7 October 2010

Essential Double Stop Sixths For Guitar

This guitar lesson for intermediate players introduces easy pattern you can use to play double-stop sixths licks. Double stop sixths can be used either as part of a solo or as a rhythm guitar technique to create some moving lines in the backing part. Either way they sound great in blues, soul, R&B and rock styles.

Sixths Intervals

Double stop sixths are created by stacking sixths intervals on each note of the major scale. Because of the major scale's pattern of whole and half steps sixths built on the 1st, 4th and 5th scale degrees are major. Sixths on the other scale degrees are minor.

These major and minor intervals have a different shape on the fretboard.

Double Stop Sixths Shapes On The Guitar

Double stop sixths can be played all over the fretboard, but in this lesson we're going to start with three shapes that are easy to learn and experiment with.

The tab below shows three double stop sixths on the 1st and 3rd string. They are built respectively on the 3rd, 4th and 5th degrees of the E major scale going up the third string.

Double Stop 6ths Shapes

Notice that both notes occur at the same frets for the major 6ths on the 4th and 5th degrees at the 2nd and 4th frets. For the minor double stop on the 3rd degree at the 1st fret, the note on the first string is one fret lower.

You might notice too how these shapes relate to the open E major chord. They can be moved up the neck to start on the third degree of any E form bar chord with its root on the 6th string. For example, to play double stop sixths licks in A play the first shape at the 6th fret 3rd string and the 5th fret 1st string.

Making Sixths Licks With These Shapes

You can make up sixths licks by playing any combination of the three double stops. You can slide in and out, up and down, and play chromatically around the shapes in any way you want.

Here are a couple of example licks to give you some ideas.

6ths Lick #1

6ths Lick #2

6ths Lick #3

Move With The Chords

One important thing to know when you use double stop sixths is that you should move them with the chords. For example, if you're playing a I-IV-V progression in E major you should play the above sixth shapes over the E chord. Over the A chord move the pattern up to the 5th fret and over the B chord move it up to the 7th fret.

Going Further

To get the most out of this double stop sixths pattern here are a couple of tips.

1. Experiment with hammer-ons and pull-offs, for example the half step hammer-on from the minor to the major third on the 3rd string sounds especially sweet in blues.

2. When you've mastered playing the three basic shapes create new sounds by playing pairs of notes from adjacent shapes. For example, with the E shapes above play the F# note on the 2nd fret of the first string with the B note on the 4th fret of the third string.


Now you know three easy shapes to play double stop sixths. These shapes are great for adding interest to both solos and rhythm guitar. They sound great in all styles of music, so have fun playing around with them and add them to your bag of guitar tricks.

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