Tutorial: Easy Sweep Picking Chord Shapes

Sweep Picking is the technique where your pick travels from one string to the next one in one go. The less strings you use the easier the technique is. Sweep Picking is also easier when you pick across various strings which are all across the same fret. Sweep Picking chords is also sometimes called Raking the chords.

When Sweep Picking chords try to avoid the sweep sounding like a strum. The Sweep does have a slight hesitation where you can hear the indiviual string. Strumming a chord you may not hear the sound of the individual string. The quicker your sweep is the less noticeable is the sound of hesitation. Sweep Picking can be used in all kind of styles, it is just one of the handful of techniques you can use to spice up your playing. The chord shapes used for this tutorial will give you access to a smooth sound, which should not take you too long to master.

The first minor chordshape is related to the Em chord shape, but now played on the 5th fret as a partial Barre Chord. The second chord shape is related to the E but this time played as a partial Barre chord on the 8th fret.

            Am      C

      E —-5—–8—–

      B —-5—–8—–

      G —-5—–9—–

      D —-7—-10—–

      A —————–

      E —————–

  Play the chords in the following manner:

                      Am                                                                 C

                                          sw—ee—-p                                                 sw–ee–p
                 Bass             Down    Up    Down                           Bass           down

Count           1               and        2      and                                3               4

Notice the two chords are played as one bar and the C receives only the last 2 beats of the bar. Each chord starts off with a bassnote then followed by the sweep.

Here is a sequecene which uses the same two chord shapes but it plays across the fretboard and uses more chords:

          Am  C       Gm   Bb     Fm  Ab           Am

All minor chords and major chords do have similar shapes.
The Am and C are given in the tab above, for the Gm use Am shape starting at fret 3. Play the Bb using the C shape but now at 6th fret.  For the Fm play Am shape at 1st fret. Play the Ab chord similar as the C chord in the given tab but now at the 4th fret.
Finish sequence with the first Am chord and let this chord ring out for one bar, by doing so you do create a tasty contrast with the previous Ab major chord and the sound of the A minor chord.

Play attention to your sweeps, play all bars similar as the first, given one in the tab.

Once you start to get the sweep happening for the chords try some sweep picking over two strings for your solos: Create some phrases where you combine sweep picking and alternate picking. Once you can do this, extend the range of the sweep over more strings, also increase the number of frets apart from your strings. Ingwie Malmsteen is the master of this technique, but also Mark Knopfler uses the technique, have a listen to the end of the solo in “Sultans of Swing” to hear some great examples of tasteful sweep picking.

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again with more updates for your own guitar playing style.