Double stops are a nice technique to add to your lead guitar repetoire.
They're pretty simple - where you play two notes/strings together.
Another name for them is diads
- two notes
played simultaneously, whereas chords
are 3 or more notes played at the same time.
lesson will show you some double stop fingerings and exercises to get
fingers used to the physical application of playing two notes at the
There's no hard and fast rule about
stops should be used. They are simply used to complement
standard, single string lead phrases to add a bit of colour and
variation to solos and rhythm playing.
However, just as much of your standard phrases will
draw notes from a given scale, so too must your double stops reside
within a scale and/or key to ensure the notes don't clash with the
backing music (unless, of course, you want them to clash!).
Guitar double stops - the barre technique
You'll hear double stops being used in music all the time, and they
play an important part in general soloing technique. If you listen to
Chuck Berry, he arguably popularised the use of double stop riffs.
Let's first get our fingers involved in the physical application
playing two notes together, starting with the barre technique. Look at
the diagram below...
you can see, both the B and G strings are marked. To fret these two
strings together and create the double stop, we could simply use either
our index (1st) and middle (2nd) fingers or middle and ring (3rd)
However, it's often more efficient to use the barre technique
with one of our fingers for reasons I'll come to in a minute. That
means pressing one of your fingers (in
this example, our index/1st finger) flat across the two strings as
So it's similar to what we
do with barre chords - instead of the finger
we use the
fingers, just below the tips, to depress more than one
You can play this example at any fret, but if we were at the 5th fret,
it should sound like this.
we're going to use our 3rd/ring finger to apply the same two
string double stop two frets higher as follows...
Played one after the other, it could sound something like this. A commonly
sequence in blues, funk and rock as part of a minor pentatonic based
best thing about using this barre technique is that it's like you're
one string. The
two strings will play and move as a single unit and
should be able to
apply all the lead techniques you would to single strings -
vibrato, hammer-on/pull off, slide etc.
Other guitar double stop fingerings
Obviously these two-string formations can vary in their positioning on
the fretboard. They don't always involve the use of a barred finger.
For example, we might use the following double stop formations (I'm
using the top 2 strings in these examples but they can apply to any two strings)...
It's important to get all your fingers involved so that you can apply
your ideas freely, without any physical constraint.
There are also double stop formations that involve a "skipped string"
you're using a plectrum with these skipped string double stops, you'll
need to somehow mute the
string inbetween. The easiest way to do this is to relax back your
finger and touch the skipped string, effectively
You can then "strum" across the two fretted strings without unwanted
notes being hit.
Simple double stop exercises
Before we delve into the theory behind choosing the right double stop
patterns for your solo, try the below exercises to help set in that
muscle memory. They make use of several of the formations we've looked
at in this lesson.
Simply down pick or finger pick each pair of notes simultaneously in