Integrating sweep picking with other techniques

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Integration is the key

Sweep picking is a one-of-a-kind technique. It's so radically different to perform than alternate and economy picking (Though it is closer to the latter) For a long time I wondered why I wasn't using sweep picking very much when I was soloing. Even though I was very good at it, I didn't use that technique very much. Then I pin pointed the problem and found out that I needed to integrate the technique with my other picking styles in order for it to flow naturally. Integration is a concept that I overlooked completely when I was first starting out. I used to know a lot of pretty impressive runs and licks, but I couldn't really connect them into anything musical.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Muhammad Ali

A perfect blend

When ever you've learned to use a new technique it's very important that you spend som time integrating it with what you already know and master. The cool thing about this is that it's a lot of fun! when you've spend enough time on this process, sweep picking will blend in perfectly with all your other techniques and you wont even think about when you are using what technique. The outcome is to teach the brain to use what ever technique suits the purpose best.

A-Minor integration Example 1

The first lick is really simple. I go down the A-Minor harmonic scale and connect it with the A-Minor arpeggio on the A-string

The rules of the game

If you skip this process how ever, you will not develop the kind of freedom that I know you want. The whole point of building killer skills is so that we're able to have more fun and there's nothing more satisfying than to be able to set yourself free on the fretboard. If you have to think and evaluate every note you play, you are not really enjoying yourself.

Here's the rules of the game:

1. Come up with a simple lick that uses sweep picking and another picking technique

2. Repeat that lick until it's easy

3. Come up with another lick and repeat the process

A-Minor Integration Example 2

The second lick is constructed in the same way as number one, only in a different position and with different patterns. It's very useful to find ways to come into and out of the arpeggio patterns at the bottom and top of them.

3 examples of integration

I created the licks in today's video in this way. They are simple and very straight forward but they include both economy picking and sweep picking. Create your own licks and practice them until they feel comfortable to you. You aren't supposed to remember every lick that you create, just practice it until you master it, then forget about it and create another lick. Then, every time you pick up you guitar, come up with a new phrase that utilises at least on technique besides sweep picking and go through this very simple process.

"I forced myself to play for one hour every day. One hour was a long time, because I was a total beginner and didn't know how to play anything!"

Paul Gilbert

The smaller the better

You might want to start with something less massive than the licks in today's video. Try playing a four note sweep, then mix it with some notes from the scale and then return to the four note sweep. The more manageable and simple the ideas are, the greater the chance that you will actually use them in a real life situation. Remember, the licks you come up with doesn't have to be great art, just come up with something, repeat it several times, then move on to another one. Don't be critical of yourself in this process but play, play, play and then play some more. Have fun!

A-Minor Integration Example 3

The third example is a little more colorful. Now spend some time with each arpeggio pattern, coming up with licks that integrate the pattern with it's surrounding A-Minor scale.