What is swiping?

I have not been able to gleen what this is from discussions r the tutorials I’ve watched.

And secondarily, is there a place where there is a vocabulary of terms now? I know it was talked about a few months back.

thanks in advance

Swiping is covered in one of the Michael Angelo Batio sections of the Anti-Gravity section of Masters Of Mechanics. There you can actually see what it is, performed by a master. That will do far more for you than any reply I could give you in words although I can tell you it is one method some guitarists use when changing from one string to an adjacent string and is useful in high speed situations.

It’s when you hit the strings during string changes, instead of getting over them. It is a thing that happens occasionally in almost everyone’s playing, in which case you might call it a “mistake”. However like everything you can turn this around and make it intentional, in which case it becomes a “technique” and not a mistake. Many great players use it systematically like this, where they may not necessarily be aware this is what is happening, but they are at a subconscious level relying on it instead of making an escape motion that would avoid it.

Here are some of our features on the subject:


No but we’ll probably come up with something similar eventually. Part of me dislikes the “glossary” mentality of thinking you can understand everything just by reading a one-line description of what it is, instead of reading, let’s say, a Wikipedia type entry on an entire subject that includes concepts and video examples. We’ll probably arrive at something more like that.

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Interesting, and has given me a new question: Is this only really applied organically as players speed up their playing, or has anyone successfully integrated the technique into their playing purposefully?

I just tried to do it, but it’s very forced and awkward.

I would guess it is mostly the former. As I wrote in my previous post, it is useful in high speed situations. I can’t see any use for someone to purposefully integrate it into his playing at slow or moderate speeds. if some people do purposely integrate it into their playing, they would do so for high speed situations only.

If you watched the first video then you saw me do it, right? So yes you can use it intentionally if you like.

Personally I don’t do that. I get better results by trying to make the “correct” movement, and if it happens by accident only occasionally, I will most likely never know without Magnet footage.


I practise swiping all the time! It was one of Troys biggest eye openers for me. Having a lifetime of playing trying to avoid hitting strings and developing a lot of tension and unnatural movements, the realisation that you CAN play through strings and making it almost inaudible was huge.

A big thing for me was realising that if the picking movement is natural, relaxed and has som authority behind it, the swiping is almost impossible to feel and, if you’re lucky, hear.

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I think this is probably subjective. I know in Antigravity I talk about not being able to hear it on “Speed Kills” when I was first looking into this. But I can hear it plain as day now in certain spots, like the circular nines lick, and I’m almost embarrassed for my former self. Out there in the real world I think there is a pretty wide variation in what different people can hear. And what sounds obviously “swiped” to one person might sound just fine to someone else.

I think we have to be careful with loaded terms like “unnatural”. Even if someone use swiping, most players that do this only do it selectively. So they still have some kind of base picking motion that is clean and avoids the strings. And I would imagine that base picking motion feels comfortable for them. So which of these clean movements are the “natural” ones and which are the “unnatural” ones?

I think it just boils down to the player having learned certain things and not others. If someone never learns how to make a certain movement, it’s possible they’re not even doing it right to begin with. If we start saying that movement is awkward then we may be sending the wrong message to someone who is learning.

Yes, definitely subjective. And I’m afraid my whole post must have come out wrong. This was all MY experience, absolutely NOT some kind of truth for everybody. I can understand that if you analyse guitar playing a lot, then you hear nuances that isn’t easy to spot for the less experienced. So let me put it this way then, to ME it was ground breaking that you could actually play something that sounded acceptable (to me) while doing something as forbidden as hitting wrong strings. And it made my guitar playing life a lot happier and fun. I was only trying to show case that swiping definitely is something that is practised by guitar players around the world.

Once again, the intension was not to say that trying to avoiding strings is unnatural. I only described the movements I did pre CODE as often feeling unnatural and not smooth. I see how my quote could be interpreted wrong but I though it was obvious I was talking about my specific case.

Not a problem! Sorry if that was obvious from context and I read that wrong - I can be dense.

Yeah, I was kind of surprised to hear this your statement there. When I was listening to Batio’s music long before Cracking the code etc., it was always audible to me quite clear that something like this (extra noise caused by ‘swiping’) is going on.

In the last couple of days I noticed that my swiping becomes more frequent - but also more silent - if I use more edge picking. I think that this is because the attack of the notes gets a little less sharp and more scratchy, and the noise of the muted string(s) blends in almost completely with the pick attack noise of the “correct” note.

I also have the impression that some of the best “swipers” tend to use a lot of edge picking (Vinnie Moore and Jorge Strunz among others) - so maybe there’s something to this?

On the contrary, when swiping happens with a flatter attack I can both hear and feel the pick grabbing the wrong string.

Anyone else had a similar experience?

EDIT: Now I have the suspicion that this was addressed somehow in the Strunz & Farah analysis video and I had just forgotten about it :thinking: - if so apologies for the repetition!


Yeah I think there is even possibly an extreme of this where the pick can fully contact another string but not actually “play” that string. Like, if the pick is on its way up, and the edge is also sloped, there just isn’t enough to contact to pluck a note. The pick just slides “up” the string.

For this to work, you actually have to be making an escape movement. So it’s not edge picking by itself that allows you to barrel through a string - when players do that, we hear it. It’s that the motion path of the pick and the edge, together, have to essentially make it impossible to play a note on that string.

This is a Paul Gilbert solo, one of the highest regarded players in the business, and his swipes don’t sound too refined here. You can hear them in the lick starting at 36 seconds in and there’s an especially loud swipe right around 40 or 41 seconds in. he does it at the same part of this repeating lick every time he does it… It’s interesting that back when there was “Guitar For The Practicing Musician Performance Notes” where they described every song they transcribed and gave tips on how to play it, the writer of the column wrote something very similar to ( or maybe exactly this): “Paul Gilbert seems to be trying to play a notch faster than Yngwie at the expense of some clarity.” See if you hear these swipes; they sound like a scratching noise.


Hey Ace, do you know if someone ever released the Cherry Lane stuff electronically? I have every issue of GFTPM since 1983, until it’s demise, in boxes on the wall, and would really like them to be referenceable without the hassle. :slight_smile:

Not sure what the point is, but I would try not to read into this too much. It’s a thing that happens occasionally in all great playing. MAB for example swipes the same phrase, in exactly the same way, and it’s just as obvious. He does it in our interview, and he does on his Star Licks tape. Di Meola does it too. This type of phrase is a worst-case example for any one-way pickslanter. All these players sound great in the larger picture.

Honestly, I don’t know if it has ever been released electronically. As far as I know, it has not, but I’ve never looked into it. That sounds like a great collection you’ve got! That was a great magazine.

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WE think it’s great. Home organizers, parent, and girlfriends, not so much. :wink:

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The point is to help answer the question posed by the title of the thread by giving an example of what swiping sounds like. There is nothing here to “read into” at all.