Welcome to this double stops guitar lesson for beginners. In this lesson, I will be introducing you to the exciting world of double stops. These things will really fatten up your lead guitar work and take your guitar playing to another level. If you’ve never used them before, prepare to have your mind blown my six stringed mate.
Double stops guitar lesson what exactly are double stops?
Whether you know it or not, you’ve heard them before. A double stop on guitar is simply the act of playing two notes at once. That’s all there is to it in terms of the concept. Here is a fragment of a double stop based guitar lick to give you an idea. Play it. See how the technique feels.
Basic double stop guitar lick example
The double stops on fret 5 are played with 1 finger as a mini barre. The double stop at the end of the example is played with two fingers (the first and second in this case). This is a good representation of double stops as they are sometimes performed with 1 finger and sometimes performed with 2. As a general rule, if the notes of a double stop are across 1 fret, you’d perform that double stop with one finger. If the double stop notes are across 2 frets, you’d use 2 fingers to perform it.
Does this technique sound familiar? It may do. The double stop technique has been extremely popular for a long time. I personally discovered it through Chuck Berry and the song Johnny Be Goode. Listen to the intro to that song to hear double stops in action.
Double stops are way too popular to list prominent users but I particularly enjoy how Stevie Ray Vaughan used them.
Double stops guitar lesson learning and creating double stop guitar licks
The double stop technique is used by pretty much every guitarist I’ve heard and hopefully, learning that basic double stop example will help you spot them in the music you listen to.
But, our double stops guitar lesson isn’t going to end there. We are going to learn a few basic double stop guitar licks that will put you on the right path and also look at how you can create your own double stop guitar licks all over the fretboard.
Double stops guitar lesson the building blocks
We’re going to start with the later of the two lesson sections. By tackling the material this way around, you’ll hopefully find that you understand the construction of the example licks that we look at later a little more than you would if I was just to give you some TAB.
For this lesson, we will be focusing (mostly) on the minor pentatonic scale. If you don’t know the minor scale already, I would suggest going away and learning it first. Oh look, here’s a link to the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat Guitar Scale Library.
Here you can see three images. All of which are the first position of the minor pentatonic scale and they all show combinations of notes that I like to use as double stops.
These combinations are indicated by colours. Black means no double stop. I hope you understand how I’m presenting this. If not, how did you even get here? Seriously though, I couldn’t think of a better visual way of displaying this.
Double stops in the first shape of the minor pentatonic scale 1
Double stops in the first shape of the minor pentatonic scale 2
Double stops in the first shape of the minor pentatonic scale 3
2 of the images show you examples of 1 finger double stops in the first shape of the minor pentatonic scale and 1 image shows you examples of 2 finger double stops in the same scale shape. The 1 finger double stops are simple to understand but let me explain a couple of the 2 finger ones.
I use the 2 finger red double stop that lies across the B and G strings in combination with a tone bend on the G string. This bend means that you’re playing 2 of the same note. Sounds pretty cool. More on that when we get to the examples.
The yellow double stop on that same image uses a note that’s outside of the standard minor pentatonic scale. This is an added 6th. It sounds pretty badass. You can see that same note utilised in one of the other note combinations. This added note is a really cool little trick so incorporate it into your playing.
These images will hopefully show you how easy it can be to create and use double stop note combinations. It’s quite easy to slip in these little combinations when you’re using the minor pentatonic scale. The above can be played anywhere on the fretboard by simply moving the scale shape to your desired key.
Another way of playing double stops all over the fretboard is by using different scale shapes. I’ve only shown 1 shape of the minor pentatonic scale as a starting point but as you’ll see soon, it’s easy to apply this principle all over your instrument with different scale shapes.
Double stops guitar lesson example double stop guitar licks
In this part of the lesson, we are going to look at some examples of double stop guitar licks. Take these licks and test them out. Try and fit them into your lead guitar playing. Find where they work and where they don’t. Steal them if you like but also break them up and make your own unique double stop guitar licks.
Also figure out how I put the licks together. Some of the material uses double stops from the previous images and some material steps out of the box. I put barely any thought into the below. I tell you this to demonstrate just how easy it is to incorporate double stops into lead guitar.
Double stop guitar licks example 1
This first double stop lick uses a rock n roll style lick influenced by Johnny Be Goode which is the track I mentioned right at the start of the lesson. It also uses that bended double stop that I talked about. This lick is in the key of B minor but like I said earlier, you can move this lick, and all the others around the fretboard and play it in different keys.
Double stop guitar licks example 2
We’re off to the key of E minor now for some triplet based double stops. We’re sticking within that first position of the minor pentatonic for this one but we still have that added 6th included.
Double stop guitar licks example 3
This one is a little bit fiddlier but you’ll get it with a bit of practice. We’ve got another quick bended double stop and then later, a 2 fingered double stop across the G and D strings. This one is in A minor and still uses that minor pentatonic shape.
Double stop guitar licks example 4
Things don’t get easier with this next double stop guitar lick but this lick in E flat minor is really fun. We’re using a combination of the first and also the fifth shape of the minor pentatonic scale here just to mix things up a little. This is an example of how easy it is to bring other scale shapes into the equation. That quick part may feel tricky but keep at it and you’ll get it.
Double stop guitar licks example 5
I’ve moved away from triplets for this last double stock example lick and gone for an 8th not vibe. This one also shifts up into the second shape of the minor pentatonic scale and uses a double stop there. We’re in the key of G for this one and it should feel a little easier than the previous couple of examples.
5 double stop guitar licks should be enough to get you going if you’re at an early stage. I’ll surely come back to this topic and show you more double stop licks in the future, but this should be plenty to get you started.
Don’t forget to listen out for double stops when you’re listening to music. That’s where you get really cool ideas. You’ll notice that the implementation of the double stop technique is quite wide spread. This means that the double stop technique isn’t just cool sounding. It’s also an essential technique for any lead guitarist.
That just about wraps things up for this double stops guitar lesson. Why not try a little rhythm guitar development next? One thing you could do is learn about the 8 bar blues, 16 bar blues and 24 bar blues. Or if you’d like to stick to all things lead guitar, you could learn about how to practice bends on guitar in the best possible way.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.