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Rick Graham - Guitar Roadmaps Part 7: Pentatonic Double Stops

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 8 **

Let's continue our exploration of the humble but remarkable minor Pentatonic scale! In this guitar lesson I'd like to focus our attention on how to play double stops within our guitar licks and solos. If you haven't heard of this term before don't worry as it is nothing complicated. All it means is that we fret or 'stop' two strings at the same time.  Personally, I've always loved the use of double stops within a guitar solo as, for me, it adds a different musical element to a guitar lick or phrase, often adding a lot of colour and interest, when used creatively of course.

Using our good old friend the minor pentatonic scale we can get to grips with some great sounding double stops simply by manipulating the scale shape. As it is a two note per string scale, we can take pairs of strings on either side of our box shape 1st position. What we end up with is a succession of 4th and 3rd intervals as we ascend through the scale. These can sound really nice if used sparingly within a solo and notice that they have a distinct Oriental sound. By approaching double stops in this fashion, we still have a clear mental picture of the scale upon which we are building them which can make life a whole lot easier. Once you have practised the double stops taken from our 1st position minor pentatonic, we can then proceed to play the double stops built upon the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th positions. If you know you pentatonic positions back to front, as I'm sure you all do (nudge, nudge!) you'll find it very easy to whiz through all of the double stops available using the minor pentatonic. Very useful indeed.

We can take these double stops a step further by staying within the confines of the Pentatonic framework but playing the double stops in a staggered fashion i.e. one note at a time. So, taking the first double stop at fret 5 of the low E and A strings, all we have to do is play the low E string first followed by the A string. I use hybrid picking technique to achieve this but feel free to use any picking technique you wish to. Again, we can practice this by advancing through the Pentatonic positions.

Taking it even further still, we can take the notes of the first double stop and play them on the low E string only, playing fret 5 and fret 10 followed by a regular double stop on fret 8 of the low E and 7 of the A. Of course if we do this the first 2 notes are not technically double stops but we are using the idea of double stops and taking it into more creative territory, which is great in my book!

Try experimenting as much as you can with these ideas as they can yield some very interesting results which will, hopefully, add more colours to your musical palette.

Hope you've enjoyed this and I'll catch up with you next issue!

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