Today we’re going to be adding some sweep picking into our heavy riffs. Note that I said “INTO” and not “over”. The difference is that these examples would be played on one guitar. Not a lead guitar playing over the top of a rhythm guitar.
In this lesson we’ll be looking at incorporating arpeggios into riffs. We’ll be looking at an example on an 8 string guitar and another on a 6 string. One of the reasons I like 7 and 8 string guitars is because you can get plenty of low end without losing any of the higher notes. Mixing lower riffs with arpeggios that go up into the higher notes can give your playing some really interesting dynamics. So, let’s check out these ideas with some examples.
Incorporating Arpeggios Into Riffs: Example One – 8 String Tech Riff
Our first example uses the G melodic minor scale, however we are also mixing it with the Hungarian minor scale. On the second time through the riff I am replacing the tremolo picking in the second half of the fourth bar with a minor triad arpeggio based on Gm. This gives us a “Necrophagist” type of sound similar to the song “Diminished to B”.
Here we are using pretty much all triplets. Remember that these are groupings of 3 notes of equal length. We’re switching between 8th and 16th note triplets.
The short rest at the end of this riff gives it an interesting feel. As a result this “stop, start” feel is very effective at creating a brief moment of anticipation for the riff coming back in. However try not to overdo it though or your songs may not “flow” as nicely as anticipated. There are exceptions to every rule so this is just something to keep in mind.
Example Two: Sweeping into a Thrash Riff
Our second example starts with some 3 string m7 arpeggios. Gm7 and Fm7 to be specific. You can think of these as the iii and ii chords in the key of Eb Major. This one can be played on a 6 string guitar. After the second time of the Gm7 I am extending it down on to the D and A strings.
Next there are 3 diminished triads starting from the low E string. These are E, Eb and D diminished. As a result we get a chromatic, descending feel which leads us nicely into the heavy part of the riff. This results in a slight “you lose” or “game over” kind of vibe, which, likewise, works well going into a heavier section.
Once the Thrash part of the riff comes in we are changing key here to E Locrian but ending the lick on an E power chord, rather than E diminished. This type of riff works really well at blazing fast speeds. As a result it will power along in a way reminiscent of “Slayer”.
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