (or 3, or 5, …) hammer-ons or pull-offs, so that you have to do an odd number of picks. Example:

H = hammer-on
P = pull-off

 

   d u d H d u d H d u d H d u d H d u d H d u d H
E|-----------------------------------------5-6-5-6-|
B|---------------------------------5-6-5-6---------|
G|-------------------------5-6-5-6-----------------|
D|-----------------5-6-5-6-------------------------|
A|---------5-6-5-6---------------------------------|
E|-5-6-5-6-----------------------------------------|

   d u d P d u d P d u d P d u d P d u d P d u d P
E|-----------------------------------------6-5-6-5-|
B|---------------------------------6-5-6-5---------|
G|-------------------------6-5-6-5-----------------|
D|-----------------6-5-6-5-------------------------|
A|---------6-5-6-5---------------------------------|
E|-6-5-6-5-----------------------------------------|

So, in these two exercises, there are 4 notes per string, but you do only 3 picks per string, and 1 hammer-on/pull-off.

Speed

Economy picking is the key factor of speed. But still, there are guitar players using economy who still aren’t able to play fast. Why is that? Is it because of a slow left hand? Or is there still a problem with their picking technique? As I’ve already said, the left hand is usually more than fast enought. You can try this yourself: give your right arm a rest, and use only your left hand. Try to play a fast guitar riff (for example, a major scale, see scales lessons) with only your left hand. You don’t have to hear the notes: just try to get the left hand fingerings right. It goes much faster than you would be able to play with both hands, doesn’t it? This means, there’s still a problem with the right hand picking technique. I Will explain these issues in the following sections.

What Part Of The Pick Is Used To Pick With

The pick is approximately 3 cm long and 2, 5 cm wide. You use the sharp pointed side to pick the strings with. I guess many people are rolling on the floor laughing their asses off while reading this. I know, it’s the basic of all basics, but there’s more. You know that you have to pick with the sharp edge of the pick, but do you know what part of the pick actually touches the string, in order to achieve maximum speed? The trick is to touch the strings with the tip of the pick. I mean, the very tip of the pick. Only the slightest touch of the string with the pick is enough to produce a clear sound. Most players really “pluck” the strings with their picks, mostly because their right arm muscles are overstrained. If you relax, you will find this subtle string touching much easier!

Knowing this, and combining it with economy picking, allows you to play real fast! Economy is based on smooth right hand movement, but if you “pluck” your strings instead of just slightly touching them, this smooth movement is impossible. So, relax, touch your strings slightly instead of plucking them, and you will play fast in no time!

Pick Angle

When alternate picking, the pick stands straight up (seen from the surface of the guitar body). But when “sweeping” up or down, your pick should be held at a certain angle, so that you don’t “pluck” the strings as I have described in the previous section. When moving down, the sharp edge of the pick should point slightly up. When moving up, the sharp edge of the pick should point slightly down. To hold your pick at an angle, use your wrist movement.

Why is this? Well, if you hold your pick at the described angle while moving over the strings, you “stroke” them instead of plucking them, resulting in a much smoother movement. And like I’ve already said: economy picking is based on a smooth right hand movement.

Note: when moving up, the sharp edge of your pick should point down. This may feel uncomfortable for your wrists at first, but after some exercising it shouldn’t be a problem.

A Speed Riff

As a conclusion, I’m going to let you play the riff that I’ve played for so many times now, the riff that I have used to learn economy picking. It’s a fragment out of Malmsteen’s Blitzkrieg.

 

E|----------------------------------|----------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------|----------------------------------|
G|----------------------3-2---------|----------------------5-4---------|
D|----2-5-3-2---------2-----5-3-2---|----3-7-5-3---------4-----7-5-4---|
A|--3---------5-3-2-4-------------4-|--5---------7-5-4-6-------------6-|
E|----------------------------------|----------------------------------|

|----------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------|---------------------------------------|
|----------------------7-6---------|-------------------------9-8-----------|
|----6-9-7-6---------6-----9-7-6---|----7-11-9-7-----------8-----11-9-8----|
|--7---------9-7-6-8-------------8-|--9----------11-9-8-10--------------10-|
|----------------------------------|---------------------------------------|

|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------11-10-------------|
|-----10-13-11-10-------------10-------13-11-10----|
|--11-------------13-11-10-12-------------------12-|
|--------------------------------------------------|

|--------------------------------------------------|------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|------------|
|--------------------------------13-12-------------|------------|
|-----11-15-13-11-------------12-------15-13-12----|------------|
|--13-------------15-13-12-14-------------------14-|-15~--------|
|--------------------------------------------------|------------|

Note: I’m not adding right hand fingerings, you should be able to find out for yourself by now!

