5 Ways To Play String Skipping Faster & Cleaner On Guitar

by Tom Hess

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At a recent HESSFEST event, a guitar player asked me:

“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.

What should I do?”

So, I asked him to demonstrate how he practiced string skipping 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 picking hand.

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 faster and cleaner:

String Skipping Practice Tip #1: Optimize Your Picking Hand Motions

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No doubt about it:

The smaller you can make your picking motions – the easier it is to pick fast on guitar. (This is true with every guitar technique).

The caveat?

Don’t make your picking motions so small that you sacrifice articulation (more about articulation below).

Watch this video to see how quickly your speed improves when you make your picking motions 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 Practice Tip #2:  Get your hands in sync

Most guitar players already move their hands plenty fast.

What holds them back the most is…

… lack of 2-hand synchronization at higher speeds.

This means:

The speed at which they play with both hands in sync (their “useable” speed) is much slower than the speed of each hand moving in isolation (“potential” speed).

And the gap between usable speed and potential 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):

Guitar practice strategies

String Skipping Practice Tip #3: Use directional picking

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 speed with less effort:

String Skipping Practice Tip #4: Relax Excess Muscle Tension

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.

The result?

You make more mistakes and become more frustrated.

How do you relax excess muscle tension?

Watch this video to find out:

String Skipping Practice Tip #5: Develop A Stronger Picking Attack

The better your pick attack – the tighter your 2-hand synchronization. The tighter your synchronization, the faster & cleaner your playing sounds.

Good news:

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 effort

Watch this video to see how it’s done:

You now know the best ways to make your string skipping faster & cleaner. Want to get even more help with your picking technique & speed? Download my free eGuide: How To Build Lightning Fast Guitar Picking Speed and discover speed picking secrets most guitarists never know.

Tom HessAbout 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.

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