Category Archives: Technique

Alternate Picking 101


So you would like to learn how to alternate pick? Or, maybe your having trouble getting your picking sounding like a machine gun? Well, you have come to the right person. I understand what it is like to have good chops, but not be able to alternate pick fast. It bothered me for years! But, then one day I figured out the secret to super fast picking… the metronome and playing faster than I could cleanly! If you do not have a metronome, go out and buy one NOW! This is a must and you will NOT be able to pick fast and metrical if you don’t practice with a metronome. A metronome will smooth out your timing between pick strokes at any tempo.

I remember being super frustrated with alternate picking. I was in a slump. Couldn’t pick fast, no matter how hard I tried. One day a revelation occurred to me. I was sitting down at my computer listening to some Imperialist. Then, the song “17th Century Clicking Picking” came on. I was floored. My jaw hit the ground and then I said, “I WILL ALTERNATE PICK LIKE THAT.” That was the point that I realized my faults.

I wasn’t practicing on a consistent basis with perfect technique at slow speeds. So, you know what I did? I grabbed my metronome, and sat down every day, 4 to 16 hours, in my dorm room, and practiced to that metronome. Everyday for a month, without a miss. You can guess what happened! It was after I learned to pick really fast that I truly learned what my faults were. What amazed me was that my progress happened in just a few days after a long period of intense practicing. Not everyone has that sort of practice time available. But, by consistently practicing with perfect technique, anyone can avail at speed picking.

Let me reiterate how important it is to practice at a slow tempos and master licks for long periods of time at a slow speeds with perfect technique. Never make the mistake of trying to play to fast than you can cleanly. If you do this, you will not sound clean at high speeds. Also be sure to not over-train yourself. Just like you can over-train your muscles in weight lifting, you can wear out your joints and tendons in insane technical practice over long periods of time. If you start feeling any pain, stop! Enough preaching, let us now go over the rules of thumb before we dig into picking.


Rules of Thumb

Be Loose

The less tension you have when you pick, the faster you will be able to play and the less muscle strain you will suffer. Never dig in when picking really fast. Lay back and be loose.Make sure there is NO TENSION anywhere in your body. Think about your shoulders, back, arms, legs, toes, and head when you practice. Tension = INJURY. Tension = SLOW.


Think Economy

Economy motion is the key here. This means try to eliminate as much motion between pick strokes as possible. The less that you have to move your hand, the faster you can get back to the string. When practicing slowly with perfect economy, make sure you minimize your motion between strokes.


Never Pick from Your Elbow

If you speed pick from your elbow, stop and relearn! I’ve you can really mess up your elbow by doing this. It also takes a lot more energy to move your whole arm than it does your wrist of fingers. You can use your wrist (e.g. Paul Gilbert) to pick or your fingers (e.g. Michael Angelo). What is important is that you pick a style and stick to it. Consistency is key.


Warm Up

Always stretch out your tendons and massage your elbows. We don’t want you getting CTS or Tendinitis! If the blood is not flowing through your hands well, you will not pick fast and accurately.


Slow Before Fast

You can not play fast unless you can play slow. Do not ever attempt to play something faster than you can if you are going to sacrifice cleanness for speed. This is a big NO in alternate picking and it held me up for a long time. Learn it slow, practice it slow, and drive it into your subconscious! Get comfortable with the lick, and then develop the speed. As they say in football, “you have to catch the ball before you can run with it.” Developing speed is all about perfect practice at slow tempos for long periods of time to ingrain the movements into your subconscious. It is then when you gain the speed that your brain regurgitates what you practiced on autopilot.


How to Build Speed

Take a few patterns on or 2 strings like e–5-7-8– or e–8-5-7-8-7-5 and drill them into the ground at slow tempos. Practice them at a moderate speed with perfect technique for long periods of time. You want to ingrain that picking movement into your skull to the point where you are so sick of these simple licks that you would rather die than keep practicing them! That is the trick, drilling a few simple licks intensely and building your speed with them. Once you start getting the speed under your hands, you should then expand into the harder stuff like string crossing and combining fragments into longer licks.


Part 1 – The Basics

So, what is alternate picking? Simple, it is the process of playing a series of notes while using consecutive alternating motion between picking strokes. This means you never repeat the same picking stroke twice. e.g down, up, down, up, etc… Now, with this in mind, let us apply this idea. play the following example. Remember our rules of thumb! (Note that the V indicates an upstroke and the 3/4 of a square marking indicates a down stroke)

Congratulations, you have just alternate picked! Pretty easy hey? Well here is a classic picking exercise to help you develop those picking chops.

