On our way to shred awesomeness, we run a lot of scales. From Aeolian and Dorian to Diminished and Melodic Minor, a lot of study goes into being the best we can be. However, it also takes a lot of work to continuously expand our playing and come up with fresh ideas. After a while it gets pretty boring simply going up and down the same scale patterns. This is when string skipping can liven up your playing and enable you to look at the fretboard in a new light.
Example 1 is a typical three note per string scale run in A major. Being a short run, it is a good phrase to start with and contrast against the uniqueness of string skipping.
Let’s unleash string skipping now and turn this into something a little more interesting with example 2.
As you can hear, string skipping breaks up the contour of a line so that it isn’t so straight up and down the scale. Having a more unpredictable contour results in drastically more interesting lines. Let’s ramp this idea up a bit by traversing all six strings. Once again, Example 3 shows a typical three note per string approach.
By introducing string skipping in example 4, this line receives huge benefit. Just look at the jaggedness in the line below compared to the one above. This results in much more exciting listening.
You can even spice up your tired sequences by injecting them into a string skipping passage. Notice how this four note shredder standby comes to life with the inclusion of skipping in Example 5. I placed a pull-off in beat one to show that strict alternate picking is not a necessity. Experiment with what works for you.
Many players, myself included, love to connect the top two strings of three note per string scale patterns. String skipping can also revive these ideas and keep them from becoming repetitive. Let’s change keys to C Major and listen to what happens when strings 1 and 3 are connected, completely omitting the second string. Wrapping things up for now, Example 6 is a very unexpected and pleasant twist on a standard idea.
Once you have these examples under your fingers, you’re well on your way to string skipping mastery. Practice up and be sure you’re ready for Part 2 where we’ll turn up the intensity even more and have you lighting your fretboard on fire.