Sweep Picking is a technique that i am often asked about by my students. Since its rise to prominence in the technical guitar era of the 1980's, its become a technique that is synonymous with technical virtuosity. The question of ''can you sweep pick'' from guitarists is almost similar to the ''how much do you bench'' question that guys pose in the gym. Its almost like a testing of the water to see if somebody is better than you, or its used the other way to try and put fear in to another player or make them feel inadequate. This doesn't need to be the case though at all, because like any other technique, sweeping is a means to an end, that was first introduced by Aussie fusion pioneer Frank Gambale. When Frank thought about the technique he was not looking for a way to intimidate other guitarists with blistering speed, but simply he was looking for a way to improve his playing by adding a facility to play horn and saxophone lines, which seemed so hard to do on the guitar back when Frank was learning.
Although Frank is one of the guitar players that introduced the technique, he is still in my opinion one of the absolute best at it, and has made it in to somewhat of an art form. Over the years i have learned many of Franks lines and taught them to my Advanced Guitar Students. It's great doing exercises to learn techniques, but every now and then its also really nice to play a piece, or even part of a piece that uses the technique, and this is a great and valid way to practice. One of my favourite parts from FG's tracks, is from a piece called The Great Roberto which is on the collaborative GHS 3 album. GHS is a fusion trio consisting of Frank on guitars, while Drumming master Steve Smith and virtuoso bassist Stuart Hamm take care of the other respective instruments. The Great Roberto is the second track on their third album. Its a great piece that i really love to listen to. The snippet of the track i have transcribed comes in at around 4:28 and ends at around 5:09, so its only about 40 seconds long but it provides you with a really good little work out thats fun to play. Not only is it technically difficult, but its also in 9/8 time which makes it rhythmically tricky too. You can see a video of me playing this part on YouTube, watching the video will give you a good idea of how im fingering and what my picking hand is doing. To view the transcription click the link. The_Great_Roberto_.png