Conclusion

I would like to thank the players who have made the lessons before me; they have taught me a lot and they made this lesson possible. To all players who have learned from this lesson: I hope my lesson was of some use to you all, and I hope many people will learn from it and maybe write their own lessons about it someday!

All The Aspects Of Picking. Part 2

If you didn’t yet read the first lesson please do so before moving on to this one. There was a great response from the first lesson on picking and technique, so I decided to submit part II and elaborate somewhat on the economy side of things.

I have gotten countless e-mails asking about the specifics of economy picking and some people seemed a little confused.

Economy picking has one simple rule: When you move to a new string ALWAYS pick “into” or twards the string (if your moving to a string closer to the floor pick down. If your moving to a string closer to your face or the sky, then pick up) this goes for adjacent strings as well as skipping strings.

So, economy picking is basically just a rule that whenever you move to a new string while playing anything, you pick in the direction of that new string instead of going under the string and picking up, or instead of going over the string and picking down. This way it uses the kenetic energy already established with the last picking motion used. In other words, it saves time and energy, which means faster playing with less effort, physical effort that is. It does require a lot of mental work to get used to this type of picking.

Here is an example to make sure everyone gets it right this time. I feel bad for not explaining it in more detail on the last lesson:

d= downpick to the ground
u= uppick to the sky

If you were to play this using alternate picking the ups and down picks would work this way if you started on a downstroke…

 

|-------------------------------3-4-5---------------------------------|
|-------------------------3-4-5-------3-4-5---------------------------|
|-------------------3-4-5-------------------3-4-5---------------------|
|-------------3-4-5-------------------------------3-4-5---------------|
|-------3-4-5-------------------------------------------3-4-5---------|
|-3-4-5-------------------------------------------------------3-4-5---|
  d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d

Now I will underline where you are wasting energy by moving around the string just to keep with the alternate picking pattern.

 

|-------------------------------3-4-5---------------------------------|
|-------------------------3-4-5-------3-4-5---------------------------|
|-------------------3-4-5-------------------3-4-5---------------------|
|-------------3-4-5-------------------------------3-4-5---------------|
|-------3-4-5-------------------------------------------3-4-5---------|
|-3-4-5-------------------------------------------------------3-4-5---|
  d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d

Now I will write the down and up strokes how they would be for economy picking and underline the spots where picking will be easier and faster than economy (based on the laws of physics, which seem to superseed the laws of “but this cool guitarist does it this way” etc).

 

|-------------------------------3-4-5---------------------------------|
|-------------------------3-4-5-------3-4-5---------------------------|
|-------------------3-4-5-------------------3-4-5---------------------|
|-------------3-4-5-------------------------------3-4-5---------------|
|-------3-4-5-------------------------------------------3-4-5---------|
|-3-4-5-------------------------------------------------------3-4-5---|
  d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
  - - - - - - - - - - * - - - - - - - -

In this one above I marked off with an * where there is wasted motion, because of the ammount of notes on this string. But that could easily be fixed by placing the note that is causing the problem on the next string and only having 2 notes on the high e string, or simply add a note so it’s 4 notes, like this:

 

|-------------------------------3-4-5-0---------------------------------|
|-------------------------3-4-5---------3-4-5---------------------------|
|-------------------3-4-5---------------------3-4-5---------------------|
|-------------3-4-5---------------------------------3-4-5---------------|
|-------3-4-5---------------------------------------------3-4-5---------|
|-3-4-5---------------------------------------------------------3-4-5---|
  d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d d u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u u d u
  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Now every underlined note is economical and uses the least posible energy and time while playing, hence making it faster because an object in motion tends to stay in motion, also the shortest distance is a straight line, etc. So I hope those examples help you out if not here is one last version in short:

 

|------3| |------3|
|3-5-7--| |3-5-7--|
 d u d u   d u d d

And for all the wise asses who say “but that’s only starting on a downstroke,” ok then here it is starting on an upstroke:

 

|------3| |----2-3|
|3-5-7--| |3-5----|
 u d u d   u d d u

See how there is always a way to make it economical.The trouble with economy is that a lot of players starting out on it usually play a little loose time wise on the string changes or with a picking that’s either too loud or too soft. So make sure to pay good attention to the tempo and dynamics of your string changes in economy.

