Watch the Double Stops Exercises online guitar lesson by Johnny Hiland from Ten Gallon Guitar

Now let’s get into a part of the learning experience which I have a blast with, double stops. Double stops are simply two notes played simultaneously. They are everywhere and you’ll have a great time learning them. It will help with chicken pickin’ and help you find different chord shapes.

Let’s get started with how double stops work. I’ll show you a couple of scales used to learn double stops and go from there. We are going to play the neck horizontally. We’ll start with a simply A scale. We’ll start on the 14th fret (A bar). There will be a little formula behind this scale that I want you to remember. The formula comes in to the positioning of your fingers, so I call the bar position 1. Then we play 13th and 12th fret on the G and B strong, slide that down to 11th and 10th now, bar on 9th, bar on the 7th and then play 6th and 5th, 4th and 3rd , then bar on the 2nd. This is in association with the G and B string only. The formula to remember is 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1. If you can remember that you’ll never fail in the double stop scale patterns. Whether you are on stage or giving a lesson or show someone how these work, this is a great formula to remember the double stops scale.

When practicing in the horizontal way of using the entire fret board is to get you into ghost notes. Ghost notes are basically a ghost note – or a dead note. You hear it but you don’t hear the tonal value of the note. We are going to have fun with the right hand for a moment in the chicken pickin’ round. To practice using the double stop scale we’re going to use single picking, double picking, and triple picking. The first thing is single picking. When I was playing the double stop scale, I was playing the actual double stop with both of my fingernails and that’s where you’re really see the ring finger come into play. Now, we are going to ghost note the D string on the bottom. We’re going to play a single note, ghost note, and then use it within this double stop scale. Now, we’re going to use a double picking technique with the ghost note. We’re going to go down-up-pull. Now, let’s do this as a triplet. We are going to go down-up-down with the pick on the ghost note and hit the double stop. I teach this now in the midst of double stops because your right hand is the percussive part which comes in to make these double stops work. For example, if I’m playing a fast country train beat thing, I might switch it up or play the whole thing with triplets (watch the video for examples). You can have a lot of fun with the double stops when utilizing the right hand technique to create the chicken pickin’ tone and sound. It’s essential to use the fake fingernails! I love using the fake fingernails. I’ve had these on for 12 years and I love going through the grocery store line and the women behind the counter tells me I have nice nails.

Let’s get back to it. The double stop scales can also be used going down in a vertical fashion. Always remember what key you are playing in. For example, we just played the A scale horizontally, now we are going to do it vertically. Now we are going to use our Major scale format. The double stop scale to that would be started on 5th and 6th (5th on low E and 6th on the A string), 7th and 5th, IX and VII. Let’s move down to the A and D string and play 5th and 4th slide up to 7th and 6th then 9th and 7th Sliding down to the D and G string, we’re going to play 6th and 4th, 7th and 6th, 9th and 7th. Use the 6th and 5th, bar on 7th and bar on 9th, 7th and 5th on the B and E, 9th and 7th, and 10th and 9th to finish. That will get you started in knowing how to use double stops. You don’t necessarily use the right hand technique when using the vertical style, unless you come back down – we’ll talk about that in a bit.