Creating new licks and sequences using string skipping, barring, and hammer-ons from nowhere.

After covering various techniques and approaches over the past few columns, I figure it might be fun to combine some of these ideas to create new licks and sequences. In the following examples, I’ll combine string skipping, barring, and hammer-ons from nowhere.


Fig. 1
involves the use of a diminished arpeggio sequence that merges all three of the above concepts. The combination of big interval jumps generated by string skipping and the hyper-speed possibilities provided by the barre, creates the potential for an insane-sounding result.

To play these examples, I recommend hybrid picking (plucking strings with one or more of the available picking-hand fingers in addition to the pick), as it makes it easier for you to execute these ideas and make them sound tighter.


Fig. 2 is a long melodic exercise that also combines barring and string skipping. In this example, we’re outlining a classic chord progression in the key of D major using major and minor triad arpeggios. This passage is designed with a triplet feel and alternates between two very distinctive 12-note sequences.

The arpeggiated F# minor triad involves a huge stretch between the 10th and 16th frets. If you find this physically impossible, simply change the F# (16th fret, 4th string) to E (14th fret, 4th string). It will no longer be a genuine arpeggio, but it will still sound great. The overall concept is much more important than the actual notes.

Combining these techniques yields many possibilities, so I recommend experimenting on your own. You may be surprised with what you discover.


Greg Howe has enjoyed a successful recording career since bursting onto the scene in 1988. His talents have been sought out by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Enrique Iglesias.

Need to buy a new bass? Start here.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less
x