In The Woodshed

Give your sweep pick­ing a good dust­ing off with this month’s trip down the gar­den path to the Woodshed. Char­lie Grif­fiths is your trusty guide.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON -

Sweep pick­ing is a tech­nique best suited to arpeg­gios played one note per string. The pick­ing tech­nique it­self is much the same as strum­ming a chord in slow mo­tion. Try hold­ing a barre chord and slowly strum­ming across the strings, mak­ing sure your hand is mov­ing at a steady speed. As your pick passes across the strings the notes will nat­u­rally oc­cur at an even rate. With prac­tice you can make these notes con­form to sub­di­vi­sions like 16th-notes or triplets etc. The sim­i­lar­ity to strum­ming is im­por­tant as it is one con­tin­u­ous mo­tion, rather than six in­di­vid­ual down or up strokes. So far we have a chord played one note at a time, but with the notes ring­ing to­gether. The de­sired ef­fect with sweep pick­ing is to only hear one note at a time; this is where the fret­ting hand comes in. The fret­ting hand is re­spon­si­ble for sep­a­rat­ing the notes so that only one is heard at a time. This is achieved by mut­ing the five strings you are not us­ing with any fret­ting-fin­ger flesh you have at your dis­posal.

Ex­am­ple one is a three-string frag­ment of a chord shape, much like Yng­wie Malm­steen or Steve Vai would use. A good way to warm up the pick­ing hand is to hold down the chord shapes and prac­tise mov­ing the pick through the strings. Fo­cus on con­trol­ling your hand so it moves in smooth, re­laxed down and up strokes. The notes should be even triplets, or three notes per beat. Once you feel com­fort­able, start fol­low­ing the pick with your fret­ting fin­gers.

Ex­am­ple 2 ex­pands on Ex­am­ple 1 by adding two ex­tra lower notes on the fourth and fifth strings in the style of Mat­tias IA Ek­lundh. This makes a mi­nor 7th arpeg­gio (1-b3-5-b7)

us­ing one note per string. This time there are five notes per beat, which might take a lit­tle get­ting used to; but all the notes should nat­u­rally fall into place if you fo­cus on mak­ing the low­est and high­est ones fall ex­actly on the down beats.

The third ex­am­ple is played us­ing six notes per beat and uses all six strings in a John Petrucci style. The arpeg­gio shapes are based on ma­jor triad barre chords, which you may recog­nise from the CAGED sys­tem. Some re-fin­ger­ing is nec­es­sary in or­der to sep­a­rate the notes and cre­ate a smooth suc­ces­sion of notes, as ideally only one string should be held down at a time, while the re­main­ing five strings are muted.

Our fourth ex­am­ple is tech­ni­cally the same as Ex­am­ple 3 for the pick­ing hand, but this time we adapt the ma­jor triad shapes to add some ma­jor 7th and 9th in­ter­vals to cre­ate more colour­ful sounds, rem­i­nis­cent of Frank Gam­bale. Our fi­nal ex­am­ple con­tin­ues with the Frank Gam­bale theme with a ma­jor 7th shape (1-3-5-7) adding some al­ter­nate picked notes on the fourth string. Once you have flu­id­ity with this shape you can al­ter the in­ter­vals to cre­ate a host of other sounds such

(1-3-5-b7), as Dom­i­nant 7th mi­nor 7th (1-b3-5-b7) (1-b3-b5-b7).

and mi­nor 7 flat 5 Al­most any chord shape or sound can be adapted to cre­ate sweep-picked arpeg­gios, so start ex­per­i­ment­ing and cre­ate your own.

sWeep pIck­ING Is A Tech­NIque BesT suITed To pLAY­ING ARpeG­GIos us­ING A oNe-NoTe-peRsTRING Ap­pRoAch

NEXT MONTH Char­lie shows how to se­lect in­di­vid­ual notes with pinched har­mon­ics

Richie Kotzen was a great sweep picker when he used to use a pick

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