Double stops are when you play 2 notes at the same time on your guitar. They are also called “multiple notes” or “polyphonic” and are used in many genres of music.
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Guitar Double Stops: What Are They?
- 2 What Are Guitar Double Stops?
- 3 Double Stops: A Pentatonic Scale Primer
- 4 Exploring Double Stops with Triads
- 5 Double Stops on the Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide
- 6 Double Stops in Music
- 7 Unlocking the Secrets of Double Stops
- 8 Conclusion
Guitar Double Stops: What Are They?
What Are Double Stops?
So you want to know what double stops are? Well, they’re an extended left-hand technique where you play two notes from two strings at the same time. There are four different kinds:
- Two open strings
- Open string with fingered notes on the string below
- Open string with fingered notes on the string above
- Both notes fingered on adjacent strings
It’s not quite as intimidating as it sounds! Double stops on the guitar are just a technique that involves playing two notes at the same time. It’s that simple.
What Does a Double Stop Look Like?
In tab form, a double stop looks something like this:
Three examples of double stops on guitar.
So What’s the Point?
Double stops are a great way to add a bit of flavor to your guitar playing. Think of it as a middle ground between single notes and chords. You’ve probably heard the term ‘triad’ before, which refers to a simple chord made up of three notes. Well, the technical term for double stops is ‘dyad’, which, as you’ve probably figured out, refers to the use of two notes simultaneously.
So if you’re looking to spice up your guitar playing, give double stops a try!
What Are Guitar Double Stops?
Guitar double stops are a fun way to add a unique flavor to your playing. But what exactly are they? Let’s take a look!
What Are Double Stops?
Double stops are two notes played together at the same time. They’re derived from harmonized scale notes, which means they’re created by taking two notes from a given scale and playing them together.
Here are some of the common intervals used for double stops:
- 3rds: two notes that are a 3rd apart
- 4ths: two notes that are a 4th apart
- 5ths: two notes that are a 5th apart
- 6ths: two notes that are a 6th apart
- Octaves: two notes that are an octave apart
Let’s take a look at some examples of double stops using the harmonized A major scale:
- 3rds: A-C#, B-D#, C#-E
- 4ths: A-D, B-E, C#-F#
- 5ths: A-E, B-F#, C#-G#
- 6ths: A-F#, B-G#, C#-A#
- Octaves: A-A, B-B, C#-C#
So there you have it! Double stops are a great way to add some spice to your guitar playing. Have fun experimenting with the different intervals and see what sounds you can come up with!
Double Stops: A Pentatonic Scale Primer
What is a Pentatonic Scale?
A pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that’s used in a variety of musical genres, from rock and blues to jazz and classical. It’s a great way to quickly find notes that sound great together and can be used to create some really cool double stops.
How to Use the Pentatonic Scale for Double Stops
Using the pentatonic scale to create double stops is easy! All you need to do is take two adjacent notes from the scale and you’re good to go. Here’s an example using the A minor pentatonic scale:
- Two frets apart: A and C
- Three frets apart: A and D
- Four frets apart: A and E
- Five frets apart: A and F
- Six frets apart: A and G
You can use any position of the minor or major pentatonic scales to create double stops. Some will sound better than others, and some positions are easier to use than others. So get out there and start experimenting!
Exploring Double Stops with Triads
What are Triads?
Triads are three-note chords that can be used to create some awesome double stops. Think of it like this: take any triad shape across all string groupings, remove one note, and you’ve got yourself a double stop!
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know:
- Double stops can be pulled from all triads across the entire fretboard.
- You can create some really cool sounds by experimenting with different triad shapes.
- It’s super easy to do – just take any triad shape and remove one note!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring double stops with triads!
Double Stops on the Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide
If you’re looking to add some extra flavor to your guitar playing, double stops are the way to go! Here’s a quick rundown of how to play them:
- Pick both notes at the same time – nothing fancy here!
- Hybrid picking: combine picking with a guitar pick and your fingers.
- Slides: slide up or down between double stops.
- Bends: use bends on one or both of the notes in the double stop.
- Hammer-ons/pull-offs: play one or both notes of the double stops with the given technique.
Hybrid picking is a great way to add some extra oomph to your double stops. Here’s how to do it:
- Use your middle and/or ring finger of the picking hand to play the double stops.
- Make sure to keep your pick handy so you can switch between picking and hybrid picking.
- Experiment with different combinations of fingers and pick to find the sound you’re looking for.
Slides are a great way to create smooth transitions between double stops. Here’s how to do it:
- Make sure both sets of notes have the same structure.
- Slide up or down between the double stops.
- Experiment with different speeds and lengths of slides to get the sound you’re looking for.
Bends are a great way to add some extra flavor to your double stops. Here’s how to do it:
- Use bends on one or both of the notes in the double stop.
- Experiment with different lengths and speeds of bends to get the sound you’re looking for.
- Make sure to use the right amount of pressure when bending the strings.
Hammer-ons and pull-offs are a classic way to play double stops. Here’s how to do it:
- Play one or both notes of the double stops with the given technique.
- Experiment with different combinations of hammer-ons and pull-offs to get the sound you’re looking for.
- Make sure to use the right amount of pressure when playing the notes.
Double Stops in Music
Jimi Hendrix was a master of the double stop. Here are a few of his classic licks that you can learn to impress your friends:
- Little Wing: This intro is full of double stops from the A minor scale. You’ll be shredding like Hendrix in no time!
- Wait Until Tomorrow: This one uses double stops from the E minor scale with a major 6th thrown in for good measure. It’s a unique lick that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Double stops can be found in tons of songs, here are a few of our favorites:
- Endless Parade by Gov’t Mule: This one starts off with a double stop hammer on from the C#m pentatonic scale. Give it a listen and you’ll find plenty of other double stops throughout the song.
- You Could Be Mine by Guns N’ Roses: This one uses double stops from the F#m and Em pentatonic scales with a major 6th for a bluesy flavor.
- That Was A Crazy Game of Poker by O.A.R.: This one is straight from the C major pentatonic scale.
- Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd: David Gilmour is known for his triads, but he also likes to use descending double stops for guitar fills. This lick comes from the F major pentatonic scale.
Unlocking the Secrets of Double Stops
What are Double Stops?
Double stops are a great way to add some extra flavor to your guitar playing. Basically, when you play two notes at the same time, you create a harmony that can really make your music stand out.
How to Play Harmonies with Double Stops
When it comes to playing harmonies with double stops, the key is to find complementary notes that will sound good together. In the key of C, for example, if you play an E note (first string open) and add a C on the second string first fret, you’ll get a nice, consonant harmony.
Examples of Double Stops
If you want to hear some great examples of double stops, check out the following songs:
- “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” by KISS – this song features some awesome “twin guitar” motifs throughout the solo.
- “To Be With You” by Mr. Big – Paul begins the solo with the chorus melody and harmony parts using double stops.
Creating Your Own Harmonies
If you want to create your own harmonized melodies, here’s a handy framework to get you started:
- In the key of C, you can use the following shapes to create your own harmony lines:
- Play these shapes in different orders to come up with your own unique harmonized melodies.
So there you have it – the basics of double stops and how to use them to create beautiful harmonies. Now get out there and start rocking!
In conclusion, double stops are an incredibly useful and versatile technique for guitarists of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a new way to spice up your playing or an experienced player looking for a unique sound, double stops are a great way to add texture and interest to your music. Plus, they’re easy to learn and you can find plenty of examples in popular songs.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
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