How to Play "Whipping" Sweep Arpeggios

In this lesson, I’m going to show you how to expand your sweep picking skills by adding slides to create a chaotic, whipping sound.

I’m going to show you two different patterns, then combine them to create longer runs all the way down the neck.

Let’s jump right into our first example in the key of D minor.

EXAMPLE 1 is a diatonic sweep pattern starting in the 17th position. For this example, I slide between positions by utilizing slides on the high E string. To create a whipping sound, accent the slides as much as possible with your fourth finger. This riff ends with a short D minor pentatonic run in the 10th position.

Moving on to EXAMPLE 2, I take the same sweep as our first example, but this time shift down to the 10th position using a slide on the G string. For this example, I accent the slide with my third finger. This riff also ends with a short run with the D minor pentatonic scale.

For EXAMPLE 3, we take the slides of EXAMPLES 1 and 2 and combine them into a longer descending run. This example starts with the same sweep in the 17th position, but this time, we utilize slides on the G and E strings to reach the pentatonic run in the 10th position. To bring out the whipping effect, be sure to focus on exaggerating the slides between positions as much as possible. Remember, how you play a riff is often more important than executing every note perfectly.

EXAMPLE 4 takes things one step further by extending our sweep patterns down the neck to the fifth position. I achieve this by utilizing slides on the high E , B and G strings. In each position, I play notes that are diatonic to D minor. This example ends with a short blues run in the fifth position.

When soloing, you can sweep any combination of notes that are in a key—not just diatonic arpeggios. A lot of shredders get stuck only sweeping arpeggio shapes, but sweep picking can be utilized in many different ways. Try coming up with sweep patterns of your own and use exaggerated slides to shift between positions. Hopefully using this whipping slide technique will help break you out of your comfort zone and ultimately expand your dynamic range on the guitar.


Sammy Boller is the guitarist for the Detroit rock band Citizen Zero. They’re touring and recording their first full-length album with Al Sutton and Marlon Young (Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Uncle Kracker). In 2012, Boller was selected by Joe Satriani as a winner of Guitar Center’s Master Satriani competition. He studied music at the University of Michigan. For more about Boller, or to ask him a question, write to him at or follow him on Twitter.

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