String Skipping

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: guitar techniques
rating: 9 / votes: 30 
Here's a lesson on string skipping, the bane of many a guitarist's life. String skipping can be quite difficult to do, but if you master it you can create hi-tech sounding licks that can help your solos really stand out. If you want to hear some cool string skipping, listen to Paul Gilbert and/or buy his videos Intense Rock, Intense Rock II, and Terrifying Guitar Trip. Lets start with simple repetitive patterns:
Fig 1:
v = upstroke
^ = downstroke

       v  ^  v  ^  v  ^  v  ^ etc.
e|-12-13-15-------------------------------|
B|-------------------12-14-15-------------|
G|----------12-13-15----------------------|
D|----------------------------12-14-15----|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|

e|----------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|-12-13-15-------------------------------|
D|-------------------12-13-15-------------|
A|----------12-14-15----------------------|
E|----------------------------12-13-15-12~|
That one was in E diminished (half-whole). One thing you may have noticed about that lick was that it consists entirely of mini phrases of three notes each. So, initially, you'll want to set your metronome to triplets (what, you don't have a metronome? Buy one! ). But, if you want to make things sound even more complex, set it to semiquavers. (More on this in the lesson on phrasing, also on this site). Also, if you followed the picking arrows correctly, you might have seen that you were using 'outside' picking, meaning that with each string skip, the pick first travels over and past the string in the direction of the last pick stroke, changes direction and hits the string on the 'outside'. The alternative to this is of course called inside picking. To execute Fig 1 using inside picking, simply switch the pick stroke directions. I personally prefer outside picking because I find it cleaner and easier, although physically it is slightly less efficient than inside picking. String skipping is often used to play scalar passages like Fig 2. Nuno Bettencourt, formerly of Extreme, often played lines like these:
Fig 2:
                                    repeat
e|-8---------------8----------------------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|---12-10-9-10-12---12-10-9-10-12--------|
D|----------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
Here's a Paul Gilbert lick off of the Intense Rock II video that involves string skipping to play arpeggios:
Fig 3: (D major)
                                  repeat
e|-10----------------10----------------10-|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|----14-11----11-14----11-14----11-14----|
D|----------12----------------12----------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
If you're really brave, use string skipping in conjuction with sweeping, legato and tapping to create really wild licks!
Fig 4: (E phrygian dominant, one of my fav. modes)

( ) = r/h tap.

e|-------------------12h13h16h(17)/(19)---|
B|----------------12----------------------|
G|-------------13-------------------------|
D|----------14----------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------|
E|-12h13h16-------------------------------|

Fig 5: (A whole tone)

e|-------------16/18h20h(21)b(23)~--------|
B|----------------------------------------|
G|-------14/18----------------------------|
D|----13----------------------------------|
A|-12-------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------|
E-mail me if you have any questions about this stuff or anything else guitar related.
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