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Introduction to Sweep Picking

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The most unfamiliar part of sweep picking for most guitarists is usually the right hand technique. So let's forget about our left hand for a while and take a look at the right hand technique of sweep picking.

You can see that the pick moves up and down across all the strings, only changing direction when it gets to the A string and the E string. What's most important is timing - I often practice with a metronome - because sweep picking is all about timing. If you have a metronome, it helps to start slowly and build up your tempo, and make sure that every note is of even duration. When you start incorporating your left hand, this is going to be key.

A couple of key points: you don't want to dig the pick in; you're trying just to touch each string, not so much actually pluck it. If you dig in you'll get a lot of resistance from each string, and that will make your life a lot harder. You just want to the tip of the pick to hit each string enough to make it ring.

I also find that it helps if I angle the pick slightly in the direction I'm going in, it reduces resistance as the pick is traveling across the strings. I'd also advise not to go faster than you feel comfortable that every note is ringing out; it's really easy to build bad habits when learning sweep picking, but the reward of being patient and working on your timing will be well worth it.

Lesson Info
Instructor Eric Barnett
Introduction to Sweep Picking