I’m sure you’ve seen that exercise 100 times by now hey? I know, I’ve seen it probably a thousand, and I’ve played it way more than that. But, this exercise is a classic for a reason, IT WORKS! Remember to do it in a descending fashion too! You should also try different variations of finger combinations. It is great for building finger interdependence.

Moving onward, one of the most difficult parts of picking super fast is crossing strings. Whether it be fumbling up the consecutive motion, or making noise while crossing strings, crossing strings while picking fast can get ugly! How do we prevent that. Simple, start SLOWLY and isolate the problem. Try this exercise on for size. Be careful not to make noise when crossing strings. This is a great Paul Gilbert lick for practicing string crossings:

Remember us talking about economy motion? It is really really important when crossing strings. The less motion you use when you cross, the faster that you will be able to burn. Here is another great Paul Gilbert lick with a different feel of a string crossing.

Playing those exercises daily will really help you clean up your string crossings.


Part 2 – 3 Note Per String Picking

Playing 3 note per sting patterns is probably the easiest thing to do at super insane speeds. 3 Note per string patterns tend to have a more natural feel compared to other picking patterns. With this in mind, let us try some ascending runs. I hope you know all your major scales, if not, read my master class on it. On a side note, personally I always palm mute all of my picking runs because they sound more articulate and they tend to be cleaner. Experiment and find out what you like the most.

How about we try isolating those weaker fingers to strengthen them.

*Yawn* I’m falling asleep, too easy right? Then, let us add some string skipping to see if you can hold up.

OK hotshot, I get the point, you want something challenging? Try this bad boy out for size.

Well, as they say, what goes up, must come down. In light of that, we shall do some descending picking patterns.

Combo platter anyone?


Part 3 – One String Picking

For some reason, this can be a total nightmare, but, with enough SLOW practice, oh yes my friends, you too can blaze these killer licks. Just remember the rules of thumb! One sting picking is not made for the impatient. Here we go. This is a lick using the harmonic minor scale.

(Finger it: 4 3 1 \ 1 2 4 / . The trick is getting the shift fast with out making it sound like your sliding!)

OK, here is the classic Yngwie one note per string picking lick.

Here is one of my favorites. The faster you play this, the better it sounds.


Part 4 – 4 Note Per String Patterns

Alright shred heads, here is the next step. We shall begin by playing the simple chromatic scale.

Hopefully, you are starting to see how we approach efficient picking. I’m going to start to leave out the picking markings. By now, you should have a great idea on how to pick things. Here is a 4 note per string lick.

Here is one more lick with some cool open stringage (is that a word? haha, it is now!).

Remember that you should play all these licks in a descending fashion too!


Part 5 – Sequencing

There are 2 great ways to make long picking licks. The 1st is to combine short scale fragments into long licks. The next is sequencing in scales. This is where the really cool picking licks are derived from. Nothing sounds cooler in my opinion than a super fast sequenced lick. So here we go with 4’s.

Just wait until you get that beast up to speed. It sounds tight. This next lick is one of my favorite. It is a Paul Gilbert style sequence. Give her a whirl, and pay close attention to the sequencing pattern!! This one is guaranteed to hurt, so warm up and stretch out..

You can sequence in any way imaginable, just be creative and experiment! Soon you’ll be tearing it up all over the neck. You can try sequencing any scale imagine. Try taking a scale and doing groups of 3, 4, 5, 6, and anything else your brain can concoct! Once you get your hands trained to sequence fluently, you will be able to rip up and down the fret board with ease.


Part 5 – Insane Guitar

Now that you can tear up this whole master class up (this far), lets have some more fun. Let’s tear it up with some cool sounding licks. Only proceed to this section if you are able to rip all the previous licks on this page effortlessly. We are going to have some fun! Please remember that when learning large licks, do so in small sections.
You have to love the pentatonic scale! Pay close attention to the 2 note per string stuff. It can really mess you up if you are not careful.

Here is a cool diminished lick with some string skipping.

Now let us burn up some minor scales.

Well, I think you’ve got the idea. There are some many cool picking licks out there. Listen to some of your favorite guitarists and learn theirs. There are many great articles in the archives here with tons of cool picking licks. Always remember the principles behind good technique and I wish you the best of luck with your picking!

