Combining scales with arpeggios


After reading a few other threads about what to actually do with your shred skills I thought about it for a while. I realised that something I always loved the sound of was the Shrapnel-era way of intertwine sweeping arpeggios with alternate picked scales. Especially ascending sweep arpeggios going into descending picked scales. Young Gilbert did this a lot as well as Vinnie Moore and young Joey Tafolla. Check out Tafolla record Out of the sun for some great examples of this. The solo in Zero hour (at 9:10) is just fantastic!

I’m working on a lick that I think is party stolen from Gilbert. It starts at 12th position descending through a Em scale to an Em arpeggio with pinky at 12th fret, finishing with sliding down the high E-string to 5th position descening down the Em scale again. The last scale actually starts with legato on the E-string but then mostly picked for the rest of the descending part.

I have worked on this for some time now but have a hard time going from sweeping to alternate. For me it’s very different feel. The angle of the pick is different and the motion feels totally different. The motion goes more into the guitar when sweeping for me versus the more loose alternate picking motion. Is there anyone who has worked on this concept and has any thought’s about how to overcome difficulties with fast switching of mechanics?

Furthermore it would be interesting to get some different ideas of variations or how to expand this concept. For example I also really love MacAlpines way of combining sweeping with tapping. Maybe you have some cool ideas or licks that you could share?


something like this?


the basic answer is going to be along the lines of just figuring out EXACTLY what you want to do and if it isnt coming naturally, then just do it really slow a few times to start getting the pattern grooved etc


Yeah! That is a great example! I think Troy has shown a variation of this where Yngwie combines his minor arpeggio with swept ascending scales in just this way. I love the sound of this and think it’s extremely useful. For me, this style also feels more comfortable because you keep sweeping instead of going over to alternate. But for some reason, when I do this, I seem to lock into the sweeping scale style and that’s something I try to break out from.

Don’t you have some killer licks to share, Adam?

Secondly, how do you make the youtube vids start at a certain place in the middle of the video?


I think you’re right! This is probably one of those things where you should go through the motions slowly and figure out how it’s all connected. At the same time I’m afraid of practising to slowly and work on inefficient motions.

Something I came up with a long time ago, may be what you’re looking for. My picking is a complete reverse of Eric/Yngwie system, just tell me if you need me to explain what I did there.

At the end of the link add &t=3m30s or whenever else you want it to start.

It’s an excerpt from a saxophone piece my friend showed me, to be honest I have no idea how I played that stuff, but there’s a sweep combined with scale at the end.


Hahaha! That last video was out of this world good! This might be some of my favourite playing ever. If Anton Oparin has the optimal style for aggressive alternate picking for me, this has to be the optimal sounding smooth arpeggio playing. Just WOW! Everything so extremely clear and defined.

Thanks so much for your ideas, I’ll see if I can figure out your lick by ear.


@qwertygitarr that’s probably the most notes I have heard in a 4-sec segment - consider my face melted!!! :smile: Sounds very cool.

Another master in mixing scales and arpeggios is my man-crush Vinnie Moore: the intro of Morning Star is a great sounding example of this, even though the speed is moderate (interestingly, the piece opens with a major II-V-I progression!):

\begin{Shameless self promotion}
I actually recently managed a decent cover of Morning Star - and could not have done it without CTC and the forums (finally, after many years!). If you are interested you can find it on my youtube channel (there’s a link to it if you click on my avatar)
\end{Shameless self promotion}


I gotta say that there is something almost ASMR-like watching and hearing your playing, Tommo. I have no idea why but I guess it’s the sensation of watching someone doing their craft to perfection. There is something with your attack that is so satisfying. So perfectly clear and at the same time meaty and fat. And the timing and execution is of course spotless.

Well I love Vinnie as well and always loved the way he plays his swept arpeggios. They’re always super clear and I love how he uses them as surprises in the intro solos on the instructional videos.

Hera are some great examples:

Just to give another example of something that blows my mind, here is Gilberts way of combining arps and scales. Although not nearly as clear as Vinnies arps, it gives such an energy flow to the lick.


Yea, that was great!


Great Lick! Sorry, I’ve nothing more to contribute. :wink: