Guitar World Year in Review: The Top 10 Guitar Lessons of 2013
From John Petrucci to Jimmy Page, here are GW's most popular lessons of the year!
01. A Clean Sweep: Mastering Sweep Arpeggios by John Petrucci
I always get frustrated when I hear someone talking about sweep arpeggios.
Though there are plenty of licks and examples out there, no one has ever really broken down the mechanics of the technique. As a result, guitarists have had to figure them out by trial and error. This became all the more evident when I was teaching.
My students repeatedly made the same mistake: they'd hold a barre chord while articulating each note. To play sweep arpeggios correctly, you have to mute each note with the left hand immediately after picking it.
The best way to learn sweep picking is to first isolate the right- and left-hand techniques, master them separately and then coordinate them. Let's begin with the right hand. Basically, you have to let the pick "fall" from string to string as if you were strumming a chord. Don't try to separate the pick strokes!
This technique feels weird at first, but picture your right hand as a Slinky going down from step to step-just let it fall. When executing an upstroke sweep, drag the pick upwards over the strings. Keep your hand loose and relaxed, as if it were being lifted by a string tied around your wrist.
Now let's look at the left hand. In order to use the sweeping technique, you can only play one note per string. As I noted earlier, you need to mute each string with the left hand immediately after picking it to keep the notes from "bleeding" into each other and sounding like an ordinary strummed chord. FIGURE 1 is an atonal-sound sweep picking exercise that is designed to coordinate you left-hand muting and right-hand sweeping techniques. Practice it slowly at first, concentrating on keeping the notes separate and distinct. The try playing it faster.
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