The Key To Playing Awe-Inspiring Sweep Picking Arpeggios

by Tom Hess

Tired of playing bland, repetitive sweep picking arpeggios? Although there are many guitarists who can sweep pick, there are only a few who can use the technique to creatively express themselves. In this article, I will show you an exercise that will help you not only become a better sweep picker, but understand how to transform any arpeggio into an incredible lead guitar lick that demands attention.

To use sweep picking as a tool that will ‘enhance’ the expression, you MUST avoid the following: only thinking about speed while playing sweep picking arpeggios. Why should you avoid this? When you only (and always) try to play an arpeggio lick as fast as you can, you sacrifice the musical quality of the lick for speed. The result of this is a continual stream of the same notes being played over and over – making your sweep picking licks sound like boring ‘exercises’ instead of awesome phrases. To play inspiring sweep picking arpeggios that demand the attention of others, you must play with speed and precision while ALSO building up an overwhelming feeling of tension.

With this in mind, I am now going to show you an exercise that will help you change any arpeggio into a powerful tool for expressing intensity in your guitar licks. That said, you don’t have to be a master lead guitar player in order to use the idea I will be teaching you. Get started by checking out this sweep picking arpeggios video to get the maximum benefit from the exercise below (it will help you understand precisely what you are supposed to be doing):



… Did you watch the video already? If not, watch it now (you’ll be glad you did). If you did watch it, continue reading the steps in the exercise below.

1. Select any given three string arpeggio pattern that you are able to play accurately. Play this arpeggio 3-5 times.

2. Now think of the specific note names that build the arpeggio you just played. Ex: If you picked out a C minor arpeggio, this arpeggio is made of notes C, Eb and G.

3. After watching the demonstration in the video, you found out that you can build powerful intensity by inserting silence before the next note in an arpeggio. While watching the video to see how this is done, play the arpeggio you picked from step one several times. Then after you have repeated the pattern enough times, immediately mute all the strings after you play the highest pitch of the arpeggio.

4. In this step, you will simply be ‘waiting’ a few moments in order to insert silence into your lick and begin building musical tension. As you are doing this, find one of the notes from the arpeggio you picked that is higher in pitch than the note you ended on in the previous step. Ex: If you picked a C minor arpeggio and you ended your phrase on a ‘G’, find one of the other notes of the arpeggio (C, Eb or G) that are higher in pitch on the fretboard. Do not play this note yet.

5. Next, play the note you selected from the previous step in order to release all the tension you built up. Finally, add incredible power to the entire phrase by using wide vibrato to accent this note. After doing this, you have successfully made a single variation of the sweep picking arpeggio pattern you began this exercise with.

6. Once you have completed steps one through five, you have created a new sweep picking lick (that is different from the original lick you started out with). Experiment with various new approaches by using the other phrasing ornamentations I demonstrated in the video above.

Do steps 1-6 with at least three different arpeggio patterns. After repeating this exercise several times, you will see a huge improvement in not only the overall intensity in your sweep picking arpeggios, but the quality of your lead guitar playing as well. Become a great lead guitar player by using the concepts in this free electric guitar licks video.

To improve your speed on guitar and have more creative freedom when applying your phrasing skills, study this free mini course on guitar speed development .


About The Author: Tom Hess is an online electric guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitarist. He trains guitar players from around the world how to reach their musical goals in his correspondence guitar lessons online. Visit his website to receive many free guitar playing resources, mini courses, guitar practice eBooks, and to read more articles about guitar playing.

The 5 Biggest Myths About Breaking Into The Music Industry

By Tom Hess

Looking for a way to make it in the music industry? Before you can begin building a successful music career and reaching your goals as a professional musician, you must forget about everything you have heard about ‘how the music business works’. Fact is, there is a TON of misinformation on this topic that leads most musicians to fail in their careers. For example, here is a fact about the music business that you may not have been aware of:

Throughout the year, music companies around the world receive endless amounts of recordings from talented musicians. Many of the musicians who send their music to companies have been working to develop their musical skills since they were young. That said, the overwhelming majority of these musicians will not hear back from the companies they send their music to. The majority of music companies do not bother listening to everything they are sent. This leaves most musicians without a clue about why they can’t seem to ‘catch their big break’ in spite of their musical talent.

That said, there are many musicians who DO make it in music and go on to achieve great success. Building a music career and making a great living really isn’t as difficult as you might think. However, before you can do this you must abandon the methods used by unsuccessful musicians. Here are the five worst approaches for breaking into the music industry that you must avoid:

1. Thinking That A Degree In Music Will Help You Become Successful In The Music Industry

Many musicians think that going to university to get a degree in music is a great way to break into the music industry. In reality, going to university for music may increase your musical knowledge, but it will NOT guarantee your success as a professional musician. Here’s why:

a)   Most music courses do not cover the specific topic of ‘how to build a music career’. Even if you take classes about music business, they will only present you with a general model of how the music business works. They will NOT show you exactly how to build a successful career for yourself (by keeping your personal goals in mind). In fact, there are tons of musicians who graduate from big music universities only to realize that they are still clueless when it comes to actually earning a living through music. If you go to university with the intention of getting into the music business with a degree, you will ‘at best’ learn a lot about music – but end up back at square one in terms of building a music career. At worst, you will also have enormous amounts of fees and debts to pay back.

b)   People who work in the music industry are not concerned with whether you have a music degree or not. To them, it is MUCH more important that you know how to help them build their music careers, earn more money and become more successful (this requires a lot more than just musical talent). Learn how to become the ‘right’ musician to work with other successful pro musicians and music companies by filling out this pro musician assessment.

