Sweep Picking (Guitar Lesson)

Get Started
What are you waiting for? Get your membership now!
Dennis Hodges

Sweep Picking

Dennis Hodges teaches right and left hand sweeping techniques, 3 string triads, and 2 octave arpeggios. Also included is an etude written specifically for JamPlay!

Taught by Dennis Hodges in Lead Concepts & Techniques seriesLength: 39:18Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:43) Intro Welcome to the latest installment of the Lead Techniques and Concepts series with Dennis Hodges! Dennis begins this lesson with a performance of an original sweep picking etude.

Sweep picking is a technique that is used to play solos or melodies comprised of rapid arpeggio figures. This technique is found in almost all genres. However, it occurs most frequently in metal, rock, and jazz / jazz fusion music.

Lesson Contents

In the scenes that follow, Dennis explores the mechanics of sweep picking technique. He begins with the absolute basics and works his way towards advanced material. To prepare you for the etude demonstrated in this scene, sweep picking exercises are presented throughout the lesson. The basic right and left hand components are isolated and explained in detail. Then, these techniques are applied to a practical musical context with the introduction of commonly used arpeggio patterns.
Chapter 2: (08:12) Left Hand Technique Before you proceed to the exercises presented in this scene, make sure that you feel comfortable with the right hand component of sweep picking.

Left Hand Guidelines

The main reason why guitarists perform sweep arpeggios poorly is because they fail to realize that the left hand component is just as important as the right. Follow these rules to ensure that your arpeggios sound smooth and fluid.

1. The left hand must prepare each finger before the string is plucked with the right hand. The left hand finger must fret each note just milliseconds before it is plucked. Otherwise, an unwanted hammer-on sound might be produced.

2. Each string must be muted after it is played by slightly lifting the left hand from the string. Do not let the strings in a sweep arpeggio ring together! If the same finger is to be used to fret the next string, do not lift it up. Instead, "roll” your finger by lightly pulling it down to the next string. Be careful that you don't create unwanted pull-offs when performing finger rolls.

3. The sweep arpeggio should sound like a series of rapid single notes, not a slowly strummed chord.

Finger Roll Exercise 1

A. Left Hand Component

Many sweep arpeggios call for a finger roll to be performed across three or four strings. Before you attempt to play such arpeggios, first master finger rolls played across two adjacent strings.

This exercise features a roll performed by the first finger on the first and second strings. Begin by fretting the note F# with the very tip of the index finger. Pick this note. Then, roll the first finger down so that the note B on the first string is fretted by the fleshy pad of the index finger. Essentially, you are flattening the fingertip joint as you move from the second string to the first string. Do not keep the first note fretted as you progress to the second note. These notes should not ring together!

B. Right Hand Component

Use the right hand principles from the previous scene as you practice this exercise. Sweep downwards for the first two notes. Remember to keep the pick motion fluid and constant. Then, sweep back up through these notes.

All four notes in the exercise are played as eighth notes. Make sure that all four notes are identical in value. Begin at a slow tempo to ensure that all note values remain perfectly even throughout the exercise. Speed is not a priority at this point! Focus on clear rhythm and keeping the transition seamless from one note in the finger roll to the next.

Watch and listen carefully as Dennis performs this exercise at 00:55. Focus on a different aspect of his technique each time that you watch this example. Watch his right hand, then his left. Imitate the sound he produces as you practice through the exercise on your own.

C. All Fingers

Practice this exercise with all four fingers equally. You may have to spend extra time with fingers two, three, and four before you feel comfortable with this exercise. Typically, the fingertip joint is slightly stronger and more flexible on the index finger than the other three fingers. You will learn how these finger rolls are incorporated within various arpeggio patterns in the scenes that follow.

Also, practice these rolls with all possible pairs of adjacent strings in all areas of the fretboard. The exercise is slightly more difficult at the high and low extremes of the fretboard.

Finger Roll Exercise 2

This exercise features a finger roll performed in a triplet rhythm across three strings. The difficulty level increases significantly with this exercise since weaker parts of the finger must be used within the finger roll. Fret the note on the third string with the very tip of the finger. Then, flatten the joint to fret the note on the B string. The note on the first string is fretted just slightly above the fingertip joint. As you move from one string to the next, slightly drag the first finger down towards the floor. This will ensure that the preceeding note is muted when the following note is struck.