The exercises you used for alternate picking can and should be repracticed using economy. I suggest practicing alternate picking even if your planning on using strictly economy picking like myself. By practicing alternate still, you are actually making yourself work harder, so when you do play economy it will be that much easier on you (and faster).

Here are some more licks/exercises to work on for your economy picking, remember to do them as alternate picking too. This is all economy picking friendly. Starts off in major and decends with some scale alterations:

 

|----------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------11-12-|
|-------------------------------11-12-------11-14-12-------|
|----------10-12-------10-14-12-------14-12----------------|
|-10-14-12-------14-12-------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------12-14----------------|
|----------------12-14-------12-15-14-------15-14-12-------|
|-------11-14-12-------14-12-------------------------15-14-|
|-14-12----------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------|

|---------------------------------------------------------------14-12----|
|-15-12------------------------------------------------------10----------|
|-------------15-12---------------------------------------11-------------|
|-------14-11-----------------------11-14--------------12-------------12-|
|-------------------14-10-12-----------------------12--------------------|
|-----------------------------14-12-------12-10-14-----------------------|

This one is harmonic minor based:

 

|-------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------11-12-14-15-14-|
|--------------------------------9-11-12----------------|
|-------------------8-9-11-12-11------------------------|
|------------7-9-10-------------------------------------|
|-6-7-9-10-9--------------------------------------------|

|-12-14-15-------------------------------------|
|----------15-14-12----------------------------|
|-------------------11-1214--------------------|
|---------------------------14-12-11-----------|
|-------------------------------------7-9-10---|
|--------------------------------------------7-|

This is actually the blues scale, however it is played in such a way to make it sound a little odd. The rolling of the fretting fingers is tough to get perfect but will help you out with sweep arpeggios later on:

 

|----------------------------12-15-------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------12-------15-------12-------------------------------|
|-------------------14-12-------------15-12----12-------14-------------------|
|-------12-14----14-------------------------------12-14----14-------12-13----|
|----12-------14----------------------------------------------14-12----------|
|-12----------------------------------------------------------------------12-|

This is a Wholetone scale pattern:

 

|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|-------------------14-16-18-------------------|
|----------13-15-17-------------------15-17-19-|
|-12-14-16-------------------14-16-18----------|

|-------------------------------------18-20-22-|
|----------------------------------------------|
|-------------19-21----------19-21-23----------|
|-16-18-------------18-20-22-------------------|
|-------17-19----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|

This is E-blues based:

 

|----------------------------------17-15-12----------|
|-------------------12-15-17-15-12----------15-14-12-|
|----------------------------------------------------|
|----------12-14-17----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------|
|-12-15-17-------------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-15-14-12----------------------------------------|
|----------12-14-17-------------------------------|
|-------------------17-14-12-14-13-12-10----------|
|----------------------------------------12-10-12-|

Guide To Sweep Picking

Hi, welcome to my second lesson, this time on the extremely popular (and feared) technique known as sweep picking (or simply known as sweeping). I’m going to try to keep this simple and leave as much terminology out as possible (I think that it is better if you practice sweep picking with distortion turned on, that way you can hear where you are screwing up).

Defining Sweep Picking

What is sweep picking? First off, sweep picking is a technique which involves the use of the same picking direction to play three or more notes on adjacent strings. Sweep picking allows you to play a large amount of notes at blazingly fast speeds. Players such as Yngwie Malmsteen (Arpeggios From Hell) and JerryC (Canon Rock, Sweeping From Heaven) use this technique all the time to shred through arpeggios. While commonly used for playing arpeggios, once you get it down, sweep picking is actually a very economical technique. Sweep picking is one of those techniques that once you get it down it is relatively easy to do, but getting it down is the hardest part because there are a few tough hurdles you have to jump. For instance, you may have your right(picking) hand’s technique perfect, but your left hand is still holding the chords down, or you may have the hand rolling (left hand tech.) down perfectly, but you are picking each individual note, which is a big no no. But either way, sweep picking takes a lot of practice and can become very frustrating to learn at times, but once you know it you’ll be glad you did.

Proper Picking Hand Technique

Okay, first things first. You need to get the picking hand used to gliding over the strings. Think of it as a “controlled strum” or a “really slow chord,” just say “controlled strum”. Either way, I found a video on the net that will briefly show you the proper right hand technique. It is a pretty small file, only 43 kb or something. It is uploaded to a server in Germany, but do not worry it is a fast and safe server. Click here for the 3 second explanation. Okay, you’ve watched the video now. Really what you should try is placing your left hand over the 12th fret (to mute it) and then use the technique shown in the video to try and get six consecutive “clicks”. Like the exercise below.

