Hey, guitarists! Do you like shred? I love it. Both shredding that fixates on a single note, and phrases that are rushed into ignoring notation are fantastic. "Sweep picking" is one of the techniques that has been recognized as a difficult technique in "shredding". Broadly speaking, sweep picking is an advanced version of economy picking. It refers to a playing technique in which multiple strings are played in a single motion.
From the time I started playing the guitar and became able to play it a little faster, I have long been practicing sweep picking because I longed to play like many of my guitar heroes. It wasn’t until I practiced with different picks that I felt a clear breakthrough. Of course, I can play using not only my main pick, but really, any pick. However, I couldn’t get the feel for sweep picking at the time, so I didn’t improve my stroke until I changed to an easy-to-feel pick.
By the way, the following are my two main picks now.
Both are "Jazz III" shaped picks made from ULTEX. Small and easy to handle, they’re often used by metal guitarists for shredding techniques including sweep picking. The John Petrucci model has a sharpened edge to hit the strings, resulting in smoother string separation. I change the way I use it depending on the condition of the day and the phrase to be played.
The following pick was what first inspired me to become a jazz pick freak.
The signature pick of guitarist SYU from the metal band, GALNERYUS. SYU is one of many guitarists who specializes in sweep picking.
■ GALNERYUS/ FUTURE NEVER DIES
This pick uses a shape called a "Small Triangle" which is smaller than usual Triangle pick, and has both the good maneuverability and the high stability of the triangle.
The reason why the Triangle Pick is good for learning sweep picking seems to have been the "movement of pushing the pick with your finger" that is unique to sweep picking. This is just my method, but when sweep picking, I move the pick with my "fingertips, not my wrist", to pick. The counterclockwise circular motion extends the thumb from a bent state when down-picking, and bends it to perform up-picking. This is called "circle picking" with a larger movement. Up-picking is often omitted by tapping with the left hand, so during sweeping, the main movement of the right hand is "stretching your thumb and fingers when down-picking". When learning this motion, I think that the large contact area and the high stability of the thumb, which are the characteristics of the triangle pick, are effective.
Similarly, the JAZZ III XL shape and the FLOW pick are also recommended shapes.
JAs the name implies, the JAZZ III XL is a slightly larger version of the JAZZ III. It has both good string separation due to the sharp tip of JAZZ III and is easy grip. There are a number of variations of the JAZZ III XL including products from brands other than JIM DUNLOP, but this time I selected the signature pick of Tosin Aba
■ Animals As Leaders/ CAFO
The FLOW is almost the same size as JAZZ III XL, and the shape of the tip is like the triangle. The edge has been processed with a diagonal cut, and it is a model aiming for both good string separation and thick sound.
Finally, here's one pick that I recently tried out personally and found to be good for learning sweep picking.
The latest signature pick from guitarist John Petrucci of the progressive metal band, Dream Theater.
■ Dream Theater/ Take The Time
It combines the size and feel of the JAZZ III and the pick shape of the FLOW, and is a smaller, thicker pick than the standard triangle. As it is thicker, there is less bending when hitting the string, and I personally felt it was easier to handle than the SYU model. This seems to be the effect of the thickness (1.38 mm) of the pick, so it is for reference only.
These are the four picks I would recommend to the sweep picking beginners. If you throw away the preconception that "only this shape or this thickness of pick is suitable for me”, you may be able to catch on unexpectedly and maybe even smoothly. If you're a guitarist struggling to learn sweep picking, try one of these.
What? An Yngwie model pick? This is something you’ll want to use just for the looks!