It becomes much more difficult to keep the individual notes from bleeding into one another when rolling across more than two strings. The highest string in each group of three is the hardest to prevent from bleeding into the other notes.
Do not get frustrated! If you take the time to perfect these basic exercises now, your playing will sound much smoother when it comes time to play full sweep arpeggios across the fretboard.

Practice the exercise at a very slow tempo such as 50 beats per minute. Play along with Dennis in the lesson video at 04:02 when you feel ready. His metronome is set to 60 beats per minute.

Once again, practice this exercise with all four fingers on all possible sets of strings. Also, practice at various locations on the fretboard.

Finger Roll Exercise 3

This exercise features a finger roll across four strings. Practice without a metronome while you are first getting acquainted with the raw finger mechanics. Once the mechanics of the finger roll become more comfortable, then play in time along with a metronome. The exercise is played in sixteenth notes. Or, you can play it in eighth notes at a slightly quicker tempo. Dennis demonstrates the exercise in eighth notes at 76 beats per minute at 07:40 in the lesson video.

Finger rolls involving four strings aren't very common in the rock genre. However, jazz / fusion players such as Frank Gambale use them with some frequency. Practicing rolls across four strings will make rolls across two or three strings exponentially easier for you.
Chapter 3: (07:18) Right Hand Technique When learning a new, challenging technique such as sweep picking, it is always best to isolate the right and left hand components.

Note: The following guidelines are taken from lesson 8 of Matt Brown's Phase 2 Rock series.

Right Hand Technique

1. In order to decrease the amount of friction between the pick and the strings, the picking hand must be slightly tilted from its normal position. When performing a down-sweep, tilt your hand towards the floor so that the thumb is pulled slightly away from the strings. This will prevent the pick from getting stuck on an individual string. When sweeping upwards toward the bass strings, tilt the pick in the opposite direction. The wrist, thumb, and index finger work together when the angle of the pick is adjusted. Watch Dennis' right hand in the lesson video for a clear example.

2. Sweep arpeggios must be played with the very tip of the pick only. If too much of the pick makes contact with a string, you run the risk of getting it caught, and the arpeggio will not sound smooth.

3. The pick must gradually “fall” across the strings. In other words, the velocity of the right hand must remain constant as the pick drags across the strings. You must not separate the motion of the pick into individual strokes. Do not momentarily pause on each string!

4. When more than one note occurs on a given string, alternate picking must be used on that individual string. Then, resume picking in one direction.

5. Keep the right hand as relaxed as possible at all times. Grip the pick just hard enough so that it does not fall out of your hand.

Right Hand Exercise 1

The first exercise presented in this scene is designed to get you acquainted with the basic right hand component of sweep picking.

A. Practicing the Exercise

Pick through the treble strings using all downstrokes. Lightly mute each string with the left hand. Remember to keep the velocity of the pick constant through the sweeping motion. Do not pause or freeze the right hand after picking each note. Tilt the top of the pick towards the ground when performing a down sweep.

After the final downstroke is performed on the first string, reverse the direction of the pick. You must alter the angle of the pick when performing a sweep in an upwards direction. Tilt the pick back towards you when performing an up sweep. This will decrease the risk of getting the pick caught up on the string. Watch Dennis' right hand closely at 00:42 for a clear demonstration. Notice how the angle of his pick changes from the down-sweep to the up-sweep. He changes the angle of the pick by slightly adjusting his thumb, index finger, and wrist.


It is important to be able to sweep pick in a variety of different rhythms. Sweep arpeggios can be performed in eighth notes, triplets, sixteenth notes, quintuplets, sextuplets, and thirty second notes. Dennis has notated this exercise in eighth note triplets. For additional practice, apply the remaining rhythmic groupings to this exercise.

B. Exercise Play Along

Keep the rhythm constant. Each note must receive the exact same rhythmic value as the next. Do not leave a pause between the down sweep and up sweep. Practice this exercise at a very slow tempo to begin with. Then, gradually increase the tempo. Dennis demonstrates this exercise at 01:04 in the lesson video. He sets the metronome to 50 beats per minute. At first, listen to him play the exercise to hear how it should be performed. Then, rewind the listen video and play along with him.

