Have you ever listened to a country song and wondered how guitarists create those unique sounds? It’s all in the technique, and one of the most valuable techniques to master is string skipping. String skipping is a crucial skill for country guitarists, allowing you to create complex and intricate sounds with ease. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of string skipping technique and teach you five essential country licks you can play using this technique. So, grab your guitar and let’s dive in!
What is String Skipping Technique?
String skipping is a guitar technique that involves skipping over one or more strings to create a unique and intricate sound. It is a popular technique used in a variety of genres, but it has become particularly popular in country music. The technique creates a twangy and melodic sound that is perfectly suited for the genre’s signature style. In this article, we will explore the basics of string skipping, why it is useful in country music, and provide you with five essential country licks that use this technique. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, you’ll be able to incorporate these licks into your playing and take your country guitar skills to the next level.
How to Play String Skipping?
String Skipping is a technique that involves playing non-adjacent strings on the guitar. This technique is widely used in country music, and it can add a lot of depth and complexity to your playing. To play string skipping, you need to follow a few steps:
Step 1: Start by practicing basic alternate picking on adjacent strings, such as E and A strings. Use a metronome to establish a steady rhythm.
Step 2: Once you’re comfortable with alternate picking, shift your focus to skipping a string. For instance, skip the D string and play notes on the G string, then skip the G string and play notes on the B string.
Step 3: Practice string skipping up and down the guitar neck to develop muscle memory. Try to keep your picking hand relaxed and use minimal motion.
Step 4: As you become more comfortable with string skipping, try to incorporate it into your playing style. Work on incorporating string skipping into simple scales and then into more complex arpeggios.
By mastering the string skipping technique, you can add a new dynamic to your country guitar playing. Using string skipping, you can create unique sounds and make your solos stand out. If you want to learn more about incorporating string skipping into your country guitar playing, check out the article “How to Incorporate String Skipping in Your Country Solos“. It provides excellent tips and techniques to help you take your string skipping game to the next level.
Why String Skipping is Useful for Country Music
String skipping is a crucial technique that can truly enhance your country guitar playing. Here are some reasons why:
- Creates a Unique Sound: String skipping technique can make your playing sound unique and stand out from other guitar players. It allows you to skip one or more strings and create new intervals which are not possible with conventional scales. This technique helps to add excitement and variety to your licks and solos.
- Enhances Speed: String skipping requires you to move your pick hand in a different pattern than you would while using alternate picking. It can help you play faster, smoother, and more accurately once you get the hang of it, which is important in country music where many licks are played at lightning speed.
- Allows for Arpeggio-Style Playing: Arpeggios sound great in country music and can add a smooth and flowing feeling to your playing. String skipping allows you to play arpeggios more efficiently and effortlessly. You can also blend the skipping technique with arpeggios in a myriad of ways to create chord progressions or add movement to your solos.
- Better Control Over Pick Hand: String skipping technique requires a great degree of control and precision over your pick hand. Incorporation of string skipping into your playing helps you to develop better hand control and in turn, enhances your overall guitar skills.
- Makes Fluid and Smooth Transitions: In country music, the ability to transition smoothly between notes and chords is very important. String skipping lets you jump over unnecessary strings and helps you make quick and clean transitions between the notes you want to hit. It can help eliminate awkward pauses or breaks in your playing and create a more fluid sound.
By mastering string skipping, you can expand your country guitar playing and add a new dimension to your music. If you want to refine your string skipping technique further, check out our article on Mastering String Skipping Exercises, Tips, and Techniques. You can also find a list of ten great country songs that incorporate string skipping in our article 10 Country Songs That Feature String Skipping.
5 Essential Country Licks Using String Skipping Technique
When it comes to playing country guitar, string skipping technique is a must-have in your arsenal. By incorporating string skipping into your playing, you can add new dimensions to your sound and create flashy, attention-grabbing licks that make your playing stand out. In this section, we’ll explore five essential country licks that utilize string skipping technique. These licks are sure to impress your audience and take your playing to the next level. So, grab your guitar and let’s get started! And if you need a refresher on string skipping, check out our guide to string skipping for country guitar.
