Picking Hand Dexterity

Guitarists have three elements of technique to focus on. Right hand, Left hand, and the coordination between both.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

Guitarists have three elements of technique to focus on. Right hand, Left hand, and the coordination between both.

Today, we'll be looking at ways to push the picking hand to it's limits, and in this case, across strings.

Yes, Ladies and Gents, it's time to tackle string skipping.

In a world of over explained and redundant phrases, string skipping surely holds the crown for most self explanatory. String skipping is simply the ability to pick across non-adjacent strings in a disciplined manner. In plain English, this would translate to picking notes on strings that aren't next to each other. Extremely demanding on the picking hand, it offers unique and fascinating sounds to the guitarist who takes the time to master this essential technique.

In this lesson, as an extra, we'll also include picking on strings that are neighbors.

Without further ado, let's get started. Strict alternate picking is advised, as is the use of a metronome. If you don't have access to one of those gizmos, log on to www.metronomeonline.com and take advantage of their free metronome.

Example 1 provides a fine workout for the right hand. The left isn't excluded from the party, either! Based off an A Harmonic minor scale, this exercise presents the listener with an unusual sound.

Example 2 stays close to home, but still provides a fine run on the E and B strings. Plus, it has a slightly spooky sound, perfect around Halloween!

Example 3, based off the A Mixolydian mode, has a mellow, bluesy sound. Giving both hands a run for their money, it can also serve as a springboard to other licks in this position.

The examples presented in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to picking across strings. Applied properly, they will build right hand dexterity, and ultimately, artistic freedom. They should be practiced at a slow tempo at first, and always alternate picked with a metronome.

Have fun building your right hand chops! And don't forget to take a look at my blog.

I'll see you there!

Until next time, keep on rockin'.

Copyright 2008 Josh Urban - All Rights Reserved

Josh Urban (photo) is a musician with a unique perspective on music. Always a thinker, he gains insight wherever he can find it, be it in the clubs as a working musician, busking on the city streets, or teaching in the classroom. A naturally enthusiastic fellow, Josh is always fired up about bringing the lessons he's learned to his readers. Maintaining a website, a blog, and a monthly newsletter, he aims to make musicians stop, think, and play with a little more intensity, integrity, and inspiration. You never know who's listening.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MXNAD348
    the main riff in sweet child o' mine is a pretty good way to practice string skipping.
    red flare graf
    These are the types of exercises I've been looking for, thanks. I'm fine with fretting, but I suck at picking accuracy when I have to move across.
    Elohel
    Jhachey22 wrote: wanna get faster pick hand action? one word: MASTURBATE.
    But I'm a lefty playing right handed . Anyway, nice concise lesson. Didn't learn anything new, but it's well done.
    Dithindious
    Elohel wrote: Jhachey22 wrote: wanna get faster pick hand action? one word: MASTURBATE. But I'm a lefty playing right handed .
    You'll learn a new skill then :p Nice lesson mate Halloween one sounds awesome lol
    tacoma12
    for advanced players, i recommend against strictly alternate picking. I tend to pick in the direction of the next string to be played, especially when string skipping. As such, I would play example 1 as u, u, d, u, u, d, u, d... You will notice a difference more when you are really skipping around.
    martinbg
    tacoma12 I'm used to the same thing - picking with less motion. Is alternate picking actually faster than this method?
    Muppet
    I would focus more on picking in different patterns. These patterns push the mind to focus too much on the left hand.
    jort
    Mastodon - hearts alive., also good song for "skippin' ya string"
    tacoma12
    i agree with muppet. different progressions and scales will call for different picking patterns. style of play also makes a difference here (i.e. ska/reggae is predominantly up-picking). alternate picking is a great exercise, but i'm just throwing out other ways to increase dexterity. also, for novice players, it helps to root the pinky of your picking hand on the body of the guitar. this provides stability as you train muscle memory and get used to where the strings are.
    alex-led-zepp91
    metallica are prbz one of the best at string skippin plus the added speed adds a challenge so its a gud idea to check them out
    OP1UM
    cool article man. So does songs like roulette fall under string skipping?
    Seither2k
    I never comment on articles, but this one is pretty good. I love the exercises. Write more!
    the_extremist00
    nice you should throw the song "universal mind" by LTE as an example, thats the masterpiece of string skipping =P
    riziger
    i like all your articles and your blog. very helpful simple stuff.
    -metalhead-
    Jhachey22 wrote: wanna get faster pick hand action? one word: MASTURBATE.
    Dude, that was so ****in funny, and i do agree! XP
    Guitar_Poet
    the_extremist00 wrote: nice you should throw the song "universal mind" by LTE as an example, thats the masterpiece of string skipping =P
    yea, it is a great song for that, but i dont think it fits in with the idea of beginning string skipping though anyone who wants to understand the sound should listen to it =) nice article... my favorite part was that it was really short. i hate it when articles go on and on because i get bored and stop reading.
    strong_wizard
    Love how Paul Gilbert in one of his videos says something like "I don't like to focus on the picking hand, it's all about fretting for me", and then you see him do the most blistering triplets (blurred sound =/ ), string skips- anything. But at any rate, his fretting is top notch too
    irvy123
    I think the point to strict alternate picking is to make it *harder* for your right hand. Alt picking these exercises is much harder and will work on your right hand's dexterity. If you want to improve, challenge yourself, don't settle for easy.