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How To Fix String Skipping Problems On Guitar

By Edited Apr 11, 2016 0 0

Handy exercise for picking non-adjacent strings on guitar.

As you know, skipping strings on guitar is super easy.  And if you have a problem with it, you're a loser.  Just kidding!  Every guitarist encounters problems with string skipping.  And with a little concerted effort, the freedom to makes lots of mistakes, and the handy techniques I'm going to give you, you'll be leaping over strings like Superman over buildings.

We're going to concentrate on single note melodies and right hand technique here.  If you're not sure what I mean by "string skipping", it simply means, say, picking a note on your first string then one on the third string.  It's playing notes on any pair of non-adjacent strings.  

1. Use a rest stroke.  A "rest stroke" means that you pick the note and let the pick come to rest on the next string.  Ie. Play your open third string with a downstroke and let the pick come to rest on the second string.  

This gives your picking hand a finite range of motion to work in which develops muscle memories that learn the distance between strings.  Once you're comfortable with it, you'll be more easily able to guage the distance between multiple strings.

2. Use an anchor.  Nope, not a 2-ton nautical device.  Though that might keep you in your chair to practice a little longer.  Anchoring your right hand means resting your right hand pinkie on the pickguard or body of your guitar (or top string if you're playing on the lower strings).  Again, this restricts the motion of your hand (in a good way) to a finite space on the guitar.  

A lot of people will disagree with me on this one.  And I know plenty of guitarists that don't use an anchor.  But I've seen it help lots of students not only learn string skipping, but clean up their picking hand in general.  

3. Practice with your eyes closed.  Now that you've laid the groundwork with the rest stroke and pinkie anchor, you can start to do some actual string skipping.  Keep in mind, you'll make a ton of mistakes here.  That's ok.  Let them go and try again.  You'll find that your hands learn and respond faster if you don't sweat the mistakes.

We'll use just the open strings for this exercise.  Close your eyes and start with the sixth string of your guitar.  Using your pinkie anchor and rest strokes, pick every other string: E D B.  Then start from the first string and pick every other string coming back down: E G A.

Keep it slow, make mistakes, and try again.

Then reverse the process. Start on the 2nd string and descend every other string.  Then start on the fifth string and ascend the same way.

Once you're comfortable with these, try jumping two strings from the bottom: E G, A B, D E.  Then the reverse from the top string: E D, B A, G E.  You can then, of course, try skipping 3 strings and so on.

Doing these exercise with your eyes closed does two things.  You'll learn to trust your hands rather than have to look at them all the time.  But also, when you close your eyes, your brain automatically shifts gears to focus more on your senses of hearing and touch (and smell, but I hope you don't need that here.)  Goofy "guitarist-in-pain" faces are optional here, but seem to go along with the eyes being closed.

Once you've got it down, do it with your eyes open, but don't look at your hands.  You don't need to now!

So string skipping on guitar is easy after all and you'll be a pro at it in no time by following these easy steps.



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