Lick 1 – The Chicken Pickin’ Lick
One of the most popular licks in country music using string skipping technique is the Chicken Pickin’ Lick. This lick is often heard in the playing of country legend Brad Paisley and can add an exciting and twangy sound to your playing.
To play this lick, start with your pick resting on the G string at the 7th fret. Use an upstroke to pluck the string and quickly “skip” over the B string to pluck the high E string with a downstroke. Then, use an upstroke to pluck the D string at the 7th fret before “skipping” over the B string again and plucking the high E string with a downstroke. Finally, use an upstroke to pluck the B string at the 8th fret.
Here is a table to help visualize the picking pattern:
Take your time when learning this lick, as string skipping can be a bit tricky at first. But with practice, you’ll be able to seamlessly incorporate the Chicken Pickin’ Lick into your own country playing.
For more advanced string skipping country techniques, you can check out our article on Advanced String Skipping Country Arpeggios. Further, String Skipping vs. Alternate Picking in Country Music can help you understand why string skipping is so useful in country guitar playing.
Lick 2 – The Double Stop Lick
The Double Stop Lick is a staple in country music and is characterized by playing two notes at the same time. This lick is a great way to add some texture and depth to your playing.
To play the Double Stop Lick using string skipping technique, start by placing your first finger on the fifth fret of the high E string and your third finger on the seventh fret of the B string. Pluck both strings at the same time, then skip over the G string and place your first finger on the fifth fret of the D string while leaving your third finger on the seventh fret of the B string. Pluck both strings again, then skip over the A string and place your first finger on the fifth fret of the low E string and your third finger on the seventh fret of the D string. Pluck both strings once more to complete the lick.
This lick can be played in any key by shifting your hand position up or down the fretboard. For example, if you want to play the Double Stop Lick in the key of G, simply place your first finger on the third fret of the high E string and your third finger on the fifth fret of the B string to start.
For an example of how this lick can be used in a country song, check out “That Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins. During the opening riff, he uses the Double Stop Lick to create a catchy melody that sets the tone for the entire song.
Remember to use proper finger placement and pick each note cleanly in order to achieve the desired sound. Practice this lick slowly at first, then gradually increase your speed until you can play it smoothly and confidently.
Below is a table of the Double Stop Lick in the key of G:
Add this lick to your repertoire and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled country guitarist using the string skipping technique.
Lick 3 – The Sliding Sixth Lick
If you’re a fan of country music, you might have heard of the sliding sixth lick. This lick is a classic country music technique that has been used by mega stars like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. It’s a great way to add some flavor and emotion to your country guitar playing. Here’s how you can play it.
Step 1: Understand the Sixth Interval
The sliding sixth lick revolves around the sixth interval, which is just a fancy way of saying that you’re playing two notes that are six scale degrees apart. In the key of C, the sixth interval would be A and F, for example. This interval is what gives the sliding sixth lick its unique sound.
Step 2: Get Comfortable with String Skipping
Before you can play the sliding sixth lick, you’ll need to be comfortable with string skipping. This is a technique where you play non-adjacent strings in quick succession. The sliding sixth lick utilizes string skipping to create its signature sound.
Step 3: Play the Lick
To play the sliding sixth lick, follow these steps:
|1 (high E)||10||3 (ring finger)|
|3 (G)||9||1 (index finger)|
|1 (high E)||7||1 (index finger)|
|3 (G)||9||1 (index finger)|
|1 (high E)||5||1 (index finger)|
|3 (G)||7||1 (index finger)|
|1 (high E)||3||1 (index finger)|
|3 (G)||5||1 (index finger)|
Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the high E string (1st string). Then, skip over the B string and place your index finger on the 9th fret of the G string (3rd string). Pluck the high E string with your ring finger followed immediately by the G string with your index finger. This is the first part of the lick.
