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Sizzling Simplicity - Part 3 (Open Strings)

by Mike Lindyn
www.GuitarKnowledgenet.com ©2004

Continuing our quest to find easy things that will amaze your listeners, I now turn your attention to those 6 open strings you have at the top of your guitar. Though they look innocent enough they are truly powerful. Use them wisely and they will serve you well. I have pulled together a few licks that use open strings below, use these to get an understanding of some ways to incorporate open stings into your playing.

The first two “leads” I ever learned on the guitar were the opening licks to Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years and The Ultra Violence by Death Angel. These two licks are almost identical both are in the key of E Minor and both are play entirely on the use the high E string. The first example we will look at is based off the same idea as the intros to the two songs listed above. It is changed of course. First off, it sounds nothing like either of these songs and the two songs above use the E string as a pedal hitting it more than one time each, in this example the open E is hit every other note, and I only hit it once. It’s also a little bit faster. But it is basically the same idea.

In this example I only pick the first note, after that all the notes are hammer ons and pull offs, the only thing my right hand does is make sure the other open strings are muted. The only thing that is hard about this example is that you have to a bunch of position shifts in a rather short amount of time, but you can get the hang of this with just a little practice.

The second example is another flashy open string lick that is very easy to play and can make you sound awesome. Hammer ons and pull offs can be great tools to use with open string licks. This entire example uses pull offs but you could pick the whole thing out just as well.

The 3rd example of this lesson shows how one open string can add a lot to a simple harmony. To see the difference this open string makes, play this example without the G and see how it sounds. It’s ok without the open string but much better with it added, and it’s no harder to play this way either.

For now, I'm sleepy... I think I'll just post this thing and go to bed. We'll talk more about open strings and continue the Sizzling Simplicity series soon.

Practice. Practice. Practice. There's a test next week. (Not really.)

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