When it comes to sweep picking, the most commonly used arpeggio shapes involve either three strings or five strings. However, it is also possible to use sweep picking to play arpeggios across all six strings. These are probably the most difficult sweep picking arpeggios to master. For this column, I’m going to look at the basic six string shapes for a minor triad (1-b3-5) and a major triad (1-3-5).


This is the standard six string minor arpeggio shape in the key of E minor (Bar 1). I’ve also included the recommended left hand fingering. To play the notes on the same frets on adjacent strings, you will need to roll your finger on and off the strings in order to separate each note. Practice the shape slowly until it feels comfortable under your left hand. The second part of this exercise (Bars 2 & 3) involves sweep picking the arpeggio shape – ascending and descending across six strings (and then repeated). Note how it begins with a hammer-on on the sixth string, and a pull-off is used on the first string when descending. The key here is to use the one continuous pick stroke down and then up (like strumming a chord) while the left hand simultaneously frets then slightly releases each note. The rhythm here is somewhat unusual since it involves septuplets (seven notes per beat). Start off slowly with a metronome, ensuring that the initial ascending downstroke and descending upstroke is on the beat.

Hear Exercise 1


This is the standard six string shape in the key of E major. The only thing different from the minor shape is that the b3 degree is raised a half step (becoming a major 3rd). Practice the shape in the same way as advised in Exercise 1.

Hear Exercise 2


I’ve incorporated the minor and major six string sweep-picked arpeggios into a short exercise using a Im-VII-VI-VII-Im chord progression. As such, the arpeggios used are Em-D-C-D-Em. The opening Em and D arpeggios are looped twice here; however, the subsequent C and D major arpeggios only ascend/descend once. Aim to get it up to around 120BPM. The passage finishes with a short pull-off lick into a whole-step bend to the root note. My use of this final bend was deliberate – to make the point that if your bending, vibrato, and overall feel is lacking, any fast, technical shredding essentially becomes meaningless.

Hear Exercise 3


This is my final column for Australian Guitar Magazine. I started writing this Shredded Metal series way back in September 2008 (AG#69). I’ve loved sharing my knowledge of shred and metal guitar with the readers over the years, and I truly hope that guitarists have found my columns helpful and interesting. I’d like to thank everyone at Australian Guitar for allowing me the privilege of writing for such a fine publication for such a long time. I’d also like to thank everyone who’s ever reached out to me over the years to let me know how much they’ve enjoyed and benefited from my columns.  If you’d like to keep up to date with my future musical endeavours, please check out my website – – or follow me on social media. Thanks again, and as always, keep shredding!