Sweep picking is often performed at rapid tempos. Once you can play the exercise flawlessly and comfortably at 52 beats per minute, move the metronome up a notch to around 54. Continue to increase the speed of the metronome as you master the exercise at each individual setting.

Right Hand Exercise 2

This exercise features up and down sweeps performed in sixteenth notes. As more notes are added to a sweep played within a single beat, your awareness of time and rhythm becomes increasingly more important.

Follow all of the important rules listed under the first exercise when practicing this exercise. Make sure all of the notes receive the same rhythmic value. Play the exercise along with a metronome to monitor your rhythm and speed progress. Practice the exercise on your own at a slow tempo such as 50 beats per minute. Then, return to the lesson video and play along with Dennis at 03:15.

If you are having a hard time feeling sixteenth notes at a slow tempo such as 60 bpm, try playing the same exercise in eighth notes at a faster tempo such as 80 or 100 beats per minute. Dennis demonstrates this concept at 04:00 in the lesson video. His metronome is set to 80 beats per minute. Eighth notes played at this tempo are the equivalent of sixteenth notes played at 40 beats per minute.

Right Hand Exercise 3

The third exercise features up and down sweeps played in quintuplets. Within this rhythm, five notes of perfectly equal value are played to a beat. You may find it helpful to count a five syllable such as "university" or "hippopotamus" as you play this rhythm. Each syllable corresponds to a single note in the quintuplet note grouping. Every note in the pattern must receive the exact same rhythmic value. Do not play two sixteenth notes followed by three sextuplets or vice versa!

This is one of the most difficult rhythms to play. Do not neglect this rhythm! If you begin to practice it early on, you won't find yourself struggling with it down the line. Fives and sevens are the most difficult groupings since an odd number of notes are assigned to a single beat.

Begin by practicing the exercise on your own at a slow tempo such as 50 beats per minute. Then, return to the lesson video and play along with Dennis at 05:20.

Right Hand Exercise 4

This exercise involves all six strings. Down and up sweeps are performed across all six strings in a steady sextuplet rhythm. Do not play this exercise as a broken strum. Each note must be picked individually while retaining a fluid pick velocity throughout.

You can play this exercise in eighth note triplets at a faster metronome marking if you are having problems counting six notes to a single beat. Count "1 trip-pl-let 1 trip-pl-let, 2 trip-pl-let 2 trip-pl-let, 3 trip-pl-let 3 trip-pl-let 4 trip-pl-let 4 trip-pl-let " for a full measure of sextuplets.

Practice the exercise along with Dennis at 06:23. Count the rhythm in your head along with the metronome before you begin to play. Make sure you are counting and feeling the rhythm correctly before you begin. Notice how it takes Dennis a few beats before he settles into the tempo. Counting several measures before you play will help eliminate this problem.

Practice Tips

As you incorporate these exercises into your daily technical practice routine, do not always play them in the order presented in the lesson. Skip around between the various rhythms. For example, play sixteenth notes, then sextuplets, then triplets, then quintuplets. This will challenge your rhythm and counting skills. You will receive the maximum benefit from your practice time if you practice these exercises in random order.
Chapter 4: (09:25) 3 String Triads Most sweep picking patterns outline a triad or some sort of seventh chord. Before you tackle seventh chords and triads that span multiple octaves, you must first learn how to sweep through simple, three string triads.

Spelling Minor Triads

A minor arpeggio takes the first, third, and fifth notes from the natural minor scale of the same letter name. You learned how to spell triads in the first lesson of this series. For example, the E natural minor scale is spelled as follows: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E. An Em chord is spelled E, G, B.

Minor Arpeggio 1

Dennis first demonstrates a movable, minor arpeggio shape that can be transposed anywhere along the treble strings. He demonstrates this shape as an Em arpeggio played in seventh position. The root note on the third string indicates which chord is being played. Make sure that the notes that comprise the arpeggio do not bleed into one another. Lift up each left hand finger as soon as the next note in the arpeggio is picked.

Since this arpeggio pattern consists of three notes, it lends itself well to a triplet rhythm. Play through this exercise at a slow tempo in all possible keys.

