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Sweeping arpeggio technique – reader questions

learn to shred arpeggios

Arpeggios, arpeggios. You guitar players just can’t get enough of sweeping arpeggios! ;-) Since posting my guitar arpeggio videos on LoserTube I’ve been getting lots of email questions about how to practice them. My first reaction is always, “Why are you asking me? Go ask someone who knows, like Rusty Cooley!”

But because 1) it’s rude not to answer (polite) questions, and 2) I want to share the answers with as many people as possible, I’ve recently decided to answer your guitar-related questions here on my blog rather than in email.

Right then, enough background. Let’s get to today’s question!

John Oentoro emailed to ask:

Hi Ms. Lori, I’m John and I’ve stumbled upon your lesson/article on playing fast. I love it. I understand playing in 16th notes which is 4 notes played every beat. How do you play sweeping arpeggios to a metronome, though? Is it the same 16th note technique? Please use an easy example, something like an Amaj arpeggio (not the rolling one) hehe.

John, you can play ANYTHING YOU WANT to a metronome. You just need to set the metronome to the time signature that fits what you want to practice. When you practice arpeggios, for example, you don’t have to stick to sixteenth notes. You can play triplets, or dotted thirty-second notes, or whatever the heck kind of notes you want. I’m not sure how much you know about music theory, but the basics about meter and time signatures are useful to know. (Readers, please post in comments if you know of good online tutorials about time signatures, meter and note values.)

Because you asked so nicely, John, I’ve braved tabbing hell to create a couple of examples for you. The two examples incorporate the same number of notes, but they are arranged in different rhythmic groupings. The first uses straight sixteenth notes in 3/4 time, the second uses eighth note triplets in 4/4 time. Same notes, different feel.

Aaug sweep with sixteenths 3/4 time (guitar pro 5 file)
a major sweeping arpeggio, sixteenth-note pattern

Aaug sweep with triplets in 4/4 (guitar pro 5 file)
a major sweeping arpeggio, triplet pattern

I hope this clears things up for you, John. If you have any more questions, please post in comments rather than email so that everyone can benefit from the discussion :-)

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+ Comment by --=MR.JOE=--
2007-07-10 10:14:56

Look I just watched some of those Rusty Cooley videos and he’s ridiculous. He’s got some kind of Cosmic Ray enhanced Reed Richards pinky that can stretch from the toilet to the closet to grab a roll of TP if he needs to. My pinky is like a thumb. This really makes me want to go out stomping on other guitarists hands.

Thanks for the lesson Lori!

Always Hot and Fresh!

+ Comment by Per
2007-07-10 14:43:46

Dear Lori
I really don’t want to be annoying – but :
To construct a Amajor6 arpeggio I’m pretty sure you need a F# instead of a natural F – so the highest note should be on the 14th fret instead of the 13th.
Still it is a pretty good Amajor / Aaug arpeggio :-)
Keep up the good work :-)

PS – it was cool meeting you at SoP in Copenhagen – you are so nice

+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-07-10 16:13:21

MrJoe: Rusty Cooley is awesome. I like him more for his twisted licks than for the hyper-fast playing. He has got monster hands — there are some stretches he does that are just insane, but that sound really cool.
Per: Thanks, the note is tabbed correctly for what I had in mind; it’s just my chord naming that’s off. That’s what I get for insisting on getting this post out the door at 3 am after two glasses of red wine! I’ve fixed it now. And yes, Copenhagen was fun! I remember everyone lined up very politely and took turns during the meet-n-greet. That sure never happened before or since!

+ Comment by Robert
2007-07-13 06:36:46

Just found your site. Great stuff!

I used to practice arpeggios over and over for hours, and that really payed off. Nowadays I don’t use them much, but nothing beats repetition when it comes to technique! I did a couple of sweep videos on my site, but nothing very impressive really, just basic sweeps.

You rock, Lori!

+ Comment by John
2007-07-27 19:57:28

Hi Lori, I’ve tried to make a progression here on guitar pro using triplets, I tried using 16th notes, but it didn’t work out. I know a bit amount of theory, but I’m still not sure which “time” of note to use. I’ve emailed the guitar pro tab to you. Please check it out and tell me on which time signature to use. I hope “time signature” is the correct term.


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