SHREDDED METAL

SWEEP-TAP ARPEGGIO VARIATIONS

In the last issue I discussed a technique known loosely as ‘Sweep-Tapped-Arpeggios.’ This is where an arpeggio is sweep picked and then a note higher in pitch is added using a right hand tap with the middle finger. In this column I’m going to look at a few cool variations of this technique. These examples are all in the key of A minor, but you should practice them in different keys.

EXERCISE 1

Last time I discussed only tapping the octave of the arpeggio, but the great thing about the sweep-tap technique is that you can really tap any note you like. This presents a great opportunity to colour your basic major/minor triads with different chord tones simply by tapping different frets. This is very useful for outlining extended chords, such as the seventh arpeggios in exercise 1.

In this basic Im-III-VII chord progression, the diatonic seventh notes of each arpeggio are tapped. The b7 of the Amin arpeggio is tapped at the 15th fret to create a minor seventh, the natural 7 of the Cmaj is tapped at the 19th fret for a major seventh and the b7 of the Gmaj is tapped at the 13th fret forming a dominant seventh arpeggio. Once you have this down you should experiment with tapping different notes - there are countless possibilities. For example, you could tap the natural 7 of the A min at the 16th fret to create a min(maj 7) arpeggio.

Hear Exercise 1

EXERCISE 2

Another great thing to do is combine sweep arpeggios with some stock-standard right hand tapping licks to craft longer passages, as in exercise 2.

Hear Exercise 2

EXERCISE 3

A really cool variation is to tap a note and then slide it up and down. Practice sliding your middle finger back and forth on the first string separately before trying this lick. In the first measure the b7 is tapped and quickly slid up to the octave and back down in one continuous movement before pulling off and continuing through the arpeggio. The second measure is exactly the same, only this time a much larger slide is incorporated - up to the minor third at the 20th fret. This may take a bit of work to get accurate, but you can even try just sliding randomly – taking your finger as high up the neck as you can squeeze in  – to get some really crazy sounds!

Hear Exercise 3

EXERCISE 4

One of my personal favourite things to do is to tap a note and then bend that same note. In exercise four we sweep through the arpeggio, looping the notes on the top three strings before hammering on, tapping the b7 and bending it up a whole-tone (two frets) to the octave and back done again. Now, bending this note is not done with your right hand finger (you might break it!) It all comes from the left hand bending normally at the 12th fret - by pushing upwards and gripping your thumb over the neck then releasing. While your right hand finger is fretting on the string it will naturally follow, essentially ‘going along for the ride.’ Thus, how you bend with your left hand will determine the intonation of the note you are tapping with your right. I find this technique works really well in climatic phrases of solos.

Hear Exercise 4

Practice these exercises slowly and use them as a starting point to come up with your own variations. Experiment and be creative!

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