Minor Arpeggio 2

The notes within Minor Arpeggio 1 can be inverted to form a new three string, minor arpeggio shape. Dennis demonstrates this shape as an Em arpeggio played in 12th position. Within this pattern, the third of the chord, G, is played as the lowest note. When the third of a chord is played as the lowest note, the chord is played in "first inversion." The root of the chord, E, is played on the first string. Use the note on the first string as a reference point when transposing this arpeggio shape.

Minor Arpeggio 3

The final three string minor arpeggio shape is played in second inversion. This means that the fifth of the chord is played as the lowest note. Dennis demonstrates this Em arpeggio in 15th position. Once again, this arpeggio shape can be transposed to the remaining 11 possible minor chords. Use the root note on the second string as a guide when transposing this shape.

This arpeggio can be fingered a few different ways. When playing techniques such as sweep picking that are build for speed, always use the stronger, faster fingers.

Connecting Arpeggio Shapes

Repeat each arpeggio shape for several measures along with a metronome. Then, move up to the next inversion and repeat the process. Gradually increase the speed of the metronome as you become more comfortable with this exercise. You will eventually need to play sweep arpeggios at all possible tempo ranges.

Spelling Major Triads

A major arpeggio takes the first, third, and fifth notes from the major scale of the same letter name. For example, the E major scale is spelled as follows: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E. An E major chord is spelled E, G#, B.

Root Position

This arpeggio can be fingered two different ways. The most appropriate fingering will depend on how the arpeggio is used in the context of a lick. Practice this arpeggio by rolling with the third finger on the second and third strings. This roll can also be performed by the second finger. Regardless of which finger performs the roll on the second and third strings, the note on the first string is always fretted by the index finger. Devote equal practice time to both fingerings. You will need to use both fingerings later on down the road.

First Inversion

Compare each minor chord shape to its major counterpart. This time around, the third of the chord, G#, is fretted at the 13th fret of the third string within the first inversion major chord. Now, the index finger must roll across the first and second strings.

Second Inversion

When performing this arpeggio, leave your first finger planted across the 16th fret. Then, roll back and forth between the tip of the index finger and the section just above the fingertip joint. This is much easier than jumping the first finger between the first and third strings.

Practicing Major Triads

Practice each major triad with the same process that Dennis outlined for the minor triads. Play each arpeggio shape for several measures. Then, proceed to the next inversion without stopping. Apply this exercise to the remaining eleven major triads in the chromatic scale.

Doubling the Lowest Note

The note located one octave above the lowest note in each pattern can also be added to a three string arpeggio. Regardless of which pattern is used, this note is always located on the first string.

Within a sweep picking lick, notes on the same string are always played with either a hammer-on or a pull-off. Use a hammer-on when ascending the one octave pattern and a pull-off when descending. This will allow you to play the arpeggio with maximum speed. Otherwise, alternate picking must be employed. Adding this picking pattern destroys the fluidity of the right hand.

Watch carefully at 08:20 as Dennis provides a demonstration of an extended E major arpeggio in root position. The first three notes are picked with fluid downstrokes in an eighth note triplet rhythm. The remainder of the notes, beginning with the pull-off, are played with fluid upstrokes.

Using Other String Groups

On your own time, determine where all of the arpeggios presented in this scene can be played on the remaining string groups. Dennis gets this process started by demonstrating how to play the E major arpeggios on the second, third, and fourth strings.
Chapter 5: (13:07) 2 Octave Arpeggios In the last scene, Dennis explained how to play a three string sweep arpeggio. He also demonstrated how to extend these arpeggios to span a full octave. In this scene, he demonstrates triadic arpeggios that span two full octaves.

You must master the exercises in the previous scene before proceeding to the arpeggio patterns presented in this scene.

2 Octave Em Arpeggio (Root Position)

A. Technique

Hammer-ons, pull-offs, and finger rolls become even more important when playing 2 octave arpeggio shapes. Notice how a hammer-on or pull-off is applied when two notes are played on the same string. Within this arpeggio, the third finger must perform a roll from the fourth string to the third string.

Be careful that you do not accidentally hammer-on to the second string with the third finger when descending this pattern. Do not let the third finger make contact with this string! Otherwise, the arpeggio is converted into a major arpeggio. This will sound awful when played over an E minor chord.

