Skip to main content

Master This String-Skipping Lick

(Image credit: Colin Behrens/Pixabay)

What better way to revamp this column than with a string-skipping, three-notes-per-string pentatonic lick? It involves only the first and third strings and some fortitude in your fretting hand. First we will demonstrate the shapes and then we’ll hear it in a musical context with a final thought on rhythm.

It’s basically three connecting shapes in the middle of the neck. Here’s how the pattern looks extended on the fingerboard:

(Image credit: Blake Scopino)

I add the sixth degree, C, because it gives the lick a more “open” quality at the end. It’s also helpful that the first and third shapes are exactly the same.

Next is a transcription of the way I like to play it using legato, slides and picked notes. I have chosen these subdivisions and groupings to illustrate the general rhythms I’m playing. However, it is up to each player to adapt this lick to their own personal sense of rhythm and their physiology.

(Image credit: Blake Scopino)

You can play the audio clip below to hear what it sounds like:

Now let’s see what this lick can do in a musical context. This clip features both slow and fast rhythms. You could say they are irregular or spasmodic, which is how many non-musical or emotional rhythms are in nature. This creates a much more interesting musical idea than just playing metrically precise notes.

Play the audio below to hear this lick in action:

The first rhythms we ever feel are in the womb, two heartbeats weaving together. Every player is born with a unique sense of rhythm that guides their musical tastes. You owe it to yourself and your audience to honor that!

Blake Scopino plays guitar in the band Lola Montez. To see if he can back up his big mouth, listen to his band here.