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Why Sweep Picking is So Difficult

For some reason, sweep picking infatuates a large segment of the guitar community. Perhaps it’s due to the flashy visual nature of the technique. Maybe it’s because the robotic sound hypnotizes us into a trance, manipulating us with its cyclical sound.

Whatever it is, one thing is certain: sweep picking isn’t easy to learn—but not for the reasons you might think.

The truth is, on the surface, sweep picking is no more difficult than any other technique. You’d think it would be as simple as choosing a pattern, grabbing a metronome and putting in the work, right? The enigma of sweep picking is truly demonstrated when you sit down to learn the technique. You start slowly, as you should, and things seem to be going swimmingly.

As you make your way through the pattern, your discipline suddenly waivers and you abruptly speed up to failure.

“Ugh, stop trying to shred so fast! Slow it down, dude,” you utter to yourself. You’re starting to feel a little impatient, but the skill is of sweep picking is worth the effort. You try again.

As you’re playing, a small voice in your ear whispers, “Faster… .” You speed up again, tripping over yourself.

You jerk your head around to find the voice, but nobody’s there. You’re beginning to lose your nerves, but you decide to give it one more shot.

As soon as you get through one series of the sweep picking pattern, however, the diabolical voice returns, louder and more aggressive. “Faster, faster… FASTER! WIDDLY WIDDLY WIDDLY!”

You look over in horror to see a tiny devilish beast on your shoulder shrieking in your ear. The truth is revealed as to why sweep picking is so hard: there are evil demons that don’t want you to succeed.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.