B. Rhythm

Practice all 2 octave arpeggios in the following rhythms: eighth notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes. Dennis has written each pattern in triplets under the "Supplemental Content" tab. Always practice these patterns with a metronome. Do not worry about speed at first! Focus on perfect rhythm and a smooth, connected sound. Then, gradually increase the tempo.

C. Transposing the Pattern

All of the shapes presented in this scene are movable shapes. They can be transposed to the remaining eleven minor chords. At 02:53, Dennis slides the entire pattern up a half step. This creates an F minor sweep arpeggio. Practice this shape in all practical positions. If your guitar has 24 frets, you can practice this pattern one octave higher. D minor is the highest arpeggio that can be played on a guitar with 22 frets. For guitars with 21 frets, C# minor is the highest two octave, root position arpeggio that can be played. This arpeggio pattern becomes more difficult at the high and low extremes of the fretboard. It becomes increasingly more difficult to perform the stretch between the notes on the first string as the pattern is shifted lower on the fretboard. When playing in higher positions, accuracy becomes more of an issue due to the small space between each of the frets. Also, the strings float higher above the frets as you move closer to the bridge. This factor will potentially slow you down. This is one reason why most shredders prefer relatively low action.

D. Alternate Fingering

This root position pattern can be fingered differently. Sweep picking master Yngwie Malmsteen typically plays a root position minor arpeggio with an alternate fingering. This pattern begins with the second finger on the root note. Then, the note G is played on the fourth string instead of the fifth string. Next, the ring finger hammers onto the 9th fret. The rest of the arpeggio pattern remains the same.

Note: The "Yngwie" fingering for each arpeggio is listed in the second measure of each line under "Sweeping - Advanced" in the "Supplemental Content" section.

Dennis' fingering is more practical when playing low on the fretboard. The Yngwie version is slightly more comfortable when playing high up on the fretboard. This fingering tends to sound better too when played in high positions. Notes on the low strings sound strange when played high up on the fretboard.

Two Octave Em Arpeggio in First Inversion

This particular pattern is quite difficult to play because of the finger rolls involved. The third finger must roll between the notes on the fifth and fourth strings. The first finger rolls across the third, second, and first strings. It also features a wide stretch between the first and third fingers on the fifth string. Unfortunately, there is no alternative way to finger this arpeggio.

Repeat the same process listed above when practicing this pattern. Practice the arpeggio in a variety of keys, rhythms, and tempos. Pay careful attention to where the root notes are located within each inverted arpeggio pattern. The location of the root note becomes very important when transposing the pattern to a new key.

Two Octave Em Arpeggio in 2nd Inversion

This is the easiest two octave arpeggio since it contains no finger rolls.

The notes on the fourth, third, and second strings can be fingered an alternate way. Try fingering these notes with the middle and index fingers respectively instead of the ring and middle fingers.

2 Octave E Major Arpeggio (Root Position)

When learning the major patterns, compare the fingering to the parallel minor pattern. This will help you memorize each pattern in the most efficient manner.

This pattern features slurs on the fifth and first strings. The second finger rolls to fret the notes on the fourth, third, and second strings.

Jason Becker Fingering

Fret the root note with the second finger. Then, play G# on the fourth string. Next, hammer up to B with the third finger. Now, the third finger must roll across the fourth, third, and second strings. Some players have an easier time rolling with the third finger, because this joint is slightly more flexible. If this is the case for you, use this alternate fingering.

2 Octave E Major Arpeggio in First Inversion

This pattern features slurs on the fifth and first strings. The third finger rolls across the fifth and fourth strings at the 14th fret. The first finger rolls across the highest two strings at the 12th fret.

2 Octave E Major Arpeggio in 2nd Inversion

This shape is used multiple times in the guitar solo to "Selkies" by Between the Buried and Me. Click here to listen to this song.

Barre the first finger across the high three strings. Roll to the appropriate note as necessary. This is much easier than jumping your first finger between the third and first strings.

Performing Sweep Arpeggios

You must know each of these inversions equally well in order to seamlessly play through a progression consisting of sweep arpeggios. An example of such a piece is provided under the "Supplemental Content" tab. Also, visit Matt Brown's 11th rock lesson for a transcription of the intro to "You Enjoy Myself" by Phish. This intro consists solely of sweep arpeggio patterns.
Chapter 6: (00:32) Wrap-up Focus on the basic fundamentals of sweep picking before advancing to more complicated material. Developing this technique is like building a house. You must start with a strong foundation. Otherwise, the upper structure will topple.