Fret Tapping 101

Hey everyone, its time for some fret tapping… insane guitar style. But, first, before the cool stuff we have to touch the basics. So what is fret tapping some of;you may ask? Well, take your middle finger on your picking hand (you can use your index finger too, I just find the middle easier and more efficient) and hammer it on; to the 12th fret on the high E string. I bet you never even thought that you could do that right? That was my first reaction when my guitar teacher was playing a Van Halen solo for me and all of the sudden he whips his right hand up and starts doing all this crazy stuff with both hands. I’m going… wow, this is insane, I’ll never be able to do that. WRONG. Fret tapping is one of the easiest techniques and it is a lot of fun too.

OK, now you know sort of how to do it. We will start really simple. The “T” in the tablature means tap that note with your middle finger on your picking hand. Basically hammer the 12th fret hard with that middle finger, then give it a little jerk off the string to produce a pull off. Congratulations, your on you way to becoming a tapping mad man now.


Ok, now were going to up the ante. Its time to incorporate a little left hand work into tapping. Try this lick now.


Once you get licks like that up to speed you will be on your way. Now its time to incorporate some some different strings. Here’s a more advanced variation of that last lick.


Now here is a really cool tapping lick. This is a great example of how to incorporate tapping over cord progressions.


OK, now that you have the basics, its time to increase the skill. Remember, there are a million different ways and patterns for tapping. Experiment!! Now for the hard stuff. This next lick is a good example of adding slides into tapping.


Here is taking sliding to the extreme. 100% max speed on one string. Execute as fast as possible….and remember the 3 C’s… CLEAN! CLEAN! CLEAN!!


Now lets add more than one finger. Multiple finger tapping. Use what ever fingers work best for you, and remember, the thumb is fair game. This is a tapped pentatonic scale.


Time for a legato lick with tapping.


What? Did some one say it’s time for some sweeping sequenced arpeggios and; tapping? I think so. Check it. Start slow, work up to speed. This is a killer lick. One of my favorites. I conjured it up after listening to “Intro” off Michael Angelo’s “No Boundries” CD.


Did you like that? I hope so. If that lick doesn’t keep you up all night practicing, this next concept will. Throw out your pick. Were going 100% two handed. This is one pain in the you know what technique. The goal is to play cord progressions ( or walking jazz guitar lines ) with your left hand, and tear it up with your right hand soloing.

Unfortunately I’m not that great at this so I can’t tab anything out for you. I can only open your mind to the possibilities. I can kind of do this, but I am no expert. In the left you want to keep a solid type of progression going. This requires an ultra strong left hand. Hammering one whole barre cords is NOT EASY!!!! Especially trying to make EVERY NOTE come out strong. You can also do fragments of cords.

When trying jazz progressions, try hammering on Dominant triads (“Kernel Cords”) with passing tones, neighboring tones, etc. to transition you between cords. With your soloing hand you can do long legato runs, do arpeggios, hit double stops… etc. The possibilities are endless. To develop a strong right hand, Practice running up and down scales and arpeggios. It is hard to get a really solid right hand. It will take a long time, but after a while, you will be tearing it up! Have fun, I hope I’ve opened you up to something you never thought of.

Legato 101


What is legato? Well, its playing a continuous and fluid series of notes with out using much picking. Guitarists play this technique by the usage of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and right (or left if your a lefty) hand tapping. Legato provides for very fluid sounding runs and licks. Legato also serves as a great means for playing wide intervocalic licks at high speed.


Hand Strengthening Exercises

The first exercise that we will be getting into is called “trills.” In order you get your fingers moving, you have to spend the time developing the muscles. I like to compare hand strengthening legato exercises with body building. As you develop your muscles, you will increase your flexibility, speed, and control. Work our your hand hard, but never over work it. You want to feel the burn in your hand but then relax it. Come back 2-3 minutes later and do another set of trills.

If you do about 3 sets a day, ( make sure you take a day or 2 off to recuperate, you don’t want CTS or tendinitis! Stretch out good! ) soon you will be able to trill longer, stretch farther, and play faster. A trill is performed by playing two notes as fast as you can in repetition. You want to hammer and pull off every note with only picking the first note. Try trilling the 1st and 2nd fret of the E string. Then Move to the B string and so forth.

Make sure that you use every set of fingers that you have. This way they should all equally develop. Most importantly, TAKE THE TIME TO DEVELOP your pinky finger. That is a very crucial part of guitar playing. I can’t stress enough on how critical this is! It may seem hard at first, but remember that this is like weight lifting. At first you won’t put up much weight, but as your muscles strengthen and stabilize, you will get fast increases in gains. It will be hard at first to get that pinky moving, but before you know it, your pinky will become one of your most important playing fingers.

