Guitar techniques
The more you have...

The more guitar techniques you have mastered the more weaponry you have at your fingertips to set yourself apart as a guitarist to be reckoned with.

I'll give you a couple of examples. Ever heard of a guy named Jimi Hendrix? Eddie Van Halen? Doyle Dykes? Dimebag Darrell?

What do these guys have in common? - certainly not the type of music that they play.

Give up?

They have spent their time, paid their dues to master the guitar methods they need (or needed) to play their music, and it is not ordinary at all.

They reached the level called extraordinary. Virtuoso.

These are masters of their craft.

No one persons music is for everyone. But the point is, in the area of music that they play each one is a master.

So which techniques do you need to master?

It depends not only on the type of music you want to or need to play but also what type of guitar you are playing.

Electric guitar techniques are sometimes different than an acoustic guitar.

Same thing with the type of music you are playing. Each type takes the mastery of specific techniques.

Each technique produces a different sound which is the essence of the type of music produced by the technique.

So here's a short explanation of some of the more common guitar techniques and the type of music each one could be applied to.

Guitar Techniques - The way to add interest to your playing.

Guitar strumming patterns -

Strumming is just that - Gliding the pick or fingers across the strings in the rhythm of the song you are playing.

This sounds simple but the rhythm patterns are different for each song and strumming can be a study all to itself. Complexity or simplicity of your strumming pattern makes the song.

Alternate Picking technique-

Alternate picking is an up down picking motion on the strings to increase your speed and smoothness. Alternate picking exercises are worth including as a regular part of your guitar practice routine.

Finger Picking or fingerstyle -

When I think of finger picking I think of country music. Each note is played by an individual finger. Alternating bass can be combined with the melody.

Combined with left-hand techniques, finger style is one of the most impressive techniques you can master.

Sweep picking technique -

Sweep picking is using an either straight up or down motion across all the notes in the arpeggio or pattern that you are playing.This can be combined with legato techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Sweep picking along with all the other guitar techniques can be mixed up and used together. Whatever works to make your music.

Hybrid Picking -

Hybrid picking is using not only a regular pick but using the free fingers of the right hand to pick individual strings. This can be used on all kinds of music and just depends on the creativity and skill of the guitarist.


Bending the strings can take ordinary music and make it great.It can be used as both an acoustic and electric guitar technique.

The effect is produced by using two or more fingers of the left hand and bending the string while plucking the string with the left. The amount of bend determines the raising of the pitch.

Used in rock, blues and about everything else. Bending is a somewhat intuitive skill that takes practice but once you got it, it has you.

Guitar vibrato -

Vibrato is used to give feel and emotion to your playing. That is when it works best. Use emotion to put your strings in motion.

You produce vibrato by using your wrist and fingers to wiggle the string and make the pitch wobble.


A hammer on is a legato technique that is produced when you sound a note by striking down on the string with your finger. The vibration comes from the force of your finger hitting the string and it helps to turn up the amp if you are using it as an electric guitar technique.

Guitar pull offs

A guitar pull off is a left-hand legato technique on the fretboard. One note is held down on a fret above on the same string. The note is sounded with a plucking motion with the finger below the other. So that one note is sounded with the pluck and then you hear the note above it.

This is a cool technique to combine with hammer-ons, slides etc.

Guitar tapping technique -

Tapping was brought into the world of Rock music by Eddie Van Halen.

To say it took the guitar world by storm would be an understatement.

The Technique is achieved by a combination of a tapping and plucking on the fretboard combined with hammer ons and pull offs.

The effect is dramatic and makes the player sound almost superhuman in speed.

Pinch harmonics

Pinch harmonics are cool. You can make your guitar sing or squeal like an otherworldly machine.

Pinch harmonics are produced when a string is barely touched with the edge of a finger or thumb after it has been struck with a pick or fingernail.

What happens is that the base note is muted somewhat and the overtones are what you hear.

This works best on as an electric guitar technique with a good tube amp that has the gain cranked. Lots to work with.

The gain ups the overtones and this produces the effect you are looking for.

Natural harmonics -

Natural harmonics are a really classy acoustic guitar technique.

These are easy to learn they are produced by barely touching an open string that has just been struck with a finger or pick.

This kills the original core note and sounds the overtones in a bell-like chime.

Doyle Dykes is a master of this technique.

Palm muting techniques -

Palm muting is a very important method of laying your picking hand lightly across the strings to mute or partially mute some or all of the strings.

This makes your guitar more of a percussion instrument. Used in all styles either as an acoustic or electric guitar technique. Well there you go some very important technique descriptions - vital tools in your toolbox as a guitarist.

Roy Barnett

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