I’ve got to admit here that sweep picking isn’t a massive part of my playing style. While I respect the skill that some shredders have with the technique, I’ve never had the patience to stick with it long enough to get really good at it.
Despite my own laziness with practising sweep picking, I do think that it’s an incredibly useful technique to gain some fluency with. It definitely has a unique sound, and can also make playing some musical ideas a lot easier. So I thought it would be a good idea to include at least one lick that uses sweep picking in it! Let’s check out the lick now…
Rock Guitar Lick 10: Mixing Alternate Picking and Sweep Picking
This is yet another lick that uses the E Natural Minor scale. If you look closely at the picking motions I’ve suggested, you’ll notice that I have sneakily snuck in some sweep picking into something that you might play using strict alternate picking. Here’s the same lick with the three sweep picking sections of the lick highlighted…
For the notes that are highlighted in yellow you’ll need to sweep pick three notes in a row using upstrokes. While for the blue highlighted notes, you’ll have to sweep pick three notes using downstrokes.
I think it’s a really good idea to take the highlighted sections and invest some time practising them in isolation. For most guitarists, especially if they are new to sweep picking, these will be the hardest parts of the lick. Once you feel comfortable playing the sweep picking parts, you can then start practising the lick in its entirety.
When it comes time to play the lick to a metronome, be sure that you maintain the evenness of the sixteenth note timing. It’s extremely easy to rush the sweep picked parts of the lick if you’re not extra careful. At least, that’s what I have the tendency to do. :-)
Have fun with this lick!