picking lesson, we learned the basics of using alternate
arpeggiate chords - playing the notes/strings separately rather than
simultaneously (as with strumming).
This lesson is about the next
logical step - string skipping, and separating those chord tones out in
a more layered, interesting way. We'll also touch on some funky
alternative picking rhythms later on.
is string skipping?
Exactly what it says! It simply involves
missing or "jumping over" strings in a
picking sequence where you might usually just play the strings
consecutively, from low to high (or vice-versa). What this does is
more dynamic and intricate rhythms and melodies, as you're jumping
between high and low tones from the chord you're picking.
common lead guitar technique, but to keep within the context
this series, we'll just focus on applying string skipping to chord
playing, for now.
OK, let's get started... (don't forget your metronome!)
string skipping chord patterns
Let's start really simple, using the open A major chord. You know the
the last part, we would have simply played from the root string
string) up to the high E string in sequence, and back down again:
in that sequence, the skip between the root A
string and B string is 3
strings "wide", as is the skip between the high E string and D string.
This isn't all about randomly
choosing picking distances. When you
come to learn how chords are constructed, you'll want to identify and
highlight particular tones of the chord you're playing before you
your picking pattern. This lesson is just to get you physically used to
Finally, we could also try a "rolling pattern", where there's more
emphasis on a constant direction. In this case, downward...
Before we move on to changing chord whilst picking...
coming up with your own picking sequences, it's important to analyse
the chords you're playing individually. Analyse the notes/strings that
make up the chord, how they relate to one another, and build up layers
within that chord to create an expression you like.
below I'm picking an open Em9
chord, which has a very rich and
immersive quality. Now, I can exploit this quality by arranging my
picking sequence so it highlights certain note relationships
(intervals, essentially) within
Let's build up the layers based on 4 pick strokes at a time. Remember,
the below letters are in reference to the strings...
like the effect of the G and D string played one after the other
(that's the minor 3rd and 9th tones of the chord - don't worry
you're not sure what that means, it's all covered in the chord
theory lessons but not
essential to know for now).
just on its own, this layer loses the context of the E minor sound
(partly because it doesn't start with that strong bass E
but the main thing is that you're analysing how different parts of the
chord, the high and low tones, bring out these expressive note
here I've re-used the D and G string relationship that I liked from
earlier, but swapped it around to give it some freshness. It's fine to
repeat phrases in a given chord picking sequence, but inverting certain
phrases can give
it a new edge.
Also, that final note, the minor 3rd on the open
G string, I felt really complemented the return to the root E
(from which we start the sequence again).
Right, let's put it together into a cyclic sequence...
I like how the open G string is left to ring through to the next
Beautiful, and it's just one single chord! Naturally, you'll
learn to apply this technique through chord changes.
Chord change picking exercise
now try some chord changes using the different picking patterns we've
learned over the past two lessons. The idea is to mix them up so you
can create varied rhythms through the changes in your music.
created a jam track below using 4 chords (G major, C major, E minor and
D major). I really want you to
experiment with your own pick sequence ideas, and you'll know by now
that there are many different picking combinations/string skips you can
use for a given chord.
For reference, here are the basic chords the backing bass is built
However, I prefer to use modified versions of these chords to make it
more interesting (Gadd9, Cadd9#11, Em9, D7sus2):
So, the chord change sequence is in the following order: G, C, Em, D
you don't have to pick constantly throughout the piece. Try sequences
where you leave "gaps" in the picking rhythm to add another interesting
variation. For example, you could pick a few times and then leave the
final note in that sequence to ring out for a bit longer before the
chord changes - experiment!