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Changing Direction When Sweep Picking

Question by John Smith

When descending on an arpeggio, I don't know the most efficient motion when turning the sweep in the other direction.

Also, what is the most efficient way to gain speed?


The most common way to negotiate a change of direction when sweep picking is to pick the "change string", the string at the top or bottom of the arpeggio pattern, twice.

For example, using a simple 3 string minor arpeggio...

G minor arpeggio sweep picking

So we arrive at the E string with a downward sweep and play the string again with an upward stroke, giving us the direction to sweep back down the pattern.

We then arrive at the G string with an upward sweep and play the string again with a downward stroke, giving us the direction to sweep back up the pattern.

Because the sequence of notes is played quickly when sweep picking, the repetition of these top and bottom notes is blurred into the overall sound of the sequence, especially when the sweep spans four or more strings.

Gaining Speed

Unfortunately, there is no short cut to gaining speed. Starting slow, and speeding up gradually, ideally using a metronome, is the only way to do it if you want to ensure your timing is accurate and your playing articulate.

The lesson on how to practice scales should give you a solid process for developing your speed, using different note values (quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes).

Without timing, speed is pointless. Work on your timing and picking technique and speed will come naturally, possibly without you even having to think about it.

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