Frank Gambale's Four Sweep Picking Tips

Learn about sweep picking from an undisputed master of the form.
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When it comes to sweep picking, Frank Gambale is the style’s undisputed champion, in both senses of the word. With his impossibly fluid lines and flawless command of the technique, Gambale is unparalleled as a sweep picker. Plus, he has always been the style’s most impassioned and articulate proponent. 

In the September 1987 issue of GP, Gambale shared some of his insights into his signature playing approach with an eloquent lesson article entitled, simply, “Sweep Picking.” Here are some of the most valuable pointers he offered.

  • Keep the notes as separate as possible - almost staccato - at first, especially when crossing multiple strings. Newcomers to sweeping tend to run the notes together.
  • Watch your picking hand and make sure you are using a single movement when sweeping across strings, not separate successive strokes.
  • Always practice with a metronome or drum machine, making sure that the notes are clean and even.
  • Be critical and honest when evaluating yourself. It’s harder to sweep at slower tempos, so start with medium ones (sixteenths at q=60-100 bpm).