Sweep Picking Mistakes That Make Your Playing Less CleanSweep Picking Mistakes That Make Your Playing Less Clean

Don’t commit these 3 mistakes that make it difficult to sweep pick arpeggios at fast speeds:

Mistake #1: Killing picking momentum.

Playing with a clean tone hides your sloppy mistakes. Playing with distortion exposes them. Clean tone makes it impossible to hear when some notes are bleeding together or when some strings are not being muted as they should be. Distortion makes these mistakes extremely obvious.

Regardless of how many notes there are in the arpeggio or how many hammer ons, pull offs it contains, the pick must maintain momentum during each of the two separate picking motions.

Your pick needs to fall into each string and push against the next higher string, like if you were playing a violin with a bow. Maintain consistent momentum and watch your arpeggios get cleaner.

Mistake #2: Not isolating the rolling motion in the fretting hand.

“Rolling” describes playing notes on the same fret but different/adjacent strings (using the same finger). Many guitar players mistakenly treat rolling technique like playing a barre chord. Meaning: they fret all the notes at once and play through them with the pick. This causes them to ring out together, making your sweep picking sound sloppy.

Isolate the rolling motion and practice to play it cleanly. Instead of treating rolling like a barre, collapse the knuckles of your finger to fret a note while lightly dampening the previous string to keep it from ringing out. This helps your arpeggios sound sparkling clean!

Mistake #3: Not properly isolating the rolling movement in your fretting hand

“Rolling” refers to using the same finger to play various notes on a single fret, on different strings. A lot of guitar players mistakenly treat rolling like using a barre. They fret every note simultaneously and them all with the pick. This causes the notes to blend together and make your sweep picking sound very sloppy.

Practice isolating the rolling motion in order to eliminate sloppiness. Remember: rolling is not the same as using a barre. Each note of the arpeggio needs to sound individually, without blending together with other notes. This is an important reason why practicing with distortion is so helpful. Distortion makes it obvious when your rolling technique is sloppy and needs to be corrected.

by Tom Hess
References and Bibliography
Tom Hess is a professional recording artist and guitar teacher. Get more sweep picking advice on his website.
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