The next part of playing legato is getting strong pull offs. A strong left hand will take you a long way. Working on this exercise while sitting at the television, reading, etc….., will help your left hand a lot. Just make sure you can hear the note being pulled off with out an amp.


The next step in hand strength development is to get all 4 of your fingers working together. Here are a series of exercises that are guaranteed to give you one hell of a work out. These exercises will help smooth out your legato technique. Make sure you do these exercises to a metronome!

The whole point of legato is to have a really smooth and fluid sound. When you start hand strengthening exercises, concentrate on fluidity and smoothness. If you begin learning the technique this way, it will automatically apply to your playing when you develop ripping speed. This is of extreme importance because unlearning a bad habit is 10 times worse than learning it correctly the first time.

Memorize the first lick. Then apply the new finger patterns to it each time.


I guarantee that if you work on patterns like this as exercise a couple of times a week, you will have a a killer legato in a short period of time.

The last legato hand exercise that we are going to look at are what I call “flutters.” These are really cool sounding licks when played up to tempo and are great for strengthen your legato. The first 2 notes of the lick are the only ones that are picked. To execute these properly, you sweep the first 2 notes and let your fingering hand take over the rest of the lick. Palm muting the first note of the lick will help accent the note. The result is a cool sounding lick that is easy to play fast and is a good way to develop speed.



Putting Together Phrases

Now that you’ve eaten your “Wheaties,” taken your vitamins, and got some meat on your legato hand, it is time to put together some licks that you can actually use in a musical way. Putting together long legato phrases follows the exact same idea as putting together long alternate picking runs. It is best to use several small phrases and string them together. Here are some phrases and finger patterns for you to get down with your legato hand in the key of E minor (G major).


This is where it becomes important to have memorized the major scale positions. Connecting these scales to create long licks is the key to making continuous legato runs. Now we are going to combine some of these phrases and finger patterns into some licks. This lick starts out with a ‘flutter’ then ascends. This is in the key of A minor (C major).


As you can see, all we did is take a few small patterns and string them together into a longer lick. Here is another lick that uses the exact same idea in E minor.


Remember to pick the string at the beginning of each phrase. Basically, what this all comes down to is weather you know how to connect your scales or not. By now you should have an understanding of how to link together phrases. This leads me to my next point, sliding. Slides are a very crucial part of legato playing. Sliding allows you to fluidly move in and out of patterns as well as opens up the possibility of flying all over the neck in a legato fury. Here is a Joe Satriani lick that I used to practice a lot which helped my sliding an position changing tremendously.


When playing that lick, you only want to play the first note. You should not have to pick the string more than one time. This lick is also a great endurance lick for building strength.

Now that you’ve got the tools to put together long legato phrases, lets put on together using everything mentioned above. If you are having a hard time playing this lick, remember to break it down in to manageable phrases. Remember, all long licks are just the sum of a lot of smaller pieces.


Once you can start putting together licks like that, there is no stopping you! In the next part of this master class we are going to explore some ideas with legato that will hopefully help you create some awesome licks!

Please note: At this point in the lesson, you should already have a decent control over your legato hand and some good endurance. You should also be putting together your own phrases and licks. If you aren’t at this point in your playing, then go back to earlier parts of the lesson and work on these things.


Pentatonic Ideas

Using legato to implement 3 and 4 note per string licks is a great way to break out of that box. The phrase “think outside the box” is something you hear a lot in business. Legato is a great way to take something that can be very cliche, boring, and overused, like the pentatonic scale (listen to any 80’s hair band guitar solo), and do something exciting with it. From my own experiences, I can tell you that I do a lot of pentatonic speed picking, string skipping, ect… licks because I think they sound VERY catchy at high speeds. For some really cool pentatonic legato ideas, check out Shawn Lane and Rusty Cooley (especially his 4 note per string pentatonic legato string skipping licks! INSANE !!!).

We are going to start off with something simple so you get the idea. Here is a really good lick to practice getting your speed up. It is an E minor pentatonic lick and definitely one of my favorite to play.


Once you get that lick under your fingers, you can just rage on it at insane speeds. Let’s expand on that idea with some octaves. Here we go.


Now that is a cool lick. Let’s try a more advanced legato lick using the pentatonic scale that incorporates some tapping into it.


I’ll take a pentatonic scale with super sized legato and a side order of string skipping please! (Try that one at a McDonalds drive-thru)


Let’s expand on that Idea. Here is a pretty wild lick!


