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Rick Graham - Sweep Picking Part 8: 4 String Sweeps

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 23 **

Hi everyone and welcome back to my guitar lesson column in which we'll be continuing our studies of one of the most useful right hand techniques when it comes to soloing - sweep picking.

For a lot of players, sweep picking technique can prove to be quite a difficult guitar technique to implement into their arsenal especially when it comes to improvisation. So, for this issue, I'd like to talk about my particular approach to integrating sweep picking technique into my improvisations with the focus on making it sound as natural as possible.

One of the most effective ways I've found to do this is to use 'mini sweeps' (i.e. sweeps across a smaller number of strings) in combination with three notes per string. The effectiveness of this approach makes the sweep picking movement much more subtle. Also, it doesn't matter if you are primarily an economy picker or strictly alternate picker as both techniques can by employed with equally effective results.

A great way to apply this approach is to take a series of 7th arpeggios, all with their root note on the 5th string. However instead of just playing the notes of the arpeggio, what we will do is add the 9th degree to the arpeggio on the 3rd string.

So, let's start with an A major 7 arpeggio at the 12th fret of the 5th string. We will play fret 12 and 16 on the 5th string, fret 14 on the 4th string and frets 13, 14 and 16 on the 3rd string. This is the basic structure for the arpeggio so please be sure to consult the accompanying tab to get the full sequence.

In the video I execute the arpeggio with the following economy picking pattern: U, D, D, D, U, D, U, U, U, D but as mentioned before, you can use alternate picking to equal effect. The next step I use is to alter the formula of the arpeggio to give rise to various different seventh arpeggios. In the video, we apply this to 5 different 7th arpeggios which are: Major7, minor7, Dominant7, Min7b5 and diminished 7. The right hand picking pattern will remain exactly the same, as will the number of notes per string. The only thing that will change is the notes.

In my usual fashion, what I like to do to take it a little further is apply these arpeggios to each diatonic arpeggio. In the video I take the first four 7th chords in the key of A major: Amaj7, Bmin7, C#min7 and Dmaj7.

Of course, this is a good starting point, but be sure to mix these arpeggios up to create your own sounds.

As always, concentrate on control rather than just speed. OK, hope you enjoyed this lesson, see you next issue!


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