...with a pick
Jon Bishop explains how you can sound instantly more impressive and sophisticated using a technique employed by rock’s elite!
This special and exclusive feature focuses on the art of string skipping with a pick. The aim is to develop your picking hand accuracy and also to provide you with some interesting new soloing concepts.
There are 10 four-bar examples to study, complete with a backing track to practise with. each example addresses a different aspect of string skipping and they all pose a particular picking challenge. The reference audio has been recorded at fairly easy-to-play tempos so you can hear what is going on and practise at sensible speeds. These tempos will be good target to begin with, since it’s always better to learn a technique thoroughly, at a workable tempo, than simply charging ahead before you’re ready; this can build in flaws that can be hard to rid yourself of later. Ultimately, of course, with practice you should be looking to exceed them.
each example gets steadily more tricky to play and will certainly stretch even the most accomplished picker - which is why beginning at a slower tempo is so important.
as an added extra there is a full-on jam solo, again with a corresponding backing track. The solo will help you to contextualise what we have worked on, and give you a chance to come up with your own ideas.
as inspiration for the exercise we have chosen some well-known guitarists who use string skipping to great effect. The idea is to learn the example and then practise it with a metronome every day. You can stretch yourself by increasing the tempo during the session and charting your progress over a series of days and weeks.
We have provided the harmonic context for each example so you can use the concepts in your soloing and improvisation. To keep things as simple as possible and allow us to concentrate on the various technical challenges, many of the examples use the c Major scale as a foundation: c-d-e-F-G-a-B.
if we harmonise the c Major scale in 3rds (meaning that we build a three-note chord starting on each of its intervals) the following chords are produced: c major, d minor, e minor, F major, G major, a minor, B minor b5. if we harmonise to the 7th degree (building four-note chords) they become: c major 7, d minor 7, e minor 7, F major 7, G major, a minor 7, B minor 7b5.
We can also use the following pentatonic scales as they are all created exclusively with the notes of the c Major scale and relate to the above chords. The scales are: c Major pentatonic, d Minor pentatonic, e Minor pentatonic, F Major pentatonic, G Major pentatonic and a Minor pentatonic.
While string skipping is not a technique you might use all the time, it’s a brilliant way to give a huge lift to a solo, or section of a solo. The fact that it allows you to play ear-catchingly large intervals makes it an impressive-sounding weapon to have in your sonic armoury too. have fun!
String skipping is a great way to create ear-grabbing ideas and also a surefire way to develop your picking hand facility.