Marty Friedman Doesn’t Care for Your “Sweep Picking,” Shows You How to Play Fast Without It

I fucking love Marty Friedman. Since Gear Gods seems to wind up with “theme” days, I guess today’s is science, because Marty’s post and video at Guitar World seem engineered to specifically infuriate an entire generation of guitarists. You see, Marty Friedman doesn’t do economy picking. He thinks sweeps are lame, or basically anything that goes up a scale 1, 2, 3, snoooore. Boring. Use some creativity and choose your notes because they sound good, not simply because they come after the previous one and your fingers are just moving so fast.


To my ears, it sounds like, “bdLOOP, bdLoop, bdLOOP, bdLoop,” as notes go up and down, over and over again. It’s nothing more than a fancy technique that guitar players learn so that they can play fast arpeggios up and down. To my ears, it’s very unmusical. In my music, you will hear some insane, fast arpeggio-based lines, but it’s never simply straight up and down through the arpeggios, the way sweep picking usually is performed.

When everyone gushes about how distinctive Marty Friedman’s sound is, this is part of what they’re referencing. But he’s not just taking a shit on your cheats to clear his bowels. He wants to help you up your game. So with that rant out of his system, Marty goes on to show how he factors in musicality when choosing his arpeggio notes.

After you finish typing your furious screed white knighting sweeps in the comments, why not check out Marty Friedman’s new solo record, Inferno, which is out now.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.

Latest comments
  • Oh Marty, you sassy bitch…

  • Hes too cool for sweep picking eh? Or his demented hand can’t sweep properly. His argument that sweep picking inst musical is completely ludacris coming out of a professional guitarists’s mouth.

    • Doesn’t he sweep during that lick? Also I agree with hos premice that simply sweeping up and down all day is boring, but applied more musically they sound amazing.

      • He’s doing an economy picking/short sweep thing around a standard minor arpeggio shape, which I agree sounds much cooler than just going up and down the arpeggio. Friedman is a deity status player, so I’m sure he could sweep like a fucking janitor if he really wanted to.

    • His gripe seemed to be more centered around the way that a lot of players seem to be using sweep picking — almost as more of a parlor trick rather than one technique in a sea of millions of available choices to enable players to express unique musical ideas.

      On the one hand, when most players learn to sweep they learn specific shapes — but a lot of guys never graduate past it or learn how those shapes function or where they come from, so when they sweep — regardless of how fast or clean they can do it the sound becomes predicable very quickly. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if your knowledge of the chords that the shapes derive from isn’t very strong.

      It’s just that the way Marty chooses to expound this particular point sounds an awful lot like “all the time you put into learning these things was wasted because it’s a terrible idea unlike all of mine, which are brilliant.”

      • I agree that sweeps are often monotonously overused but the way he presented his ideas on sweeping seemed very bias and uneducated. Marty Friedman is obviously educated on the subject but he made it seem like using full sweeps ruins music and his way is the only way to play guitar. And instead of playing the same sweeps over and over again, Marty often repeats the same alternate picking riff four times in a row. Hes probably not against sweeping, but the way he presented his ideas in this video made him seem like a pompous douche.

    • Yes, he is too cool for monotonous sweeping (even though he clearly incorporated a bit of interrupted sweeping in the examples above). Sweeping arpeggios over and over is essentially strumming chords up and down. Not very musical imo. Impressive? Sure, maybe like 10 years ago when Necrophagist broke through. Everyone knows how to sweep these days.

    • His “demented hand” has probably pioneered sweep picking in nearly every modern rock/metal guitarist who sweeps nowadays from Megadeth and Cacophony.

      • Considering how he stays away form it I doubt he pioneered it.

  • Do not show this man Archspire

  • I agree, for too long sweeps have just been the “go to” of any guitarist in a new band trying to impress everyone. They’re tricky to get the hang of, but once you have the knack you can just throw them out no problem as much as you like, so new guitarists practice till they can do them and sound “impressive”, then just stagnate on that level.

  • “It’s nothing more than a fancy technique that guitar players learn so that they can play fast arpeggios up and down”

    Yeah, because who wants that anyway?

  • wait a second….. all his old cacophony songs with becker have tons of sweep picking.

    • did you even watch the vid?

  • hahaha love this guy. “Learn it and fuck it”

  • Someone should make a new subgenre out of the word bdLOOP

  • Check out the new instrumental record from the guy that disses folks making “instrumental” music. Sure.

  • He built a career on “playing fast”…Jason Becker sweep picked all the time…I think he just wants to get new players to forget about playing fast because most are so much faster than him now. I mean really…he comes across as a bitter old spinster who’s pissed because all the young guys are after the younger hotter girls. He needs to retire and shut his mouth.

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