 

   U U U D D D U U U D D D U U U D D D
e|-----x-x---------x-x---------x-x-----|
b|---x-----x-----x-----x-----x-----x---|
g|-x---------x-x---------x-x---------x-|
d|-------------------------------------|
a|-------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------|

Note that not only does this exercise get your picking hand at a proper rythm, but it also teaches up and down strokes, which are pretty self explanatory anyway. When playing this exercise, try to increase your picking speed while still keeping it in time. Make sure you aren’t “picking” each string, but gliding, or sweeping over them. Once you have gotten this exercise down and are confident that your right hand has adapted to “sweeping” over the strings and not picking them then you can move onto the left hand rolling technique.

Left Hand Rolling

Rolling? What the hell are you talking about? Remember earlier when I mentioned that you don’t want all of your notes to run together? Left hand rolling(which will be referred to as rolling from now on) is a technique which makes a sweep a sweep instead of a chord. When a note is struck, you lift the finger that was holding that note. It should look something like this file: Left Hand Rolling. So with these two techniques combined you get the sound and look of a sweep. Now that you know these two core techniques, we can start some basic arpeggios/triads.

String Arpeggios

I find that to start the Dm shape is the easiest to start with, so first try this simple upstroke. U=upstroke, D=downstroke:

 

    U  U  U
e|--------12--|
b|-----13-----|
g|--14--------|
d|------------|
a|------------|
E|------------|

Pretty simple, eh? Well try slowly increasing your speed; start off playing it slow and then increase your speed. Yet again, watch out for a few things. 1)Make sure you’re not picking the notes individually; 2) Make sure that you’re rolling your left hand; 3) Another hurdle: make sure that your left and right hands are synchronized. This will take some practice, but after you do the exercise again and again it will come to you naturally. There’s really no other way to fix this problem except through practice. Anyway, play that exercise until you can play it clean, then concentrate on playing it fast. Once you have speed and accuracy down we can move onto the downstroke.

 

     D  D  D
e|--12--------|
b|-----13-----|
g|--------14--|
d|------------|
a|------------|
E|------------|

Do the same error checks that you did for the upstroke and yet again, work on playing it clean first, then work on speed, once you have achieved speed and accuracy we can combine the up and down strokes to create a decent sounding arpeggio lick.

 

     U  U  U  D  D  D    U  U  U  D  D  D
e|--------12--12--------------12--12--------|
b|-----13--------13--------13--------13-----|
g|--14--------------14--14--------------14--|
d|------------------------------------------|
a|------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------|

While it’s not too hard, it is a somewhat challenging lick at first. Yet again, run through the same error checks as before (I just realized that I am talking like a programmer, error checks). Ugh, anyway, work on your accuracy and then build up your speed to where there is barely a second in between notes. Once you can do that, building up speed on the larger arpeggios won’t be even half as hard. Anyway, once you have mastered the basic 3 string sweep, why don’t we add in some hammer ons and pulloffs?

 

e|-----------12H15P12----------------12H15P12--------|
b|--------13----------13----------13----------13-----|
g|--12H14----------------14P12H14----------------14~~|
d|---------------------------------------------------|
a|---------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------|

Nothing too fancy, but it sounds cool and it adds some variety to what you’re playing, plus it puts your dexterity and accuracy to the test. Once you have mastered this little trick, you should be able to mix things up a little with not problem. Like below:

 

     U  U  U   D  D  D  U  U  U   D  D  D   U
e|--------12--14--------------12--14------------|
b|-----13--------13--------13--------13---------|
g|--14--------------12--14--------------12--14~~|
d|----------------------------------------------|
a|----------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------|

This lick’ll really test your dexterity and your accuracy. Yet again, try and play this as clean as you can, and then try and play this lick as fast as you can. Once you can, try this next lick out.

