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Essential Guitar Playing Techniques to Amaze Your Audience

Updated on January 29, 2019
DonaldCCox profile image

Hi guys, Donald Cox here. A man who loves other people. I'm entertainment lover especially music and guitar passionate.

Welcome to a little mini-series addressing the all-important area of technique. Amps and fancy gear can only make you sound so good!

There are four techniques I went into here:

  1. Vibrato
  2. Bends
  3. Slides
  4. Hammer-ons/pull-offs.

These four techniques are the most important, common, expressive, and unique only to stringed instruments, and they give us our soul as guitarists!

I’ve done each as its own video to make browsing easier. Have at it.

Technique #1: Vibrato


Vibrato is a method of regular pulsing (shaking) of a pitch. Except for classical vibrato, it consists of raising the original pitch and returning it to center.

Vibrato can be done with the fingers or the wrist, the wrist being a more stable, preferred method in my opinion.

Technique #2: Bending

Bending is SUPER energetic technique to have under the belt, and one of the difficult to get used to!

Like vibrato, bends can be performed with the fingers or the wrist, the wrist being preferred for its control. Keep your thumb over the neck with a closed grip and pivot your vibrato from that grip between the thumb and base of the first finger.

Support the weight of the bend by using several fingers if at all possible. Always know where the bend is going–what pitch are you bending to? Start with a half-step (single fret) bend, then move to a whole step.

Technique #3: Slides

A slide is a method that’s used to articulate a note.

A very good example would be moving between two different notes on the same string by picking the primary note and sliding to the second without picking it.

Slides can be done either by pivoting or position-shifting.

Technique #4: Hammer-ons/Pull-offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are very helpful, expressive methods for guitarists, and some of the more natural techniques to get down.

The concept is alike to a slide: you’re playing two notes, picking the first and either hammering-on or pulling-off into the second without picking it.

Hammer-ons

A basic hammer-on is performed by picking the first note and “hammering” into a note on a higher fret on the same string. Hammer-ons can also be done without a note prior, hammering directly into the desired fret.

Pull-offs

A pull off is done by “pulling-off” a fretted note to a note at a fret underneath it. The second note has to be fretted beforehand of course, so this technique requires two fretting fingers to perform.

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