Sweep Picking - Using it in a musical context.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by swimrunner, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. swimrunner

    swimrunner Member

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    So, I've been chopping away at sweep picking for some time now, and I think I'm more or less comfortable enough throwing a five string one into an lead bit and staying on tempo / keeping the feel there. My question is though, how do you guys typically put sweeps into your playing? I dig Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and lots of other shredders, but not everybody does. Integrating sweeps into musical genres other than shred or modern metal seems pretty tough.

    I'm not necessarily talking a particular genre, just whatever sounds good. How do you guys typically throw in sweeps to your playing? (artist examples, videos, tabbed licks, whatever)
     
  2. 66Park

    66Park Member

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    It works great in any style when you're crossing strings. I use it a lot, and don't play any "shredding" stuff. I use it pretty much any time I'm playing arpeggios. Sweep picking isn't an invention of the shredders. For instance, Barney Kessel used sweep picking in jazz decades ago.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  3. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    +1, it's used in lots of styles. Many spanish players use it. Gypsy-jazz guitar playing always use it too! I love how Django used it so musically, as well as Yngwie. Believe it or not, those two guys have quite a bit in common in their technique approach. They make the techniques a true part of their playing, and it doesn't seem like a gimmick or excercise the way a typical shredder would do it. Sometimes it sounds so cheezy when a guy who is mainly an alternate picker goes into "sweep mode". You can tell he's thinking okay I'm doing these three octave sweep picking and then going into..whatever. It's very mechanical and contrived.

    Even EJ does it a lot but incorportates it as part of his normal approach, and it's so subtle. I used to think they were alternate picking a lot of stuff, but they aren't.
    I bet those guys never thought of it as "sweeps", just their normal playing and that's why it works so well in their music. The technique just came about as a vehicle to acheive the music that's in their head, not the other way around.

    Oh and SRV did some of that stuff too. It's found in lots of music just not so obvious as in a rock player would make it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  4. swimrunner

    swimrunner Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far. So, in other words, don't think about the general exercise shapes (say, five-string Am7 starting at the 12th fret) and just use sweeping if it fits whatever was going to come out anyways. That makes sense, although what was I looking for was kind of... phrasing tips I guess.

    I'm additionally guessing that in any case, three / four string sweeps are easier to use in terms of not sounding out of place / like an exercise.
     
  5. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

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    Frank Gambale anyone? How about Jimmy Bruno.

    One fusion guy and another jazz guy. They do it a lot and Frank Gambale is the sweep picking master.
     
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    I sweep all the time and I've never played shred music. I use it in straight ahead jazz contexts as well as soul, r+b, funk and pop stuff.

    As far as phrasing tips I'd say that you should be able play a sweep in any rhythm like you would with any other picking technique. You don't have to keep each note perfectly even, you should be able to swing a sweep if you want. What can help is when you need a pause rest your pick on the next string after you pluck a note. And yeah, a 3 or 4 note thing is going to be easier to work in than an extended shred arpeggio.
     
  7. swimrunner

    swimrunner Member

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    Swinging a sweep? Never thought about it, but that sounds like something fun to try.
     
  8. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Like I said, I sweep A LOT, but chances are you wouldn't even really notice it's a sweep unless you watched my picking hand. I use a lot of slurs, hammers, pull offs, etc too- all trying to get my playing to sound more vocal or horn like.
     
  9. 3Sides

    3Sides Member

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    I think I know what your asking. Its that typical 2- 3 octave, 5-6 string sweep that you can hear from a mile away. It sounds cool/looks cool, but it sticks out like a sore thumb. If you want to put it into a solo put it someplace unexpected, but appropriate, and only do it once. Also since its such a sonic dagger, I often will only use it on the way up, or down, not both so its not such a cliche. It also helps to sweep into a melodic phrase. It goes down easier when the technical, sterile sounding sweep leads into a nice tasty phrase. Or others have said here, it should sound natural.

     
  10. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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  11. Birddog

    Birddog Member

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    Joseph beat me to it. I toss a bit of sweeping into our Santana covers, too...just because it fits so well with with Carlos type patterns. I don't worry about the timing of each note either, as another poster said. I just consider the 'sweep' to be a single beat, or two beats. If you divide that by 5 times, there's no way it's going to be perfectly timed but it's usually fast enough that it fits.
     
  12. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Armchair Rocket Scientist Graffiti Existentialist Gold Supporting Member

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    I think the trick to using flashier techniques is to not force them into what you're playing. IMHO, they need to fit in the context with what you're playing. So many players seem like their checking things off a list when they play, like... squeely? check. doublestop bend? check. palm muted ascending penta lick? check. sweep arpeggios? check.

    FWIW, I swept a 2 octave arpeggio on this track towards the end (around 3:57). Same kind of thing that Rothery did on Marillion's song Easter, I think. I didn't really think about it at the time, it just sort of happened and sounded cool so I kept it.

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=568460&songID=4157320
     

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