Practicing the Etude

Before you pick up your guitar, analyze the chord progression in the etude. Determine which pattern is used for each arpeggio. Then, begin the piece at a very slow tempo such as 60 beats per minute. Gradually work your way towards the tempo Dennis demonstrated in the first scene of the video.

Preview of Next Lesson

Right hand tapping technique will be covered in the following lesson. A similar approach will be taken with this material. Dennis will explore the basics and work his way toward complex tapping applications.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

bchang0999bchang0999 replied

thank you i finally can finger roll easily just have to build up speed now thanks :)

zane washingtonzane washington replied

I can't do the finger roll with my pinky

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied

luckily it's not something that's mandatory, I encourage things like that to work on/eliminate obstacles I see in my own playing and in students

verciapoanceverciapoance replied

The double roll minor is present in Greg Howe's Jump Start at one point :( I hate it!!!!!

jc110188jc110188 replied

You know i never got sweep picking until someone told me "its got to be as natural as eating a sandwich."

gabe dgabe d replied

I swear I hear someone eating a sandwich in the background of scene 2

brunopa1brunopa1 replied

great lesson!

hassertthassertt replied

I'd love private lessons with Dennis.

ciaran_welshciaran_welsh replied

Feel the power of the Beard!

chase_1995chase_1995 replied

The intro made want to cry ;)

gorbaggorbag replied

I've been learning that Etude... it's really fun to learn and is making me a lot better at sweeping!

xxfigure8xxxxfigure8xx replied

omg thats impossible u make look so much easier than it is

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

gee, maybe now i can learn it the right way! :) great job dennis!!

dripmandripman replied

that is the coolest sweep picking ever.

tmarinzeltmarinzel replied

thank you Dennis!!!! finally a good sweep picking lesson \m/(>.

kevinacekevinace replied

There's another great one on the way from Mr. Kris Norris as well.

Lead Concepts & Techniques

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Dennis Hodges blends conceptual lead instruction for developing solos, improvising, and harmonizing along with lead techniques such as legato, sweeping, and alternate picking.

Major Scale ImprovisingLesson 1

Major Scale Improvising

Dennis covers the basics of the major scale. Then, he introduces you to improvisation within a one octave scale pattern.

Length: 25:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Scale ImprovisingLesson 2

Minor Scale Improvising

Dennis introduces the minor scale. You will improvise within this scale and work on a written solo as well.

Length: 26:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
HarmonizingLesson 3


Dennis teaches harmonization in 3rds, diatonic and non-diatonic 4ths, 5ths, diatonic 6ths, and atonal harmonization.

Length: 27:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lead Guitar ImprovisingLesson 4

Lead Guitar Improvising

Dennis teaches key improvisational concepts such as blending scales, phrasing, and staying within a scale.

Length: 29:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Sweep PickingLesson 5

Sweep Picking

Dennis Hodges teaches sweeping technique, 3 string triads, and 2 octave arpeggios. Also included is an etude written specifically for JamPlay!

Length: 39:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping: Basic and Advanced TechniquesLesson 6

Tapping: Basic and Advanced Techniques

Dennis covers many tapping techniques in this lesson. From basic to advanced, get ready to learn something new!

Length: 39:47 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lead Concepts and Techniques: TricksLesson 7

Lead Concepts and Techniques: Tricks

Dennis teaches a bunch of cool metal and rock tricks in this lesson!

Length: 34:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Writing A Rock Guitar SoloLesson 8

Writing A Rock Guitar Solo

Dennis Hodges teaches you some of the basics to writing your own solos!

Length: 47:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lead Guitar ImprovisationLesson 9

Lead Guitar Improvisation

Dennis Hodges teaches the basics of improvising a solo over a backing track.

Length: 28:44 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
InterpretationLesson 10


Dennis teaches some basics on how to interpret a piece of music and make it your own.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Soloing In E MinorLesson 11

Soloing In E Minor

Dennis dissects a solo he wrote that stays in the 12th position box of E minor.

