5 Ways To Play With Faster & Cleaner String Skipping Speed
by Tom Hess
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At a recent HESSFEST event, a guitar player asked me a common lead guitar speed question:
“Tom Hess, how can I increase my string skipping speed?
I tried all kinds of approaches and practiced many different exercises, but nothing seems to work. My string skipping suffers when I try to increase my guitar speed to much higher tempos. It sounds inconsistent.
What should I do?”
So, I asked him to demonstrate how he practiced increasing his string skipping speed at home.
And right away, I noticed 2 issue that keep most people from increasing their string skipping speed.
The first issue was simple:
He was not watching his hand to see his guitar picking motion.
As soon as I pointed this out, he quickly saw how this “simple” issue made it impossible to notice the 2nd (much larger) problem.
And that 2nd problem was making his string skipping WAAAAAY harder than it should be.
Watch the video to see what the mistake was and how I helped my student fix it in a few minutes:
Now that you know the basics, here are 5 of my favorite ways to make your string skipping speed licks sound great:
String Skipping Speed Practice Tip #1: Optimize Your Picking Hand Motions For Faster Guitar Speed
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The smaller you can make your guitar picking motion – the easier it is to pick fast on guitar. (This is true with every guitar technique).
Don’t make your picking motions so small that you sacrifice articulation (more about articulation below).
Watch this video to see how quickly your string skipping speed can improve when you make your guitar picking motion more efficient:
Extra tip: pay extra attention to the arc your pick makes when you skip strings. Make that motion as small as you can get away with.
String Skipping Speed Practice Tip #2: Synchronize Your Hands For Smooth Guitar Speed
Most guitar players already move their hands plenty fast.
What holds them back the most during string skipping is…
The speed at which they play with both hands in sync (their “useable” guitar speed) is much slower than the speed of each hand moving in isolation (“potential” guitar speed).
And the gap between usable guitar speed and potential guitar speed becomes much wider when you skip strings.
(That’s because it’s easier for your hands to get out of sync when your pick skips one or more strings.)
What is the solution?Practice the drills in the infographic below and watch how much easier your synchronization becomes (especially when you do string skipping):
String Skipping Speed Practice Tip #3: Use A Directional Guitar Picking Approach
Everybody knows a zig zag is the shortest distance between 2 points? Oh, wait…
You say: a straight line is shorter? Hmm…
Then you just explained a big reason why directional picking is superior to alternate picking.
And it’s one of many reasons why I teach directional picking to all my students. When you use directional picking, all your playing (especially string skipping) becomes easier, faster and cleaner.
Note: directional picking is NOT economy picking.Watch this video that explains directional picking in detail and shows you how to build your guitar speed with less effort:
String Skipping Speed Practice Tip #4: Relax Excess Muscle Tension For Effortless Guitar Speed
Excess muscle tension is a silent killer of your guitar speed – especially with string skipping. When your picking hand becomes tense, it becomes much harder to move your pick from string to string.
You make more mistakes and become more frustrated.
How do you relax excess muscle tension in your guitar picking techique?Watch this video to find out how to make your guitar picking speed sound smoother:
String Skipping Speed Practice Tip #5: Develop A Stronger Guitar Picking Attack
The better your pick attack – the tighter your 2-hand synchronization. The tighter your synchronization, the faster & cleaner your playing sounds.
You don’t need to pick the strings much harder to have a strong pick attack. The secret is in using more of the pick to hit the string.
This makes the notes louder with no extra effortWatch this video to see how it’s done:
You now know the best ways to make your string skipping sound great + your guitar speed faster & cleaner. Want to get even more help with smoother guitar picking technique & faster overall guitar speed? Download my free eGuide: How To Build Lightning Fast Guitar Picking Speed and discover speed picking secrets most guitarists never know.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.Learn something about string skipping? Learn more ways to improve your guitar picking with the best rock guitar instruction online.
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