Sweep Picking Guitar Technique

Essentially sweep picking is an economical way of playing arpeggios on the guitar. It allows you to travel across the strings at fast tempos even when you have one note per string. The technique is very similar to strumming a chord but instead of letting the notes ring out you play each of them individually. 

The technique involves picking across consecutive strings using the same motion, either all down strokes or all upstrokes. Sweep picking is probably one of the hardest techniques to master but done well it can really help you stand out from the crowd. Check out the video link for some exercises to help you with this technique.

In this video masterclass I share my insights into the awesome guitar technique of Sweep Picking! One of the hardest techniques to truly master but totally worth the time! 

If you would like to explore more shapes and arpeggios and learn how I managed to tackle sweep picking in a few months check out my book 'The Ultimate Guitar Sweep Picking Book' available worldwide on amazon. Also available on Lulu as spiral bound paperback. 


As with everything you practice make sure you use a metronome and start super slow to make sure you are playing the lick correctly with the right fingers, technique and attack (it's fine to not use a metronome at first while first learning it).

I recommend starting at 60pm and use 8ths notes until you can play the lick without mistakes three or four times in a row then speed up the metronome by 5bpm. If you are really struggling playing the whole lick break it down to a bar or two. CLICK HERE to get a metronome.

The best way to really get any licks under your fingers is to practice them over a backing track and this may help inspire your own lick ideas as well. I have a free backing track channel http://www.killerbackingtracks.com

Best way to learn sweep picking on the guitar as a beginner?

  1. Start with basic sweep patterns: Begin by learning simple arpeggios, such as triads and seventh chords, using sweep picking. This will help you get the hang of the motion and muscle memory required for sweep picking. 
  2. Practice proper technique and alternate picking: Sweep picking involves simultaneously playing multiple strings with a sweeping motion of the pick. It is important to use alternate picking in combination with sweep picking to maintain consistent sound and timing. 
  3. Use a metronome: A metronome will help you improve your timing and accuracy while sweep picking. Start slow and gradually increase the tempo as you get more comfortable with the technique. 
  4. Slow down and focus on clean playing: Speed is not the most important factor when learning sweep picking. Instead, focus on playing each note cleanly and evenly, regardless of the speed. 
  5. Study and analyze guitar solos from players who excel in sweep picking: Study the playing of guitarists who are known for their sweep picking skills, such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, and John Petrucci. Analyze their sweep picking patterns and techniques, and try to incorporate them into your own playing. 

Remember, sweep picking takes time and patience to master. Regular practice and repetition will help you improve and eventually become proficient in this technique.

Do you need To play fast guitar licks with sweep picking?

No, you don't have to just play fast guitar licks with sweep picking on the guitar. While speed is often associated with sweep picking, it is not necessary to play fast to be considered a good sweep picker. You can use sweep picking in a variety of musical styles, both fast and slow, and still effectively utilize the technique. The important aspect of sweep picking is being able to smoothly and cleanly play multiple strings in one fluid motion, regardless of the speed. So, you can use sweep picking in a variety of tempos, from slow and expressive ballads to fast and intricate metal solos.