2. Learn to finger-roll. Finger-rolling is prominent in a lot of sweep arpeggios, and will lead to a lack of synchronization if you don’t master it first. The technique simply involves moving the top part of your finger across two or three adjacent strings in a rolling motion so that the notes sound separately and don’t bleed into each other. Practice with all four of your fretting hand fingers; yes, even your pinky. Check out this article for an in-depth look at getting the finger-roll going.
3. Practice each hand separately. I can’t stress this enough as each hand needs to know what it’s supposed to be doing before you attempt any kind of hand-synchronization. Resist the temptation to use both hands at this point because each hand needs to know (in a mechanical way) what it’s supposed to be doing. If you watch great sweep-pickers, you’ll see that each hand is focused on its particular role in the technique, almost as if they were separate entities. Check out the example below and practice first with your picking hand and then with your fretting hand.
Once you’ve gotten your hands working in sync, be sure to try an example which includes a finger-roll such as the one below.
99% of your problems with sweep-picking are the direct result of how easy/difficult you made the hand-syncing part. Steps 1, 2, and 3 contain the elements of the technique that need to be mastered before syncing can take place. What most players do is go straight to Step 4 and try to learn everything at once. You can probably see that this won’t work as it’s too much information for the hands and brain to assimilate; therefore, any issue you have will either be due to: a) your right hand sweeping motion (tip – getting it to sound right on its own is the key); b) your left-hand motion; or, c) an underdeveloped finger-roll technique.
How Do I Know Where I’m Going Wrong?
It’s quite simple to diagnose the root of your sweep-picking problem, simply be aware of where your attention is going when you screw up. Do you look at your fretting or picking hand? If it’s your fretting hand it must be either the finger-roll, or the left-hand motion, and if it’s your right hand it must be something to do with your sweeping motion.
Above all, take your time and follow the steps; you’ll be able to pull it off sooner than you think.
You’ll also find this and 49 other hacks in our bestselling book, ‘50 Guitar Hacks for the Advancing Guitarist‘.