The Art Of Sweep Picking. Part 1 – Two String Arpeggios


The important thing that lot of guitar heads forget is that you have to learn technique to make music and not to just make stupid ultra fast arpeggios that musically sound like shit and make no sense at all. Now, if you want to learn to sweep pick you have to understand some things:

1. Be patience
2. Read again rule number one and understand it
3. You have to find the hand positions (Not the fingerings) that feel more
natural to you (if you watch different guitar players you will see that
their hand positions are different).
4. The more you practice, practice, practice the better you get


Symbol Guide.
p - pull off
° - natural harmonic
€ - down stroke
¡ - up stroke

When you practice you have to really focus in all the movements you make. By this I mean don’t just look how your fingers move. Your mind has to be really into what you are doing. And this is not easy because once you start playing if you pay attention you will see how easy your mind starts to think in another things that have nothing to do with what you are practicing. You don’t have to practice 3 hours to learn any technique. It takes time. So I think the practicing an exercise for 5 or 10 minutes really concentrated is enough. It depends on every person. Some people learn fast and for others take more time. Just spend at least one hour every day. And you will notice the improvement. You will feel that in your hands.Another thing is to have a pretty decent tone from your amp. And use the
neck pickup, it might help to get a better and cleaner tone but it’s pretty much the same really. Just avoid trash scooped equalized sound here.

Okay with that said I just wanted to remind you that this lesson has the basic two stings arpeggio paterns. Once you learn the technique you will be able to make millions of arpeggio etudes and licks to show your buddies how good you play guitar. Here we go!

The first exercise is oriented to your picking hand, to learn the picking motion. It’s not that hard really. Another things that you have to keep in mind are:

1. Use a heavy pick. So it doesn’t bend when you play and change to another string.
2. Play softly! You don’t have to pick hard. That’s really important.
3. Don’t separate the pick strokes.

You really need to master this one. Looks easy. Hope it is. Don’t play with distortion Fx. Clean channel and if you want a little reverb.

Put your 1 finger on the 7th fret from the 4th string to the 1st. You have to play natural harmonics here so don’t press the strings. Strum slowly and hear if you can make all the harmonics on each strings sound. When you are ready play the exercise tapping with your foot and count 1 & 2 &. Repeat.


        € € € €   ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡

Congratulations you are sweep picking! Now, this lesson is about two string sweeping. I made that exercise because it feels more natural for the picking hand.EX.2:


        € €  ¡ ¡  € €  ¡ ¡

It’s basically the same as Ex. 1 But a bit trickier. Practice and try to keep a constant tempo. Then try it backward, starting in the 1st string with an up stroke.EX.3:


        € €  ¡ € €  ¡

This one feels different because of the triplets. Accentuate the first note of each triplet so you don’t loose the feel and how it has to sound. Try it backwards. It’s harder. I know that these 3 exercises can be boring as hell. But if you really learn them you will be able to play really cool stuff. Two string sweeps!Now try these arpeggios. They are basically Major, Minor and diminished chords patterns played in the 1st and 2nd strings you have to look for patterns in other strings too. Now you may use distortion (A nice shred guitar tone). Don’t use reverb.

Use your 4th finger for the D note in the 1st string 10th fret, 1st finger for the B and your 2nd finger for the G note in the 2nd string 8th fret. It’s a G Major Arpeggio with the root in the 2nd string. Now you have to do an up stroke in the first note and then pull-off. And then play a down stroke in the G note 2nd string and keep the motion and down pick the first string. Repeat that pattern. Now you can see why was important to learn exercise 2.


         ¡ p €  €  ¡ p € €

If you hear background noise try doing this. Just before you down pick in the 2nd string try lifting your 1st finger a bit and kill the sound with the rest of your 2nd finger. You press the G note with the tip of your 2nd finger then let it rest softly in the first one like if you where playing a natural harmonic. It’s difficult to explain really. But it’s not that hard to play.If you can’t get it. Do the exercise playing just the 3 first notes of it
and let the note in the 2nd string ring. Up stroke, pull of, down stroke and hold the G note. This is the best way to solve the problem. With all this information you are ready to play all the patterns. Some of them are trickier because you have to use 1 finger to play a sweep like you did in exercise 2.

A minor arpeggio. Use 4th, 1st and 2nd fingers for each note.


         ¡ p  € €  ¡ p   € €

E major chord. Use 4th, 1st and 2nd fingers for each note.


         ¡ p € € ¡  p € €

Diminished arpeggio. Use 4th finger for the D, 1st finger for the B and 2nd or 3rd for the G# note.


         ¡ p € €  ¡ p € €

Okay now the next one is a bit more difficult.EX.8:


         € €  ¡   € €  ¡

Practice all the arpeggios given using the same picking pattern. If you can’t play it, practice Ex. 3 and when you get the feel try again. If you get to this part and you can play all the examples then congratulations. You have learnt all the basic stuff you need to know to sweep pick in two strings.As I said before you have to come up with your own ideas. You can do Pull Off’s, Hammer on’s between strings sweeps, Slides to change to different arpeggios, tapping, etc. Thanks for reading my lesson, and keep practicing.


29 thoughts on “The Art Of Sweep Picking. Part 1 – Two String Arpeggios”

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