IN ThE WOOD­ShED

Grab your pick and mas­ter the art of mov­ing from string to string with this plec­trum pun­ish­ing work­out. Char­lie Grif­fiths shows the way.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths com­bines two tech­niques - string skip­ping and al­ter­nate pick­ing - to cre­ate some amaz­ing sound­ing licks.

String skip­ping us­ing al­ter­nate pick­ing is a skill that will strengthen both your lead and rhythm playing. Mov­ing the pick cleanly from one string to the next is a rudi­men­tary skill that gui­tarists per­form ev­ery day, but play­ers like Steve Morse, John Petrucci, Al Di Me­ola, Kiko Loureiro and Paul Gil­bert have all made pick­ing into an art form. In this month’s trip to the wood­shed we will take in­spi­ra­tion from those mas­ters and putting the pick un­der the mi­cro­scope and push­ing our pick­ing to the lim­its of what the gui­tar will al­low. We will start small and sim­ple and build up to the more chal­leng­ing.

First, we will work on mov­ing be­tween two ad­ja­cent strings; we’ll then make things pro­gres­sively more chal­leng­ing by in­creas­ing the jump. Four out of the five ex­am­ples we have pre­pared for you in­volve jump­ing be­tween the first and sixth strings - the most ex­treme pick­ing ma­noeu­vre the gui­tar al­lows. You may not be us­ing a jump like this in your ev­ery­day playing, but giv­ing your hands an ex­tra chal­lenge like this can drill a tech­nique into your mus­cle mem­ory. It also has the ef­fect of break­ing down any psy­cho­log­i­cal walls you may have, and will of­ten make the sim­ple things seem even sim­pler. If you are a seven or eight-string player, you should ab­so­lutely ex­plore those bound­aries too.

Al­most all of our ex­am­ples are based around the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic shape 1, since you will prob­a­bly be very fa­mil­iar with the shape. Hope­fully, th­ese ex­er­cises will breathe some new like into old scale shapes and per­haps in­spire some new mu­si­cal ideas.

Try to keep your fore­arm still, rest it gen­tly on the gui­tar body and move your hand from the wrist. Ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent pick an­gles and hand po­si­tions un­til you find some­thing that is com­fort­able for the en­tire range of mo­tion.

Our first ex­am­ple acts as an in­tro­duc­tion to string skip­ping and is played one note per string so you be­come ac­cus­tomed to al­ter­nate pick­ing across strings. This means that the pick moves down and up con­sis­tently with­out in­ter­rup­tion. Some­times you will start a new string with a down­stroke and some­times with an up­stroke; both are equally im­por­tant to get com­fort­able with. Our ex­am­ples build on this idea with two-notes-per-string pat­terns and fi­nally three-notes-per-string.

Use a metronome to keep a steady tempo. As well as giv­ing your hands some­thing to lock onto, a click can fo­cus the mind and help you get into ‘prac­tice mode’ more eas­ily than prac­tis­ing un­ac­com­pa­nied, with­out any form of tempo as­sis­tance.

Prac­tise in dif­fer­ent parts of the neck us­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions of the scale, or a dif­fer­ent scale. Th­ese tech­niques can be ap­plied to any tonal­ity you can imag­ine, and you can al­ways test your skills by pick­ing out string-skipped notes from chords. Happy skip­ping!

A CLICK CAN FO­CUS THE MIND AND HELP YOU GET INTO ‘PRAC­TICE MODE’ MORE EAS­ILY THAN DO­ING IT UN­AC­COM­PA­NIED

You’ll be jump­ing strings a lot in in this ar­ti­cle

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