Greetings fellow guitar players! I have had a lot of people emailing me asking if I would do some more guitar lessons on sweep picking. That’s great because I love sweeping. I decided to do this little lesson on incorporating sweep picking into your metal riffs. This lesson is complete with video, TAB/notation, arpeggio diagrams, and a guitar jam track to help you practice. There are two parts to this lesson so make sure to check out the second half.
I decided to do a lesson on sweeping at a moderate tempo throughout a riff for a couple of reasons. Reason number one is that you can find guitar videos lessons on basic sweeping technique on GuitarLessons.com and just about anywhere else that does online guitar lessons. Reason number two is that sweep picking arpeggios very slowly or very quickly is pretty easy for most people who have been sweeping for a while. The moderate tempo of this riff is fast enough to make you concentrate, but it is also slow enough so that you can just flurry through the arpeggios. Playing arpeggios at this tempo will help you to really gain control over your sweep picking.
This riff is in the key of D minor. Basically we are just sweeping arpeggios throughout a ten bar progression. The progression is 2 bars of D minor, 2 bars of G minor, 2 bars of D minor, 1 bar of A 7, 1 bar of G minor, and 2 bars of D minor. It’s kind of like a modified minor blues progression. The jam track is just a loop of this 10 bar progression. It’s pretty heavy and very fun to practice with too.
Here are the shapes for the arpeggios used in the riff. Go through and try to memorize each shape. Make sure to check out the TAB because not every note in each shape is used in the riff.
The riff is in an odd time signature, 7/4. If you have never messed with odd time signatures don’t worry, the way I have arrange the arpeggios make it pretty easy to keep track of where you are. All of the notes in the riff are eighth notes. Each arpeggio, from highest note to lowest note, is 7 eighth notes long. For each measure you play the arpeggio twice. 7 notes twice = 14. 14 eighth notes = 1 measure.
That may be a bit confusing, but all you need to know is that if you memorize one of the arpeggio patterns on the TAB, you just play that pattern twice for one measure. It should be pretty clear when you check out the sheet music.
You will notice that all of the arpeggios in the example are swept with an upward sweeping motion and not the typical up/down full sweeping motion. I find that isolating your upward sweeping, or downward sweeping for that matter, can really help you to focus in on perfecting that particular motion. Try playing the riff like it is written, with an emphasis on upward sweeping, and then come up with your own downward sweep picking variation.