In reality, very few professional musicians have music degrees because they simply never needed them. They made it in the music business with music career mentoring where they learned all the skills they needed to build value for others and earn a great living in music.

2. Taking Music Career Advice From Others Who Have Never Succeeded In The Music Industry

Chances are, you have already received a lot of advice from the people in your life about what you should do to become successful in your music career. Most people will be happy to give out ‘expert’ tips or conventional wisdom even when they really have no authority to do so. Generally speaking, these people are sincere in wanting to help you, but since they have never achieved anything significant in the music industry, their advice is more likely to send you down the wrong path than to lead you toward success.

Consider this: Asking people for music career advice (when they have never actually succeeded in the music business) is like training for a marathon with a trainer who hasn’t run a mile in his life or asking your dentist for legal advice. Additionally, asking advice from musicians who attempted to succeed in music (and failed) is equally as dangerous for your music career. Although these people are perfectly willing to tell you how you should build your music career, they do not really have the authority to do so – they will only lead you down the same path they took (which ended in failure).

Truly successful musicians do not build their careers from the ‘conventional wisdom’ of people they know or amateur musicians who never made it. They work together with a mentor who has already achieved great success and can use his experience to help them effectively reach their music career goals.

3. Uploading Your Music To Different Websites Online To Earn Money And Get ‘Discovered’

One of the biggest questions musicians ask themselves when it comes to building a successful music career is “How do I get my music out there?” Most musicians believe that the answer to this question is uploading your songs to various websites online and waiting to ‘get discovered’ by new fans and people in the music industry. In reality, musicians who use this approach will only get their music heard by a handful of people at best (and NOT by the ‘right’ people who need to hear it) and will never earn a lot of money in the music industry. Here’s why:

·         They do not know how to effectively promote their music.

·         They don’t already have a massive following of fans who are ready to buy their music as soon as it is released.

·         They have no strategy for attracting new fans while simultaneously transforming their current fans into true FANATICS.

·         They do not have a strategy to help them earn a living through multiple sources of income at once.

Musicians who achieve the greatest success in their music careers do NOT merely upload their music online and wait around to get discovered. They create a strategy for working toward their musical goals while raising their personal value in the eyes of other in the music industry (by expanding their fan base and building other important music business skills). After doing this, they simply approach the companies they want to do business with and negotiate a partnership that will bring the most benefit to both sides of the deal. Learn more about this process by reading this free resource about getting signed to a record deal.

4. Working A Full Time Job While Building Your Music Career ‘On The Side’

Many musicians believe that they must work a steady-paying and secure job while pursuing their music career on the side. They think that you can only attempt to break into the music industry after spending many years working and saving the money you make at your day job. As someone who has helped a lot of musicians develop successful music careers, I can tell you that nearly all people who think this will end up working at an unsatisfying job until they retire. Additionally, these types of people are usually too busy working at their jobs to work on building their music careers. One of the worst things that can happen is that you watch your dreams pass you by and regret it later on. Truth is, the more you work in a non-musical field, the less time you have available to pursue becoming a successful pro musician.

To effectively get into the music business and build a long-lasting, successful career you must plan your time around your musical goals. Although you may currently need to work at a full time job, you can still build your music career by using a powerful ‘backup plan’. The best backup plan will be a safe and secure one that gives you the ability to transition out of your day job while gradually spending more time working on your music without leaving you financially broke. Learn how to create your own music career backup plan by watching this pro musician video.

5. Trying To Get Into The Music Business Alone

One of the most difficult ways to build a career in music is to try to do it alone. While using this approach, you are forced to advance your career through either trial-and-error or by copying what other people do. Without the training of an experienced and successful mentor, you will drastically decrease your chances of taking the right actions to move your career forward in the direction you want. Additionally, copying what others do will not help you because what works for them may not work for you (in your specific situation). When these approaches don’t work you will either:

a)   Give up on making it in music and return to working 40 hours per week at a job you loathe. OR

b)   Waste countless hours, days, months and years trying to make it in music… only to fail and become increasingly frustrated.

If you are 100% dedicated to becoming a successful professional musician, you MUST begin working with a mentor who can show you how to reach your music career goals in the shortest amount of time possible (because this person has already achieved them). Get music career mentoring now and start building a successful career as a professional musician.

Fill out this free pro musician assessment to learn how you can become highly valued by those in the music industry.



About The Author: Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, recording artist and music career coach. As a music career coach, he helps musicians from many countries break into the music industry. On his music instruction website you can find out how to become a pro musician and learn how the music industry works.