Sweep Picking Basics
The Left Hand
You may have gotten the sweep picking motion in the right hand correct but your licks might be sounding like chords instead of lines. It's almost as if you strummed the guitar. This is where your left hand is important.
Play any fretted note on the guitar. To stop playing that note, lift your finger off the fretboard just enough to stop the string vibrating. Do not lift your finger any further then you have to, you finger should actually still touch the guitar string. Just lift your left hand finger just a tiny bit, just enough to stop the string from vibrating and making a note. This is what your left hand needs to do every time you sweep to the next string.
Here is the lick again from Part I.
Play the first note of the lick, you should now continue your 'sweeping' motion as you move to the next string. As you start to pick the next string, raise your left hand finger slightly to stop the previous string from vibrating, continue with the lick repeating this same process. If done correctly it should now sound like a line instead of a chord.
The following is a step by step method of playing the above sweeping lick.
- - picking the first note (7th fret on the G string)
- as you continue your sweep through the next note (6th fret on the B string), slightly lift your fretting finger off the previous note (7th fret on the G string) to stop the string from vibrating
- continue this same process up to the 5th fret on the E string
- continue back down using an upstroke playing the 5th fret on the E string again
- continue the sweep down through the rest of the lick, lifting your left hands fingers slightly when the note needs to end.
Practicing Sweep Picking
Its important to start extremely slow. Many people say they can sweep, but you can only here the bottom and top notes and everything is muffled in between. By practicing slow and gradually gaining speed you ensure that you can hear each note individually, that each note is played as long as it should be played and that you're playing with proper technique.