...with a pick

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

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.

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