 

Suggested fingering:
     3  2  1  3  2  1  3  2  1  3  2  1  3  2  1  etc...
e|--------12H14-------------12H14-------------13H15-------------14H16----
b|-----13-------13-------13-------13-------14-------14-------15-------15-
g|--14-------------12H14-------------12H15-------------13H16-------------
d|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
a|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

e|----------15H17-------------16H18-------------17H19-------------16H18-
b|-------16-------16-------17-------17-------18-------18-------17-------
g|-14H17-------------15H18-------------16H19-------------17H18----------
d|----------------------------------------------------------------------
a|----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------

e|-------------15H17-------------14H16-------------13H15-------------12H
b|-17-------16-------16-------15-------15-------14-------14-------13----
g|----16H17-------------15H16-------------14H15-------------13H14-------
d|----------------------------------------------------------------------
a|----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------

e|14---------|
b|---13------|
g|------12~~~|
a|-----------|
E|-----------|

Lengthy, I know, but trust me once you can play it accurately quickly it sounds really really cool and it’ll impress more people than you thought. From here on in, doing 4, 5 and 6 string sweeps will be no trouble at all.

String Sweeps

 

     1  4  3  2  1  3  1  2  3  4  1
e|--------------12H15P12--------------|
b|-----------13----------13-----------|
g|--------14----------------14--------|
d|--12H15----------------------15P12--|
a|------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------|

The only real challenge here is using the pinky finger, while it’s a no brainer for most people, some people get stuck in the habit of never using their pinky, so you need to get out of that habit if you wish to be a decent guitarist! Okay, anyway. So that’s 4 string sweeps, not too difficult, though they’re not too common either.

String Sweeps

Perhaps the most common sweep, along with the 6 string sweeps of course, 5 string sweeps are relatively easy and are almost dare I say it fun to do. Here is an example of a 5 string sweep:

 

     1  3  3  1  2  1  3  1  2  1  2  3  1
e|-----------------12H15P12-----------------|
b|--------------13----------13--------------|
g|-----------12----------------12-----------|
d|--------14----------------------14--------|
a|--12H15----------------------------15P12--|
E|------------------------------------------|

A C Major Arpeggio, one of my personal favorites, next to the Am triad. Pretty simple huh? Well try and do this next one.

 

     1  3  2  2  2  1  3  1  2  2  2  3  1
e|-----------------12H17P12-----------------|
b|--------------14----------14--------------|
g|-----------14----------------14-----------|
d|--------14----------------------14--------|
a|--12H16----------------------------16P12--|
E|------------------------------------------|

Tricky, tricky huh? Can’t play that without those three notes running together can you? Well there is one more technique that you must now, it is a different type of rolling. It is called “finger rolling” which is different from hand rolling. In finger rolling, you literally ROLL your finger accross the strings.

Finger Rolling

I guess the best way to explain it is:

1) you push the tip of your finger down on the 4th string, strike the note.
2) release the tip of the finger and push the middle part of your finger(adjacent to the middle of the fingernail), strike the note.
3) release the middle of the finger and push the end part of you finger, the first joint from the nail, down.
4) Release the finger and continue the sweep.
5) To go back simply reverse the process; it will take some practice. Actually it will take a lot of practice, and it is a pain in the ass to learn and be able to pull it off clean, but it is much more efficient and looks better.

String Sweeps

Here is an example of a 6 string sweep tap, though to be honest it is very similar to 5 string sweeps, if not identical. But either way, here is an example.

 

     1  2  3  2  1  1  3  1  1  2  3  2  1
e|-----------------12H16P12-----------------|
b|--------------12----------12--------------|
g|-----------13----------------13-----------|
d|--------14----------------------14--------|
a|-----14----------------------------14-----|
E|--12----------------------------------12--|

See how similar it is to the 5 string sweep? Now one last thing: Sweep Tapping.

Sweep Tapping

Sweep tapping is nothing special really, it sounds and looks cool, but it’s not all that hard to do. Here is an example of a sweep tap.

 

                          T
e|-----------------12H17-19P17P12-----------------|
b|--------------14----------------14--------------|
g|-----------14----------------------14-----------|
d|--------14----------------------------14--------|
a|--12H16----------------------------------16P12--|
E|------------------------------------------------|

See, not too difficult! By now you should be able to sweep fairly well, so I leave you with this final lick.