Length: 15:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Soloing In A MinorLesson 12

Soloing In A Minor

Dennis Hodges dissects an advanced, extended solo he wrote in A Minor for this lesson.

Length: 33:28 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Metal Solo IntroductionLesson 13

Metal Solo Introduction

JamPlay instructor Dennis Hodges is back with a two sided metal solo! This pack of lessons contains an intermediate and advanced level metal solo. You'll be utilizing bends, sweeping, arpeggios and talking...

Length: 2:11 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Easy Metal Solo Phrase #1Lesson 14

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #1

To get things started, Dennis offers up the first four measure phrase of this easy metal solo. He also discusses the E Phrygian Dominant mode, which will be used throughout most of this solo.

Length: 3:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #1Lesson 15

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #1

Now that you have the first phrases of the easy solo under your fingers, let's put a little heat into the lick. You're working out of the same E Phrygian Dominant scale here, but you're adding some embellishments...

Length: 4:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Easy Metal Solo Phrase #2Lesson 16

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #2

Here's another four bar phrase of the easy metal solo. This phrase is predominantly arpeggio-based. It ends with a big bend and slide out.

Length: 4:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #2Lesson 17

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #2

Like the second phrase of the easy solo, this advanced phrase is also predominantly arpeggio-based. However, it adds speed and flash for a more speed metal vibe.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Easy Metal Solo Phrase #3Lesson 18

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #3

Dennis is back with the next phrase of the easy metal solo. Phrase three incorporates a step sequence where you play a note, go up a step, then leap down in a repeated fashion.

Length: 3:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #3Lesson 19

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #3

Just like the other advanced phrases, this one is an embellishment of the easy lick. To amp up the step sequence of the easy lick, this advanced phrase adds triplets.

Length: 6:16 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Easy Metal Solo Phrase #4Lesson 20

Easy Metal Solo Phrase #4

Dennis Hodges is back with another lick from the easy metal solo. Phrase four is the final phrase of the easy metal solo. This lick isn't incredibly fast, but it combines a pull-off to open strings, which...

Length: 3:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #4Lesson 21

Advanced Metal Solo Phrase #4

Phrase four of the advanced solo is another embellishment of the easy solo. To amp up the speed and give it a more metal edge, Dennis introduces trills that bounce off the open strings.

Length: 5:56 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Easy Metal Solo ConnectionsLesson 22

Easy Metal Solo Connections

At this point, you should have all four phrases of the easy solo under your fingers. In this lick entry, Dennis discusses how to connect the phrases together in order to play the entire solo seamlessly.

Length: 4:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Advanced Metal Solo ConnectionsLesson 23

Advanced Metal Solo Connections

Congratulations! You've learned all four phrases of the advanced metal solo. Now, let's take a look at how to connect those phrases for a seamless solo!

Length: 6:07 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Dennis Hodges

About Dennis Hodges View Full Biography For better or worse, Dennis Hodges cannot stop playing music, and (he hopes) will never stop playing music.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Dennis had a tremendous passion for drawing. He couldn't stop copying moves from bands he saw on MTV, though, and it didn't help that his parents filled the house with Santana, Stevie Ray, and Allman Bros. (on real records, no less!) so it wasn't long till he got his first guitar. It was junk. Within a few weeks his parents traded in a poor acoustic for a less junky 3/4-size electric.

Dennis started lessons right away at the age of 8. He still remembers hating it for awhile, and not taking it seriously until he was 12. He is thankful his parents forced him to practice early on and kept paying for lessons, even though rational thinking should have stopped them after a year.

Around this time drawing became less important, and guitar consumed all his attention. After 6 years of lessons he parted ways with his teacher and, after trying out two others with no results, decided to continue alone. His nerdistic tendencies paid off, as he put in hours working on picking and left hand exercises and learned as many Randy Rhoads and Kirk Hammett solos as he could.

Luckily, there were playing opportunities at school talent shows and church. Dennis was playing bass at his church when he was 13, helping to hone his performance skills in a group setting.

In high school, Dennis joined the marching band on sousaphone for all 4 years. It was as awesome as you could expect. He was also fortunate enough to be in several different metal bands, still play at church, and get the incredible opportunity to play guitar for many local community theaters. This kept his sight-reading in shape and gave him an appreciation for different styles of music (and paid pretty well, from a high schooler's perspective).

