Thanks for tuning in to another installment of Intense Guitar! I always appreciate feedback from readers, including column topic suggestions and questions. This month’s request comes from Greg Hampdon of Northridge, California. Greg wanted me to, “please show me some cool string skipping arpeggios!” You got it, Greg! This month I’ll show you some very cool string skipping ideas, as well as a simple way of approaching them.
Here is the general concept for executing these arpeggios. Example 1 is not a string skipping lick, per se, but an approach to its much more complicated brothers. It’s a lick in E minor/G major from the C Lydian mode. Use a downstroke to hit the first note, the E on the G string’s 9th fret. From here we are going to play an upstroke on the D note on the D string at the 12th fret. Then you will pull-off to the subsequent notes – the C and B on the same string. For the last note of the sequence, we will play an A on the A string at the 12th fret with a downstroke. Next we will ascend. As we ascend the lick, we’ll go back to the D string and play with an upstroke on the B. We then proceed to hammeron the following C and D on that same string at the 10th and 12th frets, respectively. From here we begin the lick over again by picking the E with a downstroke.
With that said, nothing is set in stone – try changing up the picking sequences. These are simply picking patterns that I (and the majority of my students) find comfortable. Thus, our picking pattern is as follows; downstroke, upstroke, pull-off, pull-off, downstroke (on the A string), upstroke, hammer-on, hammer-on, then repeat the pattern with a downstroke.
We could also “reverse” the picking pattern in this order; upstroke, downstroke, pull-off, pull-off, upstroke (on the A string), downstroke, hammer-on, hammer-on and then start the pattern over again with an upstroke. My suggestion is to practice both ways to reduce the possibility of any technical or physical limitations.
I’ve indicated my suggested fingerings on this month’s examples, but feel free to experiment with other fingerings and note choices. For example, we’ll approach fingering number 2 the same way, pickingwise, as fingering number 1, but in that example we’ll use it within a blues scale in the same key. Again, it’s the same picking concept, but look closely the fingerings.
After that, things get interesting. We are going to play an E major 6th arpeggio in a non-traditional way. Our picking hand pattern stays the same, but now we’re going to incorporate some actual string skipping and stretches for our fretting hand to fret over. Be careful not to overdo it – no one needs to develop tendinitis or carpel tunnel syndrome.
The notes in an E major 6th arpeggio are E, G#, B and C#. We won’t be playing the notes in this order in any of these arpeggios because we want to keep them from sounding clinical or like an arpeggio played straight up and down – that’s boring. Keep in mind the fact that you can play the same notes and they will still be considered an arpeggio. Since we’re running out of space, I’m going to leave you with these general picking patterns that can be applied to the remaining examples.
Good luck with this month’s topic and we’ll see you next month here in Intense Guitar. If you have a question or comment, contact me at Toshi@TOSHIISEDA.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or on MySpace at myspace.com/toshiiseda. As always, “Who dares wins!”
Toshi Iseda is an Alumnus of the prestigeous Berklee College of Music and the American Conservatory of Music. He has been featured in Guitar Player, Guitar World and Guitar/Guitar One Magazines, and is a former instructor at the National Guitar Workshop and former instructor at the American Institute of Guitar.