 

e|--------------------------------------------------------------------12H15
b|--------------------------------------------------12H15-------12H15------
g|--------------------------------12H14-------12H14-------12H14------------
d|--------------12H14-------12H14-------12H14------------------------------
a|--------12H14-------12H14------------------------------------------------
E|--12H15------------------------------------------------------------------

e|P12-------------------12H14-------------13H15-------------14H16---------
b|----15P12----------13-------13-------14-------14-------15-------15------
g|----------14P12H14-------------12H15-------------13H16-------------14H17
d|------------------------------------------------------------------------
a|------------------------------------------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------

e|-----15H17-------------14H16-------------13H15-------------12H14---------
b|--16-------16-------15-------15-------14-------14-------13-------13------
g|--------------15H16-------------14H15-------------13H14-------------12H14
d|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
a|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                T        T          T
e|-----12H14-------------12H14-16P12H14-17P12H15---17P12H15P12-------------
b|--13-------13-------13---------------------------------------13----------
g|--------------12H14---------------------------------------------12-------
d|-------------------------------------------------------------------14----
a|----------------------------------------------------------------------15P
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------

e|-----------------12H15P12-----------------|-----------------12H16P12----
b|--------------13----------13--------------|--------------12----------12-
g|0----------12----------------12-----------|-----------13----------------
d|0-------14----------------------14--------|--------14-------------------
a|--12H15----------------------------15P12--|-----14----------------------
E|------------------------------------------|--12-------------------------

e|--------------|-----------------12H17P12------------------|
b|--------------|--------------14----------14---------------|
g|-13-----------|-----------14----------------14-----------0|
d|----14--------|--------14----------------------14--------0|
a|-------14-----|--12H16----------------------------16P12---|
E|----------12--|-------------------------------------------|

Congratulations, now you can(or should be able to) sweep pick. So this concludes my second lesson, I hope that it was useful to you and you enjoyed doing it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Sweep Picking II

Well, when you watch someone sweep, it will almost look like they are strumming, but their fret hand looks like they are picking complex patterns. From the looks of it, it may seem very complex, but the concept is actually quite simple. Now, don’t jump ahead and say “Oh, yeah! This might be easy!” On the contrary, sweeping is a very advanced guitar technique that can take tons of practice. The concept is easy, but the technique can take a while to get used to. Now, if you don’t have patience with it, you will probably never learn it. So, that being said, let’s get started!

Well actually, you first need to know that sweeping is most commonly associated with arpeggios. Almost all sweeping is done with arpeggios, though some advanced sweeping techniques use lots of legato runs while still in a sweep, it can get pretty complex. All right, I guess we can start now.

Firstly, this may seem like a bunch of gibberish at a glance, but I’m going to show you where to place your finger and on which frets relative to a eof an arpeggio/excersise. So bear with me. Now, Figure 1 is a simplified Am arpeggio.
When sweeping arpeggios, fingering is very important. At this point, you may want to use a different fingering, but when we move on to the full sized arpeggio, it will make more sense.

 

Figure 1:
 e|-------12-17p12-----------
 B|----13----------13--------
 G|-14----------------14-----
 D|--------------------------
 A|--------------------------
 E|--------------------------

So, looking at Figure 1, you will first place your ring finger on string 3, fret 14. This is where the sweep will start. In order to sweep, you need to have a good strumming form (so if you don’t, practice moving your wrist, when strumming, in a fluid motion, so that the motion doesn’t come from the upper arm or elbow. You’ll know it when you get it down). Ok, so begin the strumming motion there, and as soon as you strike the string, position your middle finger on the 2nd string, 13th fret, but at the same time take off your ring finger so the other string doesn’t ring out (the arpeggio will not sound very good if it rings out). Now apply that same “technique” as you move to the 1st string, 12th fret with your index finger. That’s the downstroke. Now for the upstroke.Here, you will start with your pinky on the 17th fret. Strike the strings upwards and pull it off of 17 to 12. Important! Do not start the upstroke here. It is a simple pull-off only. When you move to the 2nd string, 13th fret, using the same method you did for the downstroke (muting, etc.) you will start the sweep here. Continue to the 3rd string, 14th fret. There’s one full sweep! Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get it yet. It can take a while to build up the technique to play them fast enough.

To maintain a fluid sound, it is imperative that you do not repeat the 1st note of the arpeggio (here, it is on the 14th fret, 3rd string). Figure 2 shows you how it should be continuated.

Figure 2. Notice that the first note is note repeated. A ^ denotes the skipped string.

 

 e|-------12-17p12----------12-17p12----------12-17p12----------12~-
 B|----13----------13----13----------13----13----------13----13-----
 G|-14----------------14----------------14----------------14--------
 D|----------------- ^ ------------ ^ ------------ ^ ---------------

Here’s where things get more complex and where fingering is very important – Full (or mostly full) arpeggio shapes. Figure 3 is the full Am arpeggio.

