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Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Tony Rice Rhythm Fill Sweeps


As guitar players, oftentimes when we think of “sweep picking” techniques, the first stylistic associations that come to mind are heavy metal and shred guitar playing. However, sweep picking methods are used in a variety of different guitar styles, including, but not limited to, flatpick and bluegrass guitar playing.


While alternate picking is certainly the predominant method of choice in the flatpicking tradition, there are critical instances where sweep picking can and should be used, and, believe it or not, one of these instances in particular was pioneered by bluegrass guitar icon, Tony Rice.


In this online guitar lesson, Punch Brothers co-founder, Grammy Award-winning guitarist, and ArtistWorks bluegrass acoustic guitar instructor, Chris Eldridge, teaches Tony Rice’s unique sweep picking technique that he frequently employed in the context of rhythm guitar playing.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass guitar from a master musician like Chris Eldridge? Try some free online guitar lessons now!


“Tony would do these slow, sweeping downstrokes and upstrokes when playing rhythm guitar that created this really cool texture,” Chris explains. “These are great for dropping in between vocal phrases.”


Tony’s sweep picking techniques were not only designed to improve playing efficiency from a mechanical standpoint, but they also create a unique tone and alter the way the acoustic guitar sounds and responds sonically.


“When you compare the sonic characteristics of the same run played using alternate picking versus Tony’s sweep picking technique, you’ll hear that the sweep picking method produces a fuller and richer tone,” explains Chris. “This simple adjustment has a huge impact on the sound you produce.”


To learn more about Tony Rice’s sweep picking technique in the context of bluegrass rhythm guitar and how to incorporate it into your playing, dive into this online guitar lesson from Chris Eldridge:


Tony Rice Rhythm Fill Sweeps with Chris Eldridge:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play bluegrass guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Chris Eldridge, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Chris’ course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic bluegrass tunes, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Playing in Open D with Chris Eldridge

Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: The 3 Shape Method with Bryan Sutton

Flatpick Guitar Lesson: Pentatonic Patterns Across the Fretboard with Tyler Grant




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