We spend months of our lives talking about all these “guitar magazine” kind of discussions, who’s the best guitar player and his sweep picking. The notion of sweeping (or raking) the pick across the strings to produce Fusion maestro Frank Gambale is widely considered to be the most. If Frank Gambale were a DC Comics hero, he would surely have a big S on his chest. But that S would not stand for Superman. (That’s taken.

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Once you are comfortable with this shape you can apply the same approach to minor, suspended and diminished-seven arpeggios. This example includes ascending and descending fragments again, this time played together.

Next come some A minor triads A C Eplayed with a progressively increasing number of strings; this is a great way to build your confidence in sweep picking larger shapes.

The final bar is based on the A harmonic minor scale A B C E D F G and incorporates economy picking when traveling from gambalee fifth string to the fourth. This piece is in the key of A minor.

Use a modern tube amp with the gain set to a moderate amount—just enough to give all the notes a uniform volume and sustain, but not so much that string muting becomes an impossible battle. When it comes to sweep picking, muting is the key to cleanliness.

Now we move on to some five-string shapes, the likes of which you can hear in the playing of Steve Vai and Mattias Eklundh. This is quite challenging for the picking hand, so start ga,bale slowly and remember to keep the hand moving smoothly. Gambale explains his approach wonderfully in his instructional video, Monster Licks and Speed Picking.

Something with a thickness between one and two millimeters and a rounded tip will provide the right amount of attack and still glide over the strings with ease.

Every three notes your pick will change direction. It is also the aspect that will take the most practice to master. Use your first finger on the fifth fret and third finger on the seventh fret. If you fail to do this and allow notes on adjacent strings to ring together, it will negate the desired effect and sound like you are simply strumming a chord.

Sweep Picking lesson from Frank Gambale

This essentially means that when you play a scale, there will be a two-string mini-sweep whenever you move to an adjacent string. Remember, sweep gajbale is most effective when each note is cleanly separated from the last, so aim to have only one finger in contact with the fretboard sewep a time in order to keep the notes from ringing together.


Originally released init remains a must-watch video for anyone interested in developing a smooth sweep-picking technique.

It was Stockholm, Sweden, however that would produce the name most synonymous with sweeping in a rock context, one that gave rise to a guitar movement known as neoclassical heavy metal. Concentrate on the general down-up motion of your picking hand rather than each pick stroke.

Jazz players from the Fifties, such as Les Paul, Barney Kessel and Tal Farlow, would use the approach in their improvisations, and country guitar genius Chet Atkins was known to eschew his signature fingerstyle hybrid-picking technique from time to time and rip out sweep-picked arpeggios, proving that the technique is not genre specific. Only one string should be fretted at any time this is key! Here we utilize two-string sweeps with pentatonic shapes.

The thickness and sharpness of your pick will hugely impact the tone of your sweep picking. Be sure to follow the indicated picking directions. Attempting to emulate on his Fender Stratocaster the fluid, breathtaking passages Paganini would compose and play on violin, Malmsteen concluded that sweep picking was the perfect way to travel quickly from string to string with a smooth, fluid sound much like what a violinist can create with his bow.

Work from two strings up to six, keeping your metronome at the same tempo. Pay special attention to the picking directions in both the ascending and descending fragments.

The Bm7b5 B D F A arpeggio in bar 4 has a series of three-string sweeps combined with some challenging string skips. This means starting with eighth notes, and while this will feel very slow, the technique will become trickier with each successive note grouping: The descending section includes a pull-off on the high E string, which, although momentarily disruptive to your picking, is preferable to adding another downstroke.

The second set of five exercises handles some common sweep-picking approaches. Get the Tone In rock, this technique is best suited to Strat-style guitars, using the neck pickup setting for a warm, round tone. Keep your fingers flat against the two-string groups, and transfer pressure between strings using a rolling action to mute inactive strings and prevent notes from ringing together.


This major triad shape is an essential part of the Yngwie Malmsteen school of sweeping.


The first five exercises in this oicking are designed to give you a systematic approach to practicing the component movements of sweep picking: Focus on synchronizing your hands so that your pick and fretting fingers make contact with the string at exactly the eweep moment.

This example is reminiscent of players such as Jason Becker and Jeff Loomis. Economy picking requires that your pick take the shortest journey possible when crossing from string to string.

Move your pick at a constant speed to ensure the notes are evenly spaced.

Big Strokes: A Beginner’s Guide to Sweep Picking | Guitarworld

The alternating eighth-note triplet and quarter-note phrasing allows pickibg to focus on the picking pattern in small bursts and then rest for a beat. This teaches your picking hand to make smooth motions rather than two separate downward pocking upward strokes. If you have problems with string muting or note separation, apply some light palm muting to the notes as they are picked. Bar 12 is the trickiest part of the piece to play and utilizes some Jason Becker—inspired six-string shapes.

Once again, if you focus on nailing the highest and lowest notes along with the beat, the in-between notes should automatically fall into place. When ascending, use a single motion to pick all six strings, making sure only one note is fretted at a time. These are shown in one position and based on one chord type each, thus focusing your attention on the exercise until you have become accustomed to the technique. The second part of the piece has a more neoclassical approach and begins with some Yngwie-style three-string triads incorporating pull-offs.

Practicing each exercise with a metronome for just two minutes every day will improve your coordination and your confidence to use the technique in your own playing. The phrasing here is 16th-note quintuplets five notes per beat. This is an effective way to improve note clarity.

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