 

Figure 3:
 e|----------------12-17p12---------------------------12-------------------
 B|-------------13---------13----------------------13----------------------
 G|----------14---------------14----------------14-------------------------
 D|-------14---------------------14----------14----------------------------
 A|-12h15---------------------------15-12h15-------------------------------
 E|------------------------------------------------------------------------

The fingering here will be the same for the last 3 strings, but what about the other 2? Well, to start it off, take you index finger and put it on the 12th fret, 5th string. When you begin the sweep, hammer on to the 15th fret from the 12th with you pinky. I know, your pinky. If you are not used to using and stretching your pinky, I would suggest using it more often ’cause it is used a lot in shred. Now, here’s a hard part. Take you ring finger as you get to the 4th string and barre both the 4th and 3rd string on the 14th fret. Now to pull off the same fluid muted sound, you must execute a finger roll.Start with the tip of the finger when striking the 4th string and “roll” it down to the 3rd string, effectively muting the 4th string. Then proceed as usual and then back up the arpeggio. You must be preparred when you get to the 3rd string. You must start off with your finger “already rolled” and roll is up to the tip. And just strike the 15th fret 5th string to complete it.

When you start it over, make sure you start with the hammer on and not from the fifteenth fret. Sometimes you may accidentally pull off from 15 to 12 on the way back up. This is fine, but may be a little harder as your instinct will tell you to hammer back on to 15 when going back down. Instead just start on fifteen. Either way, take time to make it sound good and practice on clean!

Here are a couple of songs that have fun sweeping parts in it. Enjoy! And be patient!

 

"Liar" by Yngwie Malmsteen:
 e|-7p4-------4-10p7--------7-12p8-------8/17p12----------12/----|
 B|-----6---6--------9----9-------10---10--------13----13--------| X2
 G|-------7------------10------------9--------------14-----------|
 D|--------------------------------------------------------------|
 A|--------------------------------------------------------------|
 E|--------------------------------------------------------------|

 e|-12p9---------9-13p10-------10/7-10p7------7-12p8------
 B|-----10----10--------10---10---------8---8-------8---8-
 G|--------12--------------10-------------7-----------9---
 D|-------------------------------------------------------
 A|-------------------------------------------------------
 E|-------------------------------------------------------

 e|---8-10p6------6-8p5------5
 B|---------6---6------5---5--
 G|-----------7----------5----
 D|---------------------------
 A|---------------------------
 E|---------------------------

 e|-4h7p4-----4h5~~~---------------
 B|-------5------------------------
 G|---------7----------------------
 D|--------------------------------
 A|--------------------------------
 E|--------------------------------

Altitudes by Jason Becker:
 e|-12p9--------9-12p9--------9-14p9---------9-12p9-
 B|-----10---10-------10---10--------10---10--------
 G|--------9-------------9--------------9-----------
 D|-------------------------------------------------
 A|-------------------------------------------------
 E|-------------------------------------------------

 e|--------9-14p10---------10----
 B|10---10--------12----12-------
 G|---9--------------11----------
 D|------------------------------
 A|------------------------------
 E|------------------------------

 e|-14p10---------14p10---------10-14p10---------10-19p14-
 B|------12----12------12----12---------12----12----------
 G|---------11------------11---------------11-------------
 D|-------------------------------------------------------
 A|-------------------------------------------------------
 E|-------------------------------------------------------

 e|---------------------14--
 B|15----------------15-----
 G|--16------------16-------
 D|----16--------16---------
 A|------17-14h17-----------
 E|-------------------------

 e|-19p14---------------------14-17p14-------14-17p14-
 B|------15-----------------15--------15---15---------
 G|--------16-------------16------------14------------
 D|----------16---------16----------------------------
 A|------------17-14h17-------------------------------
 E|---------------------------------------------------

 e|--------14-19p14--------14---
 B|15---15---------15---15------
 G|--14--------------14---------
 D|-----------------------------
 A|-----------------------------
 E|-----------------------------

 e|-17p14---------14-18p14--------14-18p14----------
 B|------15----15---------14----14--------14----14--
 G|---------14---------------15--------------15-----
 D|-------------------------------------------------
 A|-------------------------------------------------
 E|-------------------------------------------------

 e|14-21p14---------14-18p14------
 B|--------14----14---------14----
 G|-----------15---------------15-
 D|-------------------------------
 A|-------------------------------
 E|-------------------------------

 e|---14-19p14---------------------14------
 B|-14--------15-----------------15--------
 G|-------------16------------16-----------
 D|---------------16--------16-------------
 A|----------------17-14h17----------------
 E|----------------------------------------

Now that’s just part of the songs of course. I hope you enjoyed my lesson and found it helpful. If you are still not getting it, PM me or ask me a question and I’ll try to help you out. Hopefully everyone will find this a bigger help.

