Forums » Guitar 101

Sweep Picking vs Rake

    • 23 posts
    May 1, 2010 4:00 AM PDT

    A student asked me what is the difference between a guitar sweep and a rake? This is an excellent question!

    What is a Sweep? Sweep picking is a precise technique in which the selected Asending or Decending notes follow the picking hand in unison. A sweeping' motion of the pick moving up or down is combined with the fret hand in order to produce a specific series of notes which are fast and fluid in sound.

    What is a Rake? A rake is a technique that produces more of a percussive sound by scratching over the strings with the guitar pick in the same motion as a sweep. However with the rake you are scratching the pick over the strings until you get to your intended note. This technique sounds like a ruff sweep because the last note is allowed to ring.

    These are two very different technique and create two different effects. Most often then not guitarist try to pass off rakes as sweeps because they are easier and sound similar. Rakes can be learned in 5 seconds, Sweeps cannot. Sweeping takes lots of practice and patience to learn as well as how to apply them musically. Be aware that Sweeps are difficult to apply correctly in time so practice them slow at first. Over time you will speed up automaticaly.

    For Beginners wanting to learn this technique start simple with a 3-string sweep or arpeggio. for example; This shape is a D major arpeggio using the sweeping technique.

    E------------------2-------5------2-----------------

    B-------------3------------------------3-----------

    G-------2---------------------------------2--------

    D------------------------------------------------

    A------------------------------------------------

    E------------------------------------------------

    For intermediate or advanced players wanting some sweep or arpeggio ideas drop me a line i'll give you some 4, 5 and 6 string sweeps as well as some mind blowing shapes that will make you want to take up the Triangle instead. :)

    cheers

    Nick Arrietta

    • 6 posts
    December 26, 2010 11:02 PM PST
    Great topic,good advice
  • December 30, 2010 11:01 PM PST
    RIGHT ON,, VERY GOOD EXPLAINATION. SWEEPS ARE HEARD NOTE PER NOTE, RAKES ONLY ALLOW THE LAST ONE OR TWO TO RING,, VERY OBSERVANT.. COOL MANG...
    • 7 posts
    February 17, 2011 3:57 PM PST
    Ha ha, I hear lots of people who think they're sweeping, but it sounds like a rake to me!
    • 23 posts
    March 2, 2011 12:23 AM PST
    Usually guitarist use the rake because they don't want to take the time to learn proper timing with sweep picking. That's not to say rakes don't or cant sound awesome, because they can if used in context. Thanks for your comments guys.
    • 30 posts
    May 3, 2011 2:26 PM PDT

    I've been playing guitar for 26 years and still cannot sweep pick. I've never had anything that could be considered "formal" lessons on guitar, I can't read notation or understand theory at all, and I've only begun taking guitar seriously for about the past 6 or 7 years, but it IS something I'd like to learn how to do. I think the main thing that makes it difficult to me is that I am very heavy handed on the guitar while I play. Over the past few years as I've begun to learn how to do decent solos, my fingers have become lighter on the strings, but I tend to still be pretty heavy handed. I also have a really bad habit of when I SHOULD be practicing dexterity drills or just going up and down scales, I end up getting bored of that very quickly and just dive into whatever I think sounds good at the time. I'm getting there though. It's very frustrating to me however watching and listening to younger less experienced guitarists shredding circles around me, but in my defense I can hold my own fairly well nowadays, and I'm getting faster every day.

    • 23 posts
    May 18, 2012 3:29 AM PDT
    It's not about how fast you can play, its about what you can do musically with the tools you have. Become a well rounded musician and you will go much further and learn more. When i was younger all i cared about was becoming a shredder. In doing so i missed out on becoming a well rounded guitar player and had to go back and learn things i should have learned early on. Speed isn't as important as knowing what to do with the techniques and theory you have. If all you are if fast then were does that leave you? A guitar player that can shred but can't jam and groove. My advice is don't focus on becoming a shredder. speed and accuracy comes as a by product of good theory and practice. Like i always tell my students, if you know where to go on the fretboard you can get there much faster. Speed fails if you don't have a mental map of where you need to go. Cheer Nathan.
    • 6 posts
    August 14, 2012 4:29 PM PDT
    I would say a rake is the percussive sound that comes from "sweeping" over strings that are muted already by the fretting or picking hand. The sweep motion itself is basically like a controlled chord strum. This guy explains the motion of the pick hand during sweep picking perfectly http://tomhess.net/3StringSweepArpeggios.aspx.