IN THE WOODSHED

In­spire new melodic ideas by hop­ping, skip­ping and jump­ing over your strings. Rockschool’s Char­lie Grif­fiths shows the way.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths ex­plains how play­ers like Eric John­son and oth­ers cre­ate long in­ter­val leaps with the use of string skip­ping.

String skip­ping is a great ap­proach for in­spir­ing dif­fer­ent melodic ideas. Skip­ping over strings pro­vides wide in­ter­val jumps which can sound more ex­cit­ing than just play­ing up and down a scale.

Our first two ex­am­ples are on the more tech­ni­cal side, de­signed to de­velop the hand move­ments re­quired for string hop­ping. We have Pen­ta­tonic based, two-notes-per-string pat­terns which start on ad­ja­cent strings and grad­u­ally be­come wider apart. First fo­cus on your fret­ting hand to make sure the notes are fret­ting cleanly and ac­cu­rately. When string skip­ping, the aim is to make your fin­gers do the work rather than mov­ing the hand it­self too much. Start with ham­mer-ons and try pull-offs too. Feel free to ex­per­i­ment and chal­lenge your fin­gers to move up and down in dif­fer­ent ways.

Some ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with the Pen­ta­tonic scale will soon have you dis­cov­er­ing some Eric John­son and Carl Ver­heyen style sounds.

Once you are com­fort­able with the fret­ting side of things, we can fo­cus on the pick­ing hand. Use the very tip of the pick to strike each string so as to keep the hand feel­ing light and loose. If you dig in too much, you are more likely to get caught up in the strings, or hit the wrong one en­tirely. You should be able to glide over all of the strings by mov­ing your hand mainly from the wrist. Keep the heel of your hand planted on the bridge as an an­chor point around which the hand can move. This is usu­ally more sta­ble and ac­cu­rate than a free-float­ing hand.

An­other way to ar­tic­u­late big jumps be­tween strings is the use of hy­brid pick­ing, which gen­er­ally means pick­ing the bass strings with the pick and the tre­ble strings with the sec­ond, third or fourth fin­gers of the pick­ing hand. Ex­am­ple 4 is a Tosin Abasi style riff us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ham­mer-ons and hy­brid pick­ing in a rhyth­mic five-note pat­tern.

The fi­nal ex­am­ple is a big gui­tar, key­board uni­son sec­tion rem­i­nis­cent of John Petrucci or Paul Gil­bert. This will chal­lenge both of your hands as there are a lot of po­si­tion shifts and string skips. Syn­chro­nise your two hands by fo­cus­ing on the down­beats and mak­ing sure your fin­ger and pick hit the string at ex­actly the same time. If you keep mov­ing your pick­ing hand down and up in con­stant 16th notes, th­ese down­beats will al­ways co­in­cide with down­strokes. When you grad­u­ally speed up the piece, th­ese down­beats will act as an­chor points which will help keep ev­ery­thing in time and on track, no mat­ter how com­plex it may seem.

NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at how we can de­velop longer fret­ting-hand stretches

when string skip­ping the ai m is to make your fing ers do the work rat her than mov­ing the han d too much

Eric John­son uses string skip­ping in so­los and melodies

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