Next, skip over the B string again and place your index finger on the 7th fret of the high E string. Pluck the high E string with your index finger followed by the G string with your index finger again. This is the second part of the lick.
Repeat this pattern, moving down the fretboard. Each time, you’ll slide down the G string to create the sixth interval. Make sure to use your index finger for all the notes on the G string.
Step 4: Practice
As with all new techniques, practice is crucial. Start slow and work your way up to faster speeds. Focus on getting the string skipping and sliding down before worrying about speed.
Step 5: Apply it to Your Playing
Once you’re comfortable playing the sliding sixth lick, try incorporating it into your own playing. Use it to add some emotion to your solos or to create a unique riff. Experiment with different timings and rhythms to make it your own.
The sliding sixth lick is a useful technique to add to your country guitar playing arsenal. With some practice, you’ll be able to add it seamlessly to your solos and riffs.
Lick 4 – The Pedal Steel Lick
One of the most iconic sounds in country music is the pedal steel guitar. While the instrument itself is quite complex, you can mimic some of its melodic tendencies by using the string skipping technique.
The Pedal Steel Lick
This lick involves skipping strings as well as using hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a smooth, flowing melody. Start by placing your first finger on the 9th fret of the third string. Then, using your third finger, hammer-on to the 12th fret. Without picking the string again, use your fourth finger to fret the 12th fret on the second string. Then, pull-off with your third finger back to the 9th fret on the third string.
Next, pick the second string again while keeping your fourth finger fretting the 12th fret. Then, use your third finger to fret the 10th fret on the third string. Pick that string and then slide your third finger up to the 12th fret. Finally, pick the second string again with your fourth finger still fretting the 12th fret before ending on the 10th fret of the first string with your first finger.
This lick is a great way to incorporate pedal steel style into your playing and is sure to impress any country music aficionados. With proper technique and practice, you can easily master this lick and incorporate it into your arsenal of country licks.
Lick 5 – The Triplet Lick
Looking for a way to add some excitement to your country playing? Consider trying out the triplet lick, an essential technique for any country guitarist. This lick is all about playing three notes in quick succession, creating a fast and rhythmic sound that can add energy and flair to your playing.
To play the triplet lick, start by selecting a note on one string, and then skip over to another string to play two more notes in quick succession. This skipping technique is what gives the lick its distinctive sound, as the quick jumps between strings create a sense of urgency and excitement.
To help demonstrate how to play the triplet lick, here’s a breakdown of a popular variation that uses the G major pentatonic scale:
In this variation, we’re starting on the D note on the third string, second fret. From here, we skip up to the second string, first fret to play the B note, and then jump back down to the third string, fourth fret to play the G note. Then, we repeat the same pattern two more times to complete the lick.
Of course, this is just one variation of the triplet lick – there are many ways to incorporate this technique into your playing and make it your own. Experiment with different scales and variations, and see how you can use the triplet lick to add some extra energy and excitement to your country playing.
Tips for Mastering String Skipping
As with any new technique, mastering string skipping can take time and patience. But don’t be discouraged! By implementing some helpful tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to playing impressive country licks with ease. Here are some practical suggestions to take your string skipping game to the next level.
Practice Proper Technique
When it comes to playing guitar, proper technique is crucial for achieving a clean and polished sound. The same goes for string skipping technique in country music. Here are some tips on practicing proper technique to improve your string skipping skills:
- Hold your pick correctly: Make sure you’re holding your pick with your thumb and index finger, with the pointed end facing down towards the strings.
- Use your wrist: When you’re skipping strings, it’s important to use your wrist to create the motion, rather than just moving your fingers.
- Keep your picking hand relaxed: Tension in your picking hand can cause your sound to be sloppy and can ultimately lead to injury. Make sure to keep your hand and wrist relaxed while playing.
