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Skip It! (An Introduction To String-Skipping)

First exercises

Let's try to take a skip to string-skipping.

The first example is a short run in the key of C major, starting on E (so are we in E Phrygian now? You decide! =) ). As you can see, we're playing on two adjacent strings.

Now, let's start on the C (5th fret G-string), play the next two diatonic notes (D and E), then SKIP the B-string and play on in the 5th position of the high E-string.

Sounds quite a bit different, compared to our previous "good ol' shoes"-adjacent-string-run, doesn't it?

OK, seriously, I am not saying that the "regular, adjacent-string playing" is old-fashioned or not cool. You can play just as many bad licks with string skipping as you can with the "regular way of playing". I am just saying that everyone should look into this and maybe add that "tool" to your repertoire. You can use it both to create mind-boggling licks and to get some cool melodies... to break out of your box, too...

You might wanna mute the B-string with either the left or the right hand, especially if you use a lot of gain. String-skipping sounds best of you have as least noise as possible (D'uh!), and the string "in the middle", between the ones you're playing on can create some really annoying noises. So try to mute it, either with a part of your picking hand or i.e. with the finger-tip of one of the l.h.-fingers.

Now,let's create a repeating pattern with the six notes of our second lick. Starting on C, skipping the B-string, we're ascending and descending again.

If you got bored with the way that that sounded with your regular adjacent-string-scale pattern, maybe you'll like the way it sounds with string-skipping. After all, it's a nice little leap from the E to the A... a fourth.

One other thing: of course, all the licks I am gonna show you in this article can be played in many ways. You can play our third exercise by PICKING all the notes (which is quite a challenge at high-speed, even if your picking technique is pretty good already... the skip might be confusing at first), or by using a combination of picking and legato, you can even hammer on / pull off ALL the notes. Just take your time and try different ways of playing this stuff...

Now, let's move up the neck, in the key of C Major. This requires that you know the scale patterns (hmmmm... I wrote an article about three note per string-patterns, which should be helpful). Here is the lick:

I like the sound of that, has a slight classical vibe IMO.

And, you guessed it, a descending version. Remember to try both picking and legato-style.

OK, let's ascend again, but this time we're gonna use the sequence we looked at a few licks ago... that ascending / descending repeating pattern… If we move along the neck again, using the same patterns once more, but applying that sequence to it, this is what we get:

Let's forget about a descending version of that for now (you can figure out that one by yourself), and let's take a different approach now:

Previously, we stayed in the same position on the adjacent strings. What I mean is: we started in 5th position on the G-string, and when we skipped to the E-string, we started at the 5th fret there, too. And it pretty much stayed that way when we moved the sequences up the neck.

This time, we're gonna skip the string while simultaneously changing the position ("Wow, feeling adventurous today, Vandenberg?!?")
Here is how that looks... try to tackle it after feeling comfortable with the previous exercises:

There are all kinds of different variations you can come up with, so experiment a bit.

Now let's take one of the previous examples and move it to different strings… i.e. the low E- and D-string.

This might be even harder, since you're on the lower strings and have to skip some strings. But it's a neat sound, and it's always good to be able to use a technique in all the possible positions and on all possible string-combinations. Here's the exercise:

Taking it up a notch >>