In 2001, Dennis came to Bexley, Ohio to study guitar at Capital University with Stan Smith. His studies emphasized jazz and classical guitar. Here his metal past merged with a deeper understanding of the instrument and music in general, and the basis for most of his teaching style was set in motion.

Dennis now plays guitar for Upper Arlington Lutheran Church every Sunday, for St. Christopher in Grandview, Ohio, with the youth group, and also plays for touring Broadway shows that stop in Columbus. Occasionally, he plays weddings and private parties, and he is starting a new cover band with some friends, called Dr. Awkward. He is blessed to have his understanding and supportive wife Kate, and is glad to be at JamPlay!

Lesson Information

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Acoustic Guitar

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.

Marcelo Berestovoy Marcelo Berestovoy

Marcelo teaches the eight basic right hand moves for the Rumba Flamenca strum pattern. He then shows you how to apply it...

Free LessonSeries Details
Trace Bundy Trace Bundy

Trace Bundy talks about the different ways you can use multiple capos to enhance your playing.

Free LessonSeries Details
Mark Lincoln Mark Lincoln

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Free LessonSeries Details
Jessica Baron Jessica Baron

Jessica kindly introduces herself, her background, and her approach to this series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve Eulberg Steve Eulberg

Steve Eulberg does a quick review of this lesson series and talks about moving on.

Free LessonSeries Details
Miche Fambro Miche Fambro

Miche introduces several new chord concepts that add color and excitement to any progression.

Free LessonSeries Details
Amber Russell Amber Russell

Playing fingerstyle requires the ability to play different techniques at the same time. This of course, is not always an...

Free LessonSeries Details
Mary Flower Mary Flower

Mary talks about the key of F in this fantastic lesson.

Free LessonSeries Details

Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Electric Guitar

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.

Ian Argys Ian Argys

Lesson 6 is all about the major mode. As with the other lessons you'll be taking a look at the individual notes on the strings...

Free LessonSeries Details
Emil Werstler Emil Werstler

Emil takes you through some techniques that he uses frequently in his style of playing. Topics include neck bending, percussive...

Free LessonSeries Details
Joe Burcaw Joe Burcaw

Join Joe as he shows one of his favorite drills for strengthening his facility around the fretboard: The Spider Technique.

Free LessonSeries Details
Dan Sugarman Dan Sugarman

Dan Sugarman gives us an introduction and preview to his series - Sugarman's Shredding Revolution.

Free LessonSeries Details
Straten Marshall Straten Marshall

Free LessonSeries Details
Larry Cook Larry Cook

In this lesson, Larry discusses and demonstrates how to tune your bass. He explains why tuning is critical and discusses...

Free LessonSeries Details
Brent-Anthony Johnson Brent-Anthony Johnson

Just like with the plucking hand, Brent-Anthony shows us the basics of proper fretting hand technique. In addition, he shows...

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve Smyth Steve Smyth

JamPlay sits down with veteran fret grinder Steve Smyth of Forbidden and The EssenEss Project. He talks about how he got...

Free LessonSeries Details
Lisa Pursell Lisa Pursell

Lisa breaks into the very basics of the electric guitar. She starts by explaining the parts of the guitar. Then, she dives...

Free LessonSeries Details
John DeServio John DeServio

JD teaches the pentatonic and blues scales and explains where and when you can apply them.

Free LessonSeries Details

Join over 512369 guitarists who have learned how to play in weeks... not years!

Signup today to enjoy access to our entire database of video lessons, along with our exclusive set of learning tools and features.

Unlimited Lesson Viewing

A JamPlay membership gives you access to every lesson, from every teacher on our staff. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times you watch a lesson. Watch as many times as you need.

Live Lessons

Exclusive only to JamPlay, we currently broadcast 8-10 hours of steaming lesson services directly to you! Enjoy the benefits of in-person instructors and the conveniences of our community.

Interactive Community

Create your own profile, manage your friends list, and contact users with your own JamPlay Mailbox. JamPlay also features live chat with teachers and members, and an active Forum.

Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 126 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00
Get Started

Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!

Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

Join thousands of others that LIKE JamPlay!