This guitar lesson shows you how to use double stop 3rds to inject some life into your rhythm guitar playing. Instead of sticking on the same chord position double stop 3rds will give you options to add more movement into the music by playing around within the current chord.
We'll start with a brief look at what double stop 3rds are and see how to play them on the guitar. Then we'll look at some example rhythm guitar riffs built with thirds so you can see how they fit around the chord positions you already know.
What Are Double Stop 3rds?
Double stop 3rds are pairs of notes from the major scale. For each note of the scale you create a pair by skipping one note up the scale and choosing the next note as its partner. Here are the thirds in the scale of C major created by skipping over one note on each degree of the scale.
C-E, D-F, E-G, F-A, G-B, A-C, B-D
Double Stop 3rds And The Major Key
Some of these thirds intervals are major (four half steps) and some are minor (three half steps), this leads to exactly the same pattern of major and minor double stops as for chords in a major key. Double stop 3rds on the 1st, 4th and 5th scale degrees are major, while double stop 3rds on the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees are minor.
If you start playing a pattern on the root note then as you move up the fretboard then major and minor thirds occur in this pattern.
Major minor minor Major Major minor minor Major
Double Stop 3rds Guitar Fingerings
Fingerings for major and minor double stop 3rds are shown in the figures below. The fingerings shown in blue work on all pairs of strings except the second and third strings. On the second and third string use the fingering shown in orange. The pattern is different because these two strings are tuned to an interval of a major third, all the other strings are tuned to an interval of a perfect fourth.
Examples In The Key Of G Major
The easiest way to get the hang of using double stop 3rds in your rhythm guitar playing is to look at some examples. Below you will find examples showing thirds intervals over a G chord at the third fret. Note that the G major chord can be played in either open position or with an E form bar chord.
These examples will help you to familiarise yourself with the double stop 3rds you can use over any major chord with a sixth string root. In each case the base note of the interval is on the lower string. On the higher string is a minor or major third, depending on the scale degree of the base note. As you work through the exercises make sure you name each note and its scale degree – you'll need to know these by heart to make up and play your own riffs.
More Examples In The Key Of D Major
The next set of examples show use of double stop thirds patterns around a D major chord played using an A bar chord form with the root on the 5th string. You can move these double stop thirds positions up and down the fretboard to use them with any chord that has its root on the 5th string.
Now It's Your Turn
When you've familiarised yourself with the thirds positions using the examples above make up some licks of your own. There's no reason the licks in the examples work other than that they sound good. You are free to use any series of thirds you wish in your licks, let your ear be your guide.
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