- Practice muting: To achieve a clean sound while string skipping, it’s important to practice muting the strings you’re skipping over with your fretting hand. This will prevent unwanted noise from disrupting your playing.
- Watch your accuracy: String skipping can be tricky, so it’s important to watch your accuracy carefully. Make sure you’re hitting the strings you intend to hit and not accidentally brushing other strings.
By practicing proper technique, you’ll not only be able to play country licks with more accuracy and finesse, but you’ll also be able to prevent injury and play more comfortably. Remember to take your time and be patient with yourself as you work on mastering this technique.
Start Slow and Gradually Increase Speed
When practicing string skipping, it can be tempting to immediately try to play at lightning-fast speeds. However, this can do more harm than good. It’s important to start slow and gradually increase speed over time. This will help build muscle memory and prevent injury.
- Begin with a slow tempo: It’s important to start with a slow tempo, focusing on accuracy and clean playing. This will help build a strong foundation.
- Gradually increase the speed: Once you have mastered playing at a slower tempo with accuracy and precision, you can then increase the tempo gradually. This will help your muscle memory adapt to the faster speeds and make it easier to transition to faster playing in the future.
- Practice consistently: Daily practice is key to improving your string skipping technique. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, consistent practice will keep your fingers moving and your muscle memory strong.
- Don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed: While it may be tempting to push yourself to play faster, it’s important not to sacrifice accuracy for speed. Focus on playing cleanly and accurately, and the speed will come naturally over time.
- Listen to your body: If you start to experience pain or discomfort while practicing, slow down and take a break. Your body needs time to rest and recover to prevent injury.
By starting slow and gradually increasing speed, you’ll be able to build a strong foundation for your string skipping technique and avoid injury. Consistency and accuracy will be your best friends on your journey to becoming a skilled country musician.
Use a Metronome
One of the most important tools for improving your timing and keeping a steady rhythm is to use a metronome. A metronome is a device that produces a constant, steady pulse at a set tempo. This can be incredibly helpful for practicing string skipping, as it will help you to develop a strong sense of timing.
Here are some tips for using a metronome effectively:
- Start Slow: When you first start using a metronome, set it to a slow tempo that you can comfortably play along with. This will help you to focus on your technique and ensure that you’re playing each note cleanly and accurately.
- Gradually Increase Speed: Once you feel comfortable playing at a slow tempo, gradually increase the tempo of the metronome. This will challenge you to play faster and with more accuracy.
- Don’t Rush: It’s important to remember that playing with a metronome is not a race. Focus on playing each note cleanly and accurately, and let the metronome guide you.
- Use Subdivisions: To really challenge yourself, try practicing with subdivisions. This means setting the metronome to a slower tempo and playing twice as many notes per beat. For example, if the metronome is set to 60 beats per minute, try playing sixteenth notes at 120 beats per minute.
- Experiment with Different Time Signatures: Most metronomes allow you to set the time signature, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different ones. This will help you to develop a better sense of rhythm and timing.
Remember, practicing with a metronome can be frustrating at times, but it’s an essential tool for improving your timing and developing your skills. Stick with it, and you’ll soon notice a big improvement in your playing.
Experiment with Different Rhythms and Timing
One of the most important aspects of mastering the string skipping technique is experimenting with different rhythms and timing. This is what will help you create unique and interesting country licks that will stand out. Here are some tips for experimenting with different rhythms and timing:
- Vary the note duration: Instead of playing all the notes with the same duration, try playing some longer notes and some shorter notes. This will create a more interesting rhythm and add variety to your playing.
- Try different time signatures: Most country music is played in 4/4 time, but don’t be afraid to try different time signatures. Experiment with 3/4, 6/8, or even 7/8 time to create different feels and rhythms.
- Play around with accents: Accents can add a lot of interest to your playing. Try accenting the first note of each beat, or accenting every other note to create a syncopated feel.