By now, you should have an idea of some of the really neat possibilities that exist when combining legato and the pentatonic scale.

Sweep Picking 101


Hi, and welcome to the master class on sweep picking. Sweeping is an awesome technique that guitarists use to play arpeggios rapidly. When executed properly, a blazing sweep arpeggio sounds very lethal. In order to sweep properly, it is going to require a lot of time and patience on your part. I will do my best to guide you down the path to becoming a sweep picking monster. Only with discipline, hard work, patience, and lots of practice will you be able to master this technique. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

Sweep Picking 101 – The Basics

Let us go over some fundamental sweeping exercises that will help you develop your technique.

PLAYING TIP: when you are shredding, you should always use your neck pick up. It is a lot cleaner and more articulate than the bridge pick up.

3 String Sweeps

We will start by working with some 3 string arpeggios. These are probably the easiest arpeggios to get started with. The first thing that we are going to do is work on descending arpeggios. In my opinion, it was always easier to sweep up strokes evenly than down strokes. Here are some exercises to develop your up stroke sweeping.



Well, what goes up, must come down. So let’s work on the down picking portion of a sweep arpeggio. Remember to let gravity guide your down strokes. The hardest part of down picking a sweep arpeggio is making the strokes consistent. If you practice these few exercises religiously, then you will save yourself many problems in the future. Another thing to remember is that it is ESSENTIAL to always start out slowly and never try to increase speed until your ready to do so. DON’T EVER FORGET THAT. You can’t play with fire if you don’t have a nice pair of fire proof gloves on.


Again, I can not emphasize enough the importance of mastering those few simple exercises. Once you have these under your fingers, you will be ready to move on. Now we are going to take a look at combining these motions to form continuous licks. The first example is a C major arpeggio.


Now lets try something harder. Here is a cool diminished arpeggio shape. The picking on this one is significantly difficult, but if you can get through this one good, then you are well on your way to becoming a sweep picking monster. Pay careful attention to the picking on this bad boy.


Here is a lick that is even harder. The trick here is to roll your first finger on your left hand, back and forth, to mute the other strings from ringing. These type of arpeggios can be very difficult at first. I assure you that if you take the time to master them now, it will make the 6 string monster sweeps a lot easier to tackle. With out further delay, here we go!


After you work through all of these examples, you should have a good understanding of the basics of sweep picking. Lets move on to some bigger shapes.


5 and 6 String Sweeps

Here is where the fun begins. Make sure you’ve got a good foot hold on your 3 string arpeggios before you even think of getting into these. The 5 string sweeps can be difficult at first, but aren’t nearly as hard to learn as the 6 string ones. Let us start by playing through some standard 5 string sweep patterns.

PLAYING TIP: I highly advise you to break each of these arpeggios down into 3 note sections. If you can play all the 3 note sections in a big arpeggio, then you shouldn’t have any problem Remember, to learn the 3 note sections upwards, and then downwards. An example in a C major arpeggio would be:

  • play C E G
  • play E G C
  • play G C E

Follow the pattern through how ever many octaves you are attempting. Do the same thing descending.


Do this exercise with every other arpeggio shape. It is a great way to get them really fast and fluid. You will also find any snags in your arpeggios easily with this exercise. Usually there is only 1 section of 3 notes that will give you difficulty. Once you find it, you can isolate it and practice it. Once you iron out that snag, you’ll be blazing those arpeggios like a madman.

Do you have the fragmented arpeggios down yet? If yes, great! It is time to approach the 5 string ones. Here are some of the major and minor forms. Just for your information, you can use any of these forms in any key signature. Just change the root note. I am only putting these forms in different keys so that they map out in what I think are the easiest places on the neck to learn to sweep. It is harder to learn to sweep in the lower registers of the neck, where the frets are bigger, as well as the higher places where the frets are really small. It is easier to learn in the middle and then move to different spots on the neck.

D Minor


A Minor


E Minor


The arpeggio shapes with the pull-offs and hammer-ons are harder to do because you don’t keep the consecutive picking motion flowing. You are really going to have to practice these ones slowly to get the picking to flow naturally.

In the next example, we are going to put arpeggios to all of the chords in the key of D. This is a great exercise to help get sweep picking under your hands fluidly. The goal here is not to play this exercise at 100 notes a second, it is to play the arpeggios cleanly at a moderate tempo.


