String skipping

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String skipping is a guitar-playing technique that is used mainly for solos and complex riffs in rock and heavy metal songs.


Explanation of technique

String skipping is a method of achieving a guitar sound that is different from more traditional solo riff styles. In more traditional styles, the guitarist will often play several notes on one string, then move to the adjacent one, improvising on the fretboard in a melodically linear manner. In string skipping (as the name implies), a string is often skipped during the riff. Essentially, this technique is used to introduce larger intervals than are usually common in guitar melodies, thereby creating melodic interest.

Example of "traditional" solo riff style

     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 e|-|-------------3---|---------------2-|-----------3-2---|-----------------|  B|-|---------3-5---3-|-------------3---|---------------5-|-5---------------| G|4|---2-4-5---------|-----------4-----|---------------^^^^^HOLD-----------| D|4|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------| A|-|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------| E|-|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------| 

Example of string skipping style

---------------|--------------7--| ------------5--|------7^8--10----| ---------2-----|-----------------| ---------------|----9------------| ------3--------|-5---------------| ---------------|-----------------| 

Notice that not every note played represents a string-skip; it is usually the case that string skipping is interwoven with traditional adjacent riffing. Playing the above example, one can hear the difference; the string skipping makes the solo stand out.

One example of string skipping involves string bending on the 7th fret of the G string, then jumping to the 8th fret of the E string (skipping the B string). Another way to achieve the desired aesthetic is when playing a thrash riff while chugging open E's, to pick strings E, B, G, or D to play extra notes in the riff.

Songs and instrumentals featuring string skipping

One of the most famous examples of string skipping is the intro riff to "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses: the fifth and seventh notes of each arpeggio are played on the top string, while the sixth and eighth notes are on the 3rd string. Guitarist Shawn Lane utilized string skipping throughout the instrumental pieces "Get You Back" and "Not Again", among others on the Powers of Ten album. [1] [2]

Another specific example of string skipping can be heard in the instrumental piece "Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson, during the intro (measures 6 and 7). [3] Johnson, who has built his guitar style "combining the music of many influences with his own ideas" [4] has said that string skipping is an important part of his soloing. [4] Johnson refers to executing "wider intervals" with the method, and also says with skipping, you're sometimes "replacing certain notes into another octave." He mentions it "gets a little more interesting" when the guitarist comes across a note normally fretted, that can be replaced with the open string version (played instead on a "skipped" string). [4]

Guitarist Paul Gilbert (of Mr. Big, Racer X, and G3) often employs string skipping. [5] A video example of string skipping is provided below in the external links.

Related Research Articles

Electric guitar Electrical string instrument

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound can be shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities, making it quite different from an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and "overdrive"; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.

Jazz guitar Jazz instrument and associated playing style

The term jazz guitar may refer to either a type of electric guitar or to the variety of guitar playing styles used in the various genres which are commonly termed "jazz". The jazz-type guitar was born as a result of using electric amplification to increase the volume of conventional acoustic guitars.

Rhythm guitar Guitar used to provide rhythm

In music performances, rhythm guitar is a technique and role that performs a combination of two functions: to provide all or part of the rhythmic pulse in conjunction with other instruments from the rhythm section ; and to provide all or part of the harmony, i.e. the chords from a song's chord progression, where a chord is a group of notes played together. Therefore, the basic technique of rhythm guitar is to hold down a series of chords with the fretting hand while strumming or fingerpicking rhythmically with the other hand. More developed rhythm techniques include arpeggios, damping, riffs, chord solos, and complex strums.

Sweep picking

Sweep picking is a guitar playing technique. When sweep picking, the guitarist plays single notes on consecutive strings with a 'sweeping' motion of the pick, while using the fretting hand to produce a specific series of notes that are fast and fluid in sound. Both hands essentially perform an integral motion in unison to achieve the desired effect.

Power chord

A power chordPlay  is a colloquial name for a chord in guitar music, especially electric guitar, that consists of the root note and the fifth, as well as possibly octaves of those notes. Power chords are commonly played on amplified guitars, especially on electric guitar with intentionally added distortion or overdrive effects. Power chords are a key element of many styles of rock, especially heavy metal and punk rock.

Bassline Low-pitched instrumental part

A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard.