- Explore different tempos: Playing at different tempos can completely change the feel of a lick. Try playing the same lick at different speeds to see how it changes the overall feel.
- Mix up your picking pattern: Don’t always play the same picking pattern – this can make your playing sound repetitive. Try switching between alternate picking, economy picking, and even hybrid picking to create different rhythms and phrasing.
By experimenting with different rhythms and timing, you’ll be able to create your own unique style and stand out as a country musician. Don’t be afraid to try new things and mix up your playing – this is what will make your playing interesting and enjoyable to listen to.
Record Yourself Playing and Listen Back
One of the most important tips for mastering string skipping technique is to record yourself playing and listen back. This will not only help you identify areas that need improvement, but also give you a better understanding of how your playing sounds to others.
Here are some steps to follow:
- Set up a recording device such as a phone or computer
- Play through your chosen country licks using string skipping
- Listen back to the recording with a critical ear
- Identify any mistakes or areas that need improvement
- Make notes of what needs work and practice those sections
This process may seem tedious, but it is an essential step in becoming a better musician. By listening to your playing objectively, you can identify any flaws in your technique and work to correct them.
Here are some things to listen for:
- Timing and rhythm – are you playing in time with the beat and maintaining a consistent rhythm?
- Cleanliness – are your notes coming out cleanly or are you accidentally muting strings or hitting them too hard?
- Tone – are you getting the desired tone from your guitar or do you need to adjust your technique or equipment?
- Dynamics – are you playing with enough dynamics or is your playing too flat and lacking expression?
After you have identified areas that need improvement, practice those sections slowly and gradually increase speed. Once you have made progress, record yourself again and compare to your previous recording. Rinse and repeat until you reach the desired level of proficiency.
Recording yourself and listening back is a powerful tool for improving your playing and becoming a better musician. Don’t skip this step!
After learning and practicing the 5 essential country licks using string skipping technique, you should be well on your way to becoming a proficient country guitar player. These licks are great starting points for developing your own style and creativity.
Don’t forget to keep practicing and experimenting with different rhythms and timing to create your own unique sound. It’s also important to record yourself playing and listen back to identify areas where you can improve.
Remember, mastering string skipping technique takes time and dedication. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Keep pushing yourself and you’ll eventually see progress.
In conclusion, string skipping technique is an important tool for any country guitar player. It allows for unique and interesting sounds that can add depth and complexity to your playing. With practice and dedication, you can master these techniques and develop your own style that sets you apart from the rest. So what are you waiting for? Grab your guitar and start practicing those licks!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between string skipping and alternate picking?
String skipping involves skipping certain strings while playing a pattern, while alternate picking involves playing each string in a pattern using alternating up and down picking motions.
Why is string skipping useful for country music?
String skipping allows for unique and intricate licks that are commonly used in country music, such as the Chicken Pickin’ and Pedal Steel licks.
Can string skipping be used in other genres of music?
Absolutely, string skipping can be used in a variety of genres such as rock, blues, and metal.
Is string skipping technique difficult to learn?
Like any technique, it takes practice and patience to master, but it is definitely achievable with dedicated practice.
What is the most important tip for mastering string skipping?
Starting slow and gradually increasing speed is crucial for mastering string skipping technique.
How can I improve my string skipping rhythm and timing?
Experimenting with different rhythms and timing is key, and using a metronome can also greatly improve rhythm and timing.
What are some other country guitar techniques to learn?
Other important country guitar techniques include chicken pickin’, bending, and sliding.
What kind of guitar should I use for country music?
Any type of guitar can be used for country music, but a telecaster or other types of single-coil pickups are commonly used for their bright and twangy sound.
What are some common chords used in country music?
Some common chords used in country music include G, C, D, Am, and F.
Can I incorporate string skipping into my own unique style of playing?
Absolutely, incorporating string skipping into your own unique style of playing can lead to new and interesting sounds and licks.