Lateral Dexterity

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One of my students asked me if I had any exercises the focus on positions shifts and improving speed going up and down the neck laterally rather than keeping in position and going accross strings, which was something I must admit that I had never looked at in isolation it just always happened naturally for me. So I told him I would have a think about it and see if I could come up with a few exercises. I also looked on here to see if I could find a lesson of a similar ilk, but alas no. So I actually did some work and came up with 2 exercises and a variation on each one and thought I would post them here incase anyone else was looking for the same thing as my student. Please send questions and comments on a postcard!

Exercise 1.
This example is clearly based on the scale of A major but obviously can be moved to different keys to suit your mood. Also, if you want more of a challenge move it closer to the nut for larger stretches. With both this exercise and the variation use the same fingering pattern (1st, 2nd & 4th) troughout Start off at 60bpm playing 8th note/quaver triplets and build it up to a decent pass and just try and increase your speed every day. Picking patterns are indicated in the usual manner.

  n v n n v n sim.
|------------------------------------14-12-10-|
|---------------------------14-12-10----------|
|--------------------11-9-7-------------------|
|-------------11-9-7--------------------------|
|-------9-7-5---------------------------------|
|-9-7-5---------------------------------------|

  v  n  v  v  n  v sim.
|-10-12-14-------------------------------------||
|----------10-12-14----------------------------||
|-------------------7-9-11---------------------||
|--------------------------7-9-11--------------||
|---------------------------------5-7-9--------||
|---------------------------------------5-7-9--||

Now the variation of the exercise to make it slightly more of a challenge. Again start at 60bpm playing 8th/quaver triplets and the picking patterns are shown in the usual manner.

  n v n  n v n n  v  n  v  n  v  v n v  v n v
|-----------------------10-12-14---------------||
|--------------14-12-10------------------------||
|--------------------------------7-9-11--------||
|-------11-9-7---------------------------------||
|---------------------------------------5-7-9--||
|-9-7-5----------------------------------------||

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Exercise 2.
This excerise is a-tonal and spans the whole neck, so there’s no easy get out if you want to move it to a different postion for smaller stretches! It’s a bit longer and more involved than the first exercise too. Start at around 50bpm playing 16th notes/semi-quavers, work it up till you ‘feel the burn’, use the indicated picking patterns and make sure you stick with the same finger for each fret in each position.

  n-------v-------n-------v-------sim.
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------4-1-------------8-5---------------12-9----------|
|-----3-----2---------7-----6----------11------10-------|
|---2---------3-----6---------7-----10------------11----|
|-1-------------4-5-------------8-9------------------12-|

|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|----------16-13-------------------20-17----------|
|-------15-------14-------------19-------18-------|
|----14-------------15-------18-------------19----|
|-13-------------------16-17-------------------20-|

|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|----------18-21-------------------14-17----------|
|-------19-------20-------------15-------16-------|
|----20-------------19-------16-------------15----|
|-21-------------------18-17-------------------14-|

|------------------------------------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------------------------||
|----------10-13----------------6-9-------------2-5----------||
|-------11-------12-----------7-----8---------3-----4--------||
|----12-------------11------8---------7-----4---------3------||
|-13-------------------10-9-------------6-5-------------2-1--||

And now the variation for a bit more of a challenge. Again start at around 50pm playing semi-quavers, build up the speed, use the same finger for each fret in each position and use picking patterns as indicated.

|-----------------------------------------12-9----------|
|-----------------------8-5------------11------10-------|
|-------4-1-----------7-----6-------10------------11----|
|-----3-----2-------6---------7---9------------------12-|
|---2---------3---5-------------8-----------------------|
|-1-------------4---------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------------------|
|----------16-13----------------------------------|
|-------15-------14----------------20-17----------|
|----14-------------15----------19-------18-------|
|-13-------------------16----18-------------19----|
|-------------------------17-------------------20-|

|--------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------14-17----------|
|----------18-21-----------------15-------16-------|
|-------19--------20----------16-------------15----|
|----20--------------19----17-------------------14-|
|-21--------------------18-------------------------|

|----------10-13---------------------------------------------||
|-------11-------12-------------6-9--------------------------||
|----12-------------11--------7-----8-----------2-5----------||
|-13-------------------10---8---------7-------3-----4--------||
|-------------------------9-------------6---4---------3------||
|-----------------------------------------5-------------2-1--||