Lead guitar, also known as solo guitar, is a musical part for a guitar in which the guitarist plays melody lines, instrumental fill passages, guitar solos, and occasionally, some riffs within a song structure. The lead is the featured guitar, which usually plays single-note-based lines or double-stops. In rock, heavy metal, blues, jazz, punk, fusion, some pop, and other music styles, lead guitar lines are usually supported by a second guitarist who plays rhythm guitar, which consists of accompaniment chords and riffs.

Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane was an American musician who released two studio albums and collaborated with a variety of musicians including Ringo Starr, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reggie Young, Joe Walsh, Jonas Hellborg and many others. After studying the piano, he mastered the guitar, which he played with exceptional speed.

Fingerstyle guitar

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

Barre chord "very rare chord" involving "the barring of a couple of strings with the first finger [diagonally] on different frets."

In music, a barre chord is a type of chord on a guitar or other stringed instrument played by using one or more fingers to press down multiple strings across a single fret of the fingerboard.

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string to highest-pitched.

Shred guitar Virtuoso lead guitar solo playing style

Shred guitar or shredding is a virtuoso lead guitar solo playing style for the guitar, based on various advanced and complex playing techniques, particularly rapid passages and advanced performance effects. Shred guitar includes "fast alternate picking, sweep-picked arpeggios, diminished and harmonic scales, finger-tapping and whammy-bar abuse", It is commonly used in heavy metal guitar playing, where it is includes rapid tapping solos, fast scale and arpeggio runs and special effects such as whammy bar "dive bombs". Metal guitarists playing in a "shred" style use the electric guitar with a guitar amplifier and a range of electronic effects such as distortion, which create a more sustained guitar tone and facilitate guitar feedback effects.

The Keith style of playing the 5-string banjo emphasizes the melody of the song. Also known as the "Melodic" or "Chromatic style", it was first developed and popularized independently by Bobby Thompson and Bill Keith in the early 1960s. It is used primarily by bluegrass banjoists, though it can be applied to virtually any genre. Most banjoists who play Keith style do not use it exclusively, but integrate it as one aspect of their playing, a way of adding spice to the more common 3-finger style of Earl Scruggs.

Economy picking is a guitar picking technique designed to maximize picking efficiency by combining alternate picking and sweep picking; it may also incorporate the use of legato in the middle of alternate picking passages as way to achieve higher speed with less pick strokes. Specifically:

Rusty Cooley is an American guitarist, known for his highly refined guitar technique. He is regarded as one of the fastest guitarists in the United States and a master of the shredding technique of guitar. Guitar Player magazine called him "the leading light of the post-Malmsteen shred-volution."

Classical guitar technique

In classical guitar, the right hand is developed in such a way that it can sustain two, three, and four voice harmonies while also paying special attention to tone production. The index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers are generally used to play the melody, while the thumb (p) accompanies in the bass register adding harmony, and produces a comparable texture and effect to that of the piano. The classical guitar is a solo polyphonic instrument, and it is difficult to master.

Chuck Wayne

Chuck Wayne was a jazz guitarist. He came to prominence in the 1940s, and was among the earliest jazz guitarists to play in the bebop style. Wayne was a member of Woody Herman's First Herd, the first guitarist in the George Shearing quintet, and Tony Bennett's music director and accompanist. He developed a systematic method for playing jazz guitar.

Guitar picking

Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:

Heavy metal guitar

Heavy metal guitar is the use of highly-amplified electric guitar in heavy metal. Heavy metal guitar playing is rooted in the guitar playing styles developed in 1960s-era blues rock and psychedelic rock, and it uses a massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos and overall loudness. The electric guitar and the sonic power that it projects through amplification has historically been the key element in heavy metal. The heavy metal guitar sound comes from a combined use of high volumes and heavy distortion.


  1. Shawn Lane - "Get You Back" lesson clip
  2. Shawn Lane - "Not Again" lesson clip
  3. Ah Via Musicom, Full score. ISBN   0-7935-9259-3
  4. 1 2 3 Johnson, Eric (2006). Eric Johnson: The Fine Art of Guitar (DVD ed.). Hot Licks. ASIN: B000EBGEQ4.
  5. Gilbert, Paul. Paul Gilbert – Intense Rock: Complete (DVD ed.). Alfred. ISBN   0-7390-4037-5.