String Skipping

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.

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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.

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    angus_young01
    That didn't give any theory... I was hoping to see ways of playing various scales, modes etc in a string skipping format, I would have foudn that more beneficial. But not bad, if you can though please put that into it, it'd be awesome then.
    TeenBite
    Well, this lesson shows you examples of string skipping, but doesn't show you HOW to string skip...
    stewth
    string skipping is a cool exersise. this is ok but could be better.
    SGwieldingman
    DEFINITELY want to listen to Paul Gilbert for string skipping. Also try some Eric Johnson.
    guitarguru4
    Someone mentioned Sweet Child O' Mine..That's an excellent example of string skipping, I recommend it if your bore of modes and shit.
    master of music
    maybe some examples of how you could incorparate that into your own playing and how to do it in different modes ETC.
    shred-it
    If you're into string skipping and the diminished scale try this in straight eighth notes E |--15--12--9---..| B |---..| G |*---..15--12--9---..| D |---..| A |*---..16--13-| E |---..| E |---..9--12---| B |---..| G |---..9--12--15---..*-| D |---..| A |-10--13--16---..*-| E |---..|
    leadg
    ok...it does explain string skipping and it shows solos where you should use it, but it doesnt really help teach how to string skip. If i read this right its not any different than economy picking
    Life Is Brutal
    Now that people say it, Sweet child of mine is a good string skipping example lol. Good lesson, but you still didn't entirely explain string skipping. Helped me alot though.
    Killswitch666
    So string skipping is exactly what I thought it was.. Okay.. Looks like I've already got this one boys! Time to start Michael Angelo's overhand/underhand techniques! Woot!
    HannibalX
    what is string skipping???
    eg. moving from the 3rd string to the 1st SKIPPING the 2nd while playing a lick/solo/riff/random notes
    MantlePicture
    TeenBite wrote: Well, this lesson shows you examples of string skipping, but doesn't show you HOW to string skip...
    Practice slowly with lots of distortion so string noise is obvious. Use the thumb on your picking hand to mute the lower strings. Don't play it faster than you can play it cleanly.
    Disturbinator
    well, this is a nice post.... but a little basic... just do chromatic where u skip 2 string or 3 strings and then this lesson is easy... another thing.... someone was talking about 15 frets.....its an acoustic guitar for heavens sake, dont worry mate... use the guitar as much as u can... transpose anything that is higher than 15. most acoustic guitars dont go higher than 15 without a cutaway... just use ur lower frets and then when u get an electric u can practise on the higher frets...
    7th
    Good technique, good examples, good job. I hate solos but I love this stuff.
    slashsnakepit15
    "This is bollocks. When would you ever need to use this? String skipping, you don't know what your chattin' about" dude u have no clue do you its like masterofmuppets said "solos" and some great intros **cough** Sweet child o' mine **cough** maybe you should post after you actually play a guitar
    jetman_james
    if you only have 15 frets then A:buy a new guitar; B:move the exercises that start at the 12th fret down to the nut and start with open strings in place of the 12th fret. they're the same notes a full octave down.
    josephde
    15th fret???!!! Holy SHIT! I couldnt stand that! I have a 7-string 24-fret washburn, and i use it all.
    MantlePicture
    Killswitch666 wrote: So string skipping is exactly what I thought it was.. Okay.. Looks like I've already got this one boys! Time to start Michael Angelo's overhand/underhand techniques! Woot!
    If you're just now learning what string skipping is, practicing that is a total waste of time. Master the basics before trying to show off. If your vibrato sucks, no one will care about how flashy you are.