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Beginner Guitar Lesson 30 - Double Stops

Now in our last lesson, you embellished chords. Today, let's look at another method that can spice up your playing… double stops. This method involves playing two notes simultaneously, hence the name “double stop.”

Technically a double stop is not a chord, because a chord is by definition always built upon at least three notes, usually the 1st (root), 3rd & 5th. In blues we add the 7th, and in more advanced harmonies, we can add 9th’s, 11th’s, 13th’s, and alter chords by raising or lowering the 5th. The possibilities are vast!

A double stop can be any two notes played simultaneously, but in today’s lesson we’re going to focus on using notes from the pentatonic and blues scales only, using adjacent strings.

Our aim is to play down and up the pentatonic scale in double stops.

1.We’re going to start on the B and high E string and play the 3rd fret on both, picking down across both strings.

2.Next we’re going to play the same two strings open on an up stroke from the plectrum. Repeat this process very slowly and focus on getting a clean sound, with both notes achieving an even volume.

3.Now, move on to the G and B strings, voicing the 2nd fret on the G string and the third fret on the B string at the same instance. Again on a down pick, you must play the notes cleanly and evenly.

4.Next on the up pick, you will play those two strings open. When doing this, be careful not to pick any of the other strings!

5.Ok, now we are going to play the 2nd fret of the D and G strings simultaneously, again on a down pick, and then the same strings open, on an up pick.

6. Follow the steps above, except on the A and D strings.

7. Voice the 3rd fret of the low E and the 2nd fret of the A simultaneously, on a down pick. Then play both the E and A strings open on an up pick.

To play up the scale in double stops, we just need to reverse the process starting with the open E and A strings. See the notation and TAB below.



This method is very useful in filling out rhythm guitar parts & is also often used in solos. The beauty of the pentatonic scale is that it sounds cool anywhere. You can play any chord in the key of E and use any combination of double stops from the pentatonic scale, and it will sound right!

In addition to practicing this methodically up and down using your metronome (starting at 80 and increasing tempo as usual to as fast as you can go) also try to do your own thing with it. Use our blues background track for "No Shoes Blues" and improvise with this and any of the other concepts you've learned during this course. 

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