How To Play Powerful Sweep Picking Arpeggio Licks

Author: Ed Cupler

Want to improve your sweep picking technique and use it to add power to your guitar phrases? There are countless guitar players who know how to play basic arpeggio patterns, but only a handful who understand how to use sweep picking to enhance their lead guitar playing. In this article, you will learn how to become highly expressive using sweep picking together with other techniques and unique phrasing approaches.

In order to play powerful sweep picking arpeggios that enhance your lead guitar licks, you must avoid the frequent error made by most guitarists – ‘only’ playing arpeggios as fast as possible. When you only focus on playing fast, you get into the habit of thinking about ‘speed’ rather than the musical quality of what you are playing. As a result, your sweep picking is doomed to be nothing more than a flashy ‘side show’ at best rather than an incredible tool for musical expression. To really squeeze the most value out of sweep picking technique, you of course need to understand how to play the actual patterns BUT you must also understand how to build intense musical tension.

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To help you build tension and play intense sweep picking licks, I have created a unique exercise for you to practice. Before you read the exercise below, watch the free sweep picking video below to understand the concepts I will be talking about. This will drastically increase your ability to retain the information and quickly apply it to improve your sweep picking.

Ok, now that you have watched the entire video above, you are ready to complete the following steps to integrate what you learned into your sweep picking technique.

Step #1 – In this first step, pick out an arpeggio pattern that is easy for you to play at high speeds (while retaining as much accuracy as possible). Warm up by playing through this pattern several times.

Step #2 – Think of the names for each note that make up the arpeggio you picked from step one. For instance, if the arpeggio you picked was an A minor arpeggio, the notes would be A C and E.

Step #3 – When you watched the video mentioned above, you learned how to create a massive amount of tension in your phrases by simply delaying the next note in a given arpeggio. Now, play the arpeggio in the first step many times. Then, suddenly ‘mute’ all the strings after playing the highest pitch in your arpeggio.

Step #4 – Now, find and select another note from the notes of the arpeggio that is higher in pitch than the note you just played (only find the note, don’t play the note for now). In other words, if you picked an A minor arpeggio in the first step and ended your phrase on a ‘E’ note, find any of the other notes from the A minor arpeggio (A C or E) that can be played above this note. During this step, you are inserting ‘silence’ into your arpeggio pattern in order to build tension in the phrase.

Step #5 – After creating a lot of tension by waiting only a few moments, play the note you just identified to ease this tension. Then immediately add tons of intensity to the lick by adding heavy vibrato to this note.

Step #6 – Think of many more unique variations by adding a delay to the vibrato you just used and using the other techniques shown in the video on this page.

Then after you have come up with several new variations, choose a new arpeggio pattern and repeat the steps of this exercise. This will quickly help you become much more effective at playing creative, attention-grabbing sweep picking arpeggios. Additionally, learn how to play amazing guitar licks one note at a time with the ideas in this free electric guitar licks video.

To learn how to play guitar fast and combine your phrasing skills with jaw-dropping speed, study this free guitar speed mini course.

About The Author:Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, songwriter and a pro guitarist. He uses the best online guitar lessons to train guitar players to reach their musical goals. Go to to get more guitar playing resources, guitar playing eBooks, and to read more guitar playing articles.

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