Got the 5 string ones down? Great! Bring on the 6 string carnage. These shapes are going to kill you if you don’t have the previous material down. So, If you don’t have the prior material mastered, go no further. Here are some 6 string shapes:

E Minor


Got that down? Awesome! Now it is time to have some fun. We are going to start adding position shifts to make some killer arpeggios. These can get really ugly if you don’t take the time to learn them slowly.

D Major


The key here is to really concentrate on the picking and the position shifts. Practicing those slowly and getting them fluid is very important. If you don’t, you will just end up with a mess of sloppy trash!

Before we get into the insane stuff, I’m just going to talk about a few things. All that I’ve really covered in this master class so far is basic major/minor/diminished shapes. I didn’t get into anything theoretical like modal arpeggios or some of the complex chord extension ideas that are possible. This master class is about technique, not being able to rip it up in the modes of harmonic minor over some odd time signature and chord progression.

It is your job as a musician to unlock these gateways for yourselves. I can just show you the technical path to your own creativity. Having a mastery of the sweeping technique is just like having a new power drill to add to your musical tool box. How you use it is up to you. If you use it is up to you. I do however encourage you to take the time to learn to sweep pick. It is just like having another color on your artists palate.

With that said, it is time to have some really fun and take a look at some rather challenging stuff. Let’s move on hey?


INSANE GUITAR – Sequencing Arpeggios

When it comes to sweep picking, sequencing is pretty much the pinnacle of the technique. There are really only a handful of players out there that really capitalize on this technique and use it in their music. Sequencing can be extremely hard for someone who has even a solid sweeping technique.

The shapes and the picking can be really awkward. The arpeggios become much harder to pull off cleanly and fast. But, if you can do it, or want to learn how, then your definitely going to have fun and are in for a challenge!

Once you start sequencing arpeggios, tons of new possibilities open up to you. It is definitely worth the time spent practicing to obtain skill at this. But remember, music isn’t a competition, it is an art form of inner expression. It is cool to be able to sweep all over the neck in a pyrotechnic fury, but if your not going to ever use it musically, don’t waste your time.

The first example that I’ll use is from a song I wrote many years ago called “Fortress of the Titans.” Some of you may have seen this lick before, as I’ve tabbed it out many times in the past. I do think that this is a great lick to practice sequencing arpeggios with. On a first viewing the lick looks really simple. But, if you try playing it up to speed, you’ll quickly find it really hard to play cleanly and fluidly.


Pay really close attention to the position shifts. That is where things tend to get messed up the most. The really hard part about this lick is keeping it going 4 times in a row with out getting really sloppy on the shifts. Now that we’ve had an introduction to sequencing, lets try something different.

Here is a cool lick from a D to an A.


Here is a good lick to practice sequencing in major arpeggios, but with different neck positions. This lick is in A.


Now, let’s expand on that idea. More fun with moving around in 1 arpeggio. Quite a lot of shred for just 3 notes hey?


The last example is a lick in D minor. It consists of descending 4th not patterns. The hard part about this one is the 2nd group of 4 notes. It is tricky to play cleanly at warp speed.


These licks should give you a good idea of how to sequence arpeggios. I could go on and on writing out lick after lick, but that isn’t any fun. What is fun is taking the time on your own to explore the technique and use it in your songs. Sequencing opens up countless variations you can play over chord progressions. When writing licks like this, analyze the chord changes and see what arpeggios you can play over the top the chords. Then string all the arpeggios into one long lick. It makes for some insane shredding!

I encourage you to take the time to explore possibilities of modal arpeggios and adding extension notes to them too. You can come up with some really neat stuff.


A Different Approach

Something that I do when sequencing arpeggios is add circular picking into the equation. I use my fingers to control some of my movements in my sweeps. It is sort of an odd hybrid approach to sweeping. A good example of a lick that I do this on is the main lead to “Fortress of the Titans.”

Most people I’ve seen sweep pick do so with most of their motion coming from the arm/elbow. I use my wrist and my fingers most of the time. This is something you may want to experiment with. Give it a try, you might like it??



There are so many different ways you can play sweep patterns and so many ways you can construct arpeggios, that it could be a 1,000+ page book. Mess around with creating your own shapes. You’ll find what works best for you eventually. Certain patterns will work better than others for you. It is your job to figure this out for yourself.

Hopefully you’ve gotten a grasp of the technique if your a beginner. If you are somewhat decent at sweeping, then I hope you’ve got enough to bring your playing to the next level. If your a sweep picking veteran, then I hope you got some cool ideas. If anything, I hope you at least learned something from this master class. Have fun with the technique and good luck with your playing!