This tuition instalment is the final – yes, the final – look at sweep arpeggios. During this series, we’ve been looking at some exercises to improve sweep-picking techniques and playing some arpeggios that put those techniques into practice. All our previous sweep arpeggios have been spread over five strings; this month’s, though, are spread over just three strings, and they all consist of an ascending and descending six-note pattern that works up the fretboard. At the risk of sounding repetitive, these should be practised slowly and accurately, making sure that only one note sounds at a time. As in previous months’ sweep-picking exercises, start practising at around crotchet= 60 and ultimately aim for crotchet= 200.
The fretting-hand fingering is to be treated as ‘suggested’ fingering only; there are other ways to play these arpeggios, and different guitarists use different fingerings. For the plucking hand, each pattern starts with three downstrokes, followed by an upstroke, a pull-off and then another upstroke. ‘Sim’ is short for ‘simile’, and means carry on in the same way.
The formula for a diminished seventh arpeggio is root, flattened third, flattened fifth and double flattened seventh – which in the case of this G#dim7 arpeggio adds up to the notes G#, B, D, F. Unlike the following two arpeggios, the fretting-hand pattern and the fingering for the first six notes are simply moved up the fretboard for the rest of the exercise. The fretting-hand fingering for the first group of six notes necessitates a stretch for the fretting hand, but of course it’ll get easier as you work your way up the fretboard.
The first two beats of the first bar and the last two beats of the second bar involve ‘rolling’ the fretting-hand first finger. Keep a sharp eye on the fingering in the first bar on the third and fourth beats; the A note on the second string, 10th fret is fingered with the third finger on the way up but with the second finger on the way down, in order to make the change into the next bar easier by avoiding using the third finger for two notes in a row on different strings. Again, this is only suggested fingering, so feel free to alter it.
Using the same finger for two successive notes on different strings is not generally considered a good idea, but the patterns in this example naturally lend themselves to a fingering that does exactly that. It’s unconventional, we know, but do try the suggested fingering before you dive in and modify it. It’s possible to work your way around the same-finger problem, but what you’re left with may feel a little awkward and contrived.
After you’ve got your fingers floating casually over these arpeggios, try playing the G#dim7 exercise followed by the one in Am, then the G#dim7 exercise followed by the one in A. Fancy some more variations? Try starting with the highest group of notes, and then work down the fretboard instead of up; also try starting these arpeggios on the highest note of each six-note pattern, rather then the lowest note.