Sweep picking is kicking my ass!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by bbarnard, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. Thwap

    Thwap Silver Supporting Member

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    Yep, I learned like jzucker is explaining it. You definitely don't want to have to reorient the angle of your pick everytime you change direction from a downward sweep to an upward sweep.
     
  2. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I would only add that pursuit of a particular technique can be worthwhile and advantageous even if you don't ultimately master it. There have been a variety of such frustrations/rewards, for myself - among them, hybrid picking, Travis picking, slide playing in general - that I struggled with for years before finally (slowly) adding them to the practical toolbox of the bandstand and recording studio. I went through the same process with sweep picking, and it ultimately never came around. I did the Gambale books, even had one-on-one instruction from Frank, did the metronome, analyzed both hands, did the time, and - nope, not in the cards for me. I firmly believe that this sort of thing only further validates the prospect of the human condition; we're not all meant to be good at all things, as some folks are not mechanically inclined, and some can't swim or float.

    However, the time I invested into sweep picking was time well spent. It did ultimately allow me to be fluent with backwards and forward 'rakes', and generally cleaned up my arpeggio approach. So really, it "worked". I suspect that the fact that I did not carry/have not carried the concept further is mostly due to a marriage of two things: 1.) limited technical facility on my part; 2.) not being hit squarely in the gut by music in which the technique has been presented as a primary component; that is, I was/am ultimately more intrigued by other concepts and devices.

    In any event, go for it, plug away. The worst that can happen is that there will be practical side benefits.

    Frank G. told me that during his formative years of developing the technique, he practiced 'up against the wall' for an hour each day, as to limit travel of the fingers, and to force economy of motion. It has obviously worked for him.
     
  3. jaimo

    jaimo Member

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    Great post, Tim. Thanks!
     
  4. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    So does that mean he stood facing the wall? I've practiced in fairly small walk-in closets for privacy and to minimize distractions, but I've never heard of doing that!
     
  5. GtrWiz

    GtrWiz Member

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    practice sssllllooooowwwww...
     
  6. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

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    That has to be what he meant. That would limit hand movement away from the strings when picking and force the hand to remain in the same plane parallel to the guitar, more or less. I can't imagine doing that for an hour a day - maybe attaching a board to a mic stand would be more tolerable.

    littlemoon
     
  7. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Yes, Frank said that he spent time practicing while facing the wall during the early years. I too logged in many hours standing in the corner during my youth, but there was usually no guitar involved... I was mostly sporting a dunce cap at the time. *grins*
     
  8. Dana

    Dana Guest

    This is a great post. I've had Frank Gambale's book sweep picking for years, but after many, many hours of practice I was never able to get the sweep thing happening for me. I also have the DVD. Every once in awhile I look at them and work on it. But, like Tim said, it just may not be in the cards for me.
     
  9. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    I don't believe it. With hard work, anyone can learn to do sweep picking or any other kind of picking. The key is patience. When you're a kid, you are like a sponge - Quickly and efficiently absorbing new ideas, techniques, etc. Additionally, kids tend to be able to have long term goals and not be judgemental about their lack of short-term progress.

    As an adult, people tend to be saturated and find it harder to shrug off old habits and learn new ones. That doesn't mean it's not possible or it's not in you. What it means is that you may have to put some time and work and have patience and manage your expectations.

    About 5 years ago, frustrated with the progress I was making with my picking technique, I embarked up re-learning my approach to the instrument and though I'm an old dog with limited time, I worked out a program and patiently practiced the material daily without expecting overnight results. In fact, it took several years in total but the effort was worth it.

    I think anyone can learn a new technique if they're truly motivated.
     
  10. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    That "if" towers over all other words on the thread. ;)
     
  11. Dana

    Dana Guest

    You're probably right. But, like someone else already stated, if you're not into the kind of music that uses that technique frequently, you're not going to spend a lot of time on it.

    I personally would rather shed Charlie Parker heads on all 12 keys, and memorize standards, then work on sweep picking. But that's just me. Other people have different priorities.

    What I meant by, 'it's not in the cards for me" is that it's simply not one of my higher musical priorites. For me, personally.

    Just my opinion.
     
  12. Thwap

    Thwap Silver Supporting Member

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    Jzucker...I completely agree. I started buying into some people have it and some don't, then got stubborn, about 2 years worth of stubborn. I can sweep, and if I can sweep, anyone can sweep. It's just a matter of HOW BAD do you wanna sweep. I see guys in some other forums I visit saying things like "that sweepings impressive...doesn't look that hard, think I'll give it a go". Haven't heard any of em yet come back and say, "yep took me better part of a week but I got it now". For me, and I've been playing 30+ years, it's the most difficult technique I've learned. So if you wanna do it...you can...but you gotta reeeaaaallly wanna:dude
     
  13. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    And I'm sure that's part of my problem. I play mostly blues and there isn't much call for sweep picking in what I play.
     
  14. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    I've found a lot of the sweep picking techniques to be applicable to SRV-type rakes and such...
     
  15. rpavich

    rpavich Member

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    One of the things that hasn't been brought out is this: sweeping has "a sound" and if you devote tons of time to be a "sweep picker" and be good at it...then you "sound" a certain way.

    the issue I had after sweep picking for a year non stop was that frequently, soloing thru songs using sweep picking doesn't fit. You know "hey lets play a blues"...well...your 3 note per string sweeps that you've spent so much time on? nope..won't go..

    It fits in Fusion style stuff, modal jazz...things where that is more accepted but playing a solo in a pop song? now you're leaning on your old chops...it's impressive but it's like a typewriter....

    I finally had to accept the fact that since I don't play a lot of fusion and I play more pop/vocal stuff; and my preference is for "chord tone hitting" earlier jazz...then I'm better off just using the occasional burst of sweeping for effect...

    One good side benefit of learning this stuff (2 hrs a day; every day for a year) was I learned all of my arps and triads and things all over the neck...

    PS: anybody wanna buy a Gambale Modes/chopsbuilder video cheap? :)
    bob
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    It's a technique that can be used when appropriate. It's no different that learning to play with alternate picking or pick and fingers or with your thumb.
     
  17. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    The same could be said about any technique rpavich. Each technique gives it's sound and a technical skill to execute certain ideas is all they are.

    I know what you meant though some guys who sweep three octave arps up and down gets old real fast. I'm not a big Frank Gambale fan either. I'm sure some will think I'm nuts, but he sets up all his licks for that. Like working around the technique instead of the melody. So he can go fast. But then that economy picking thing he does with high gain tends to fuzz the notes together, because he tries to play so fast the notes aren't articulate enough. I hate that sound, it sounds sloppy to me, and I don't care how many changes he's playing over. The notes run together and he just cares about fast.
     
  18. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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  19. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Just MHO. I have a couple cds and just don't get into him. Maybe he sounds good playing clean. But when he goes for his fast stuff on that high gain, the notes run too much for me. My buddy used to tell me stories from GIT about how he'd go about setting those licks up, but that was years ago. I haven't listened to anything he's done in awhile.
     
  20. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Member

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    I'm with you. Try as I might, I guess I just don't "get it"...
    I wish I could do those flashy sweeps. :(
     

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