While a vast majority of guitar solos – in any style – often involve lines that move in relatively small intervals (the distance between two notes), using phrases with large interval leaps can be a nice way to add interest and spice to your solos. One of the ways to execute wide intervals on the guitar is by skipping over strings – instead of playing two consecutive strings in a row you jump over one or more. While there are different ways to do this (using only down strokes, hybrid picking, etc), in a shred/metal context the most common and efficient way is string skipping via alternate picking.


Funnily enough, the first exercise doesn’t actually involve any string skipping. The point though is to get used to alternate picking between two adjacent strings – perfecting this is the key to mastering string skipping. Start on the first string with a down stroke, followed by an upstroke on the second string. Continue this keeping your pick as close to the strings as possible. This is a pedal-point (repeated note) lick using notes from D Natural minor. Plant your first finger on the second string A note and bar it when you play the first string D.

Hear Exercise 1


This is exactly the same as the first lick only this time you anchor your first finger on the third string F note. So now you’ll be picking the first and third strings and skipping over the second. The picking technique will stay basically the same as the first exercise – constant down/up. If you slowed it down, your pick would be lifting slightly to jump over the second string, but it should just be a miniscule amount. The basic right hand movement should still be straight up and down.

Hear Exercise 2


This lick uses four of the five notes from a minor pentatonic scale, but after each note is played it’s repeated an octave below. The end result means you pick strings one-three, two-four and three-six. I’ve doubled it up here for fluidity. Start by learning the notes with your left hand using simple down strokes. Once your fretting hand is comfortable you can try using alternate picking. This lick is a good example of the angular, sometimes quirky sound string skipping like this can create.

Hear Exercise 3


The first three exercises should help you get a pretty good handle on the technique. To really get it nailed, check out exercise 4. It’s a pedal-point lick like the first two exercises, only here it continues through a D minor arpeggio all the way to the sixth string. So you move from strings one-two, one-three, one-four, one-five and finally one-six! This is then reversed to practice skipping in ascending fashion. Accuracy will be the hardest thing here, so I suggest using the fingers of your fretting hand to mute the strings in-between the ones you are playing. That way, if you do accidently pick the wrong one at least you won’t get a horrendous open string ‘clang’.

Hear Exercise 4


The previous licks used string skipping by playing one note on each string, but you can also skip strings using more fluid scale based lines. This three note-per-string lick circles down and up using notes from D natural minor on strings one and three. It also involves some large position shifts to further add to the wide interval madness!

Hear Exercise 5

Hopefully these exercises will help you to get your string skipping down. Build the speed up slowly and you’ll be skipping over strings in no time.