String skipping is a technique where you play notes from strings of wider distances, either all the time, or partially.
This gives you the ability to play wider intervals on the guitar, that is, notes that are further away in pitch than each other.
Since string skipping gives you more options, using this technique will also help you get out of any rut you may find yourself in when improvising on guitar.
In this lesson you’ll find 7 string skipping exercises, or else guitar riffs, licks and solos that use this technique. You should notice what is being achieved with this technique and use it in your own musical compositions.
Exercise 1: A minor pentatonic scale sequence
The first exercise is a simple scale sequence in the A minor pentatonic.
If you already improvise on guitar, try improvising in the minor pentatonic right after practicing this exercise and deliberately use string skipping technique.
You’re likely to come up with things you usually don’t!
Exercise 2: A minor natural scale sequence
In this exercise we’ll repeat the same process we did on the A minor pentatonic scale on the A minor natural scale, using a 3 note per string pattern. (Note: 3 note per string patterns are my favorite patterns for learning scales. I find them way more efficient than the CAGED system where major and minor scales have three notes on some strings and two notes on others)
We will also be using triplet rhythms and legato technique on notes on the same string.
Exercise 3: Minor pentatonic guitar lick
We’ll be using the minor pentatonic scale again but this time string skipping is used in the context of a lick rather than just an exercise.
The minor pentatonic is probably the most widely used scale in electric guitar licks and solos. Many guitarists have rehashed the same old licks (in different forms and variations) on this scale – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, string skipping shows you new ways you can play this scale and if you integrate this technique in your playing, you’re likely to come up with licks that are not just cool, but also original.
Exercise 4: Another minor pentatonic lick
I told you this scale is used widely. So here’s another lick making use of it.
As you may have noticed, there are no specific rules on which strings to skip when playing guitar licks. Just be prepared that since the interval leap is wider than you usually play, you will need to find new ways to resolve them properly.
Which is great, since it gets you thinking outside the box!
Exercise 5: Drone guitar riff
Next, we’ll try our first guitar riff which makes use of a drone, that is a note that keeps getting repeated in the riff.
(You may note that unlike in the guitar licks, there are repeat signs at the beginning and end of the riff. The reason is that guitar riffs are meant to be repeated, though they’re not always repeated note for note, that is, the same riff is played in different forms and variations)
Click here for a lesson on how to generate as many guitar riffs as you want using this “drone” technique.
Exercise 6: Minor pentatonic scale short solo
What we’ve done so far, is either a short exercise, a guitar lick or a guitar riff.
What guitar players also play is guitar solos. Unlike the lick where you’re expected to inject melody in the music, or the riff where your role is to be the engine, or driving force of the song, the solo is your time to shine.
There are different ways to do this including using good phrasing, creating beautiful and emotional melodies as well as playing fast and things that are technically demanding.
String skipping is one of the options you have make your guitar solos stand out.
In this example solo, I’ll be using string skipping quite sparingly – notes adjacent to each other are important in melody creation.
However, you may notice the wider intervals give the solo an extra touch.
Exercise 7: Major pentatonic scale guitar riff
The drone guitar riff in exercise 5 is using notes from the E Mixolydian mode, the music theory behind which goes beyond the purposes of this lesson.
In this riff, I’ll be using notes from the A major pentatonic scale.
Conclusion: The way you look at technique
There are many guitar techniques you should learn. Apart from string skipping, I’ve used some of them in the above examples, namely string bending, vibrato and pull offs.
The reason why you should learn a technique, is to have more options to express yourself in guitar playing.
When you learn a new technique, don’t expect to master it after the first few times you practice it.
You will master it by practicing it on its own but also, by putting it in real musical contexts.
Thus, to get the most benefit of this lesson I suggest you spend some time working on the exercises until you can play them perfectly and on time, and also some time to creating guitar riffs, licks and solos that incorporate string skipping technique.
If you do this with every new technique you learn, you will not only learn the technique better and faster but also become a better guitar player and musician sooner.
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