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Sample Lessons

February 17, 2013

Sweep Picking – 3-String sweeps with legato

In our second sweeping lesson, we have a lick from a highly influential guitarist, John Petrucci, of Dream Theater. This lick is absolutely essential for your Licktionary, especially if you are involved in hard rock or heavy metal music styles.

The concept on which it’s based is very common in heavy metal and fusion styles nowadays: it’s a repeating 6-note minor pentatonic sequence, which uses the combination of sweeping and legato and wide stretches very effectively, giving a sound which I consider one of my personal favorites.

This lick uses E minor pentatonic scale sextuplets, so it can be used over E minor or E dorian chord progressions. It’s written in the first box of E minor pentatonic scale, but feel free to play around with other positions two (always watch for your ending notes in that case, though)

The combination of legato, wide stretches and sweeping has been proven to be very instructional over the course of time for most of my students. It introduces the concept of “stacking” which is basically the result of combining two or more different and separately studied techniques in your improvisation. This is actually an extra skill, meaning that being fluent in legato technique and in sweeping, doesn’t actually mean you can combine the two as well; this requires extra studying hours specifically oriented towards the desired result, which is exactly what this lick provides.

You may find the stretch at the beginning of this phrase a little challenging. Pay close attention to the notation. Always watch for the notes that are picked and those that are played legato. The key here is to make the sound quality of the picked notes similar to the legato notes. Sounding fluent is your first goal through this exercise. Remember to practice slowly before speeding up.


Have fun,