Learn a Lick 4: Swep-tap-ular!

Written by Rob in 'Learn a Lick'

This week’s lick is an example of how you can use swept arpeggios- along with tapping- to outline the sound of a certain scale, or key. Essentially, we’re taking two chords that fit the A phrygian mode, and playing them over an A root note.
a sweep-tapping lick using the A phrygian mode
If you do this, you’ll get the sound of the A phrygian mode. However, if you understand modes, you’ll know the important note is the root note. So, if you were to play this same lick over an F major chord, you would sound like you’re in F major.

If this sounds confusing, it really isn’t. Both F major and A phrygian share the same notes- so you can play this lick in more than one key.

Sweep tapping with two arpeggios from F major

Playing the Lick

This lick is not as difficult as it sounds. It’s mostly all sextuplets, which is 6 notes per beat. However, I recommend practicing this with triplets at first, to get a better feel for it.

Remember to use the hashtag #learnalick on twitter and upload a video of yourself playing this lick! The best ones may be featured in a future video!

Here’s the backing track:

First Shape

The lick starts off with a descending A minor arpeggio in C shape. The problem is, this contains an odd number of notes. That’s why I add an extra note at the bottom of the shape (an F on the 8th fret; A string).

Start with your little finger on the 12th fret of the (thin) E string. This part can be played with either an up or a down-pick. Then, you pull off to the C on the 8th fret of the same string (use your first finger, as it makes the stretch easier!).

Then we’re descending through the shape until the A on the 12th fret; A string. As I said, we want an even number of notes, so from here we pull-off to the 8th fret on the A string.

Coming back up, hammer-on from the 8th to the 12th on the A string, and then sweep back up the shape. At the very top, the hammer-on from the 8th to the 12th fret needs to be played twice as fast as the rest of the notes. I’ve written grace notes (the little notes) for this part in the tab, because Guitar Pro wouldn’t let me write it the way I wanted to.

Essentially, the start of the tapped section needs to start on the beat.

Tapped Section

The tapped part is pretty straightforward, but it requires a lot of legato strength. So practice those hammer-ons and pull-offs!

Starting by tapping the G (15th fret; E string), we’re then descending the scale with the fretting hand (frets 12, 10 and 8). Then, go back up through the 10th and 12th frets. It does require strong fingers, but playing it fast with lots of gain can also help!

Then, exactly the same move again, but tapping on the A (17th fret; E string) instead.

If you can do this part on it’s own, that’s great. The real challenge is combining it with the sweep-picked parts!

Second Arpeggio

The second arpeggio is based on the C-shaped B flat major. Again, the only difference is that I’ve added a note at the bottom of the arpeggio on the 10th fret (a G note). This means you could also call this a ‘G minor 7th’ arpeggio, I prefer ‘B flat major’ because that’s how it is in my head.

Then, exactly the same tapping section as before, this time with an added tap on the 17th fret to end on an A note (the root note).

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