5 Advanced Guitar Playing Techniques You Should Learn


1. Pinch harmonics

Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society/ex-Ozzy Osbourne set the standard in the rock guitar world with their mind blowing pinch harmonic solos. You can add that to your guitar playing by learning how to do pinch harmonics too.

Grasp your pick in such a way that only a small piece of the tip can be seen from between your thumb and index finger. As you strike the string, give the pick a little forward twist, so that the flesh of your finger touches the string to partially stop or mute it slightly. This may require a lot of practice but the resulting note should have a harmonic (a high pitched sound) in it. Use distortion rather than an overdrive tone to help understand the sound better. While trying this technique, make sure you use vibrato after picking, to get the sounds of the pinch harmonic right.

2. Legatos

Legato simply means tied together. It is a guitar technique that involves less of picking and more of using your fret hand. This technique is played using hammer ons and pull-offs. The best way to learn legato is by taking a scale you are comfortable with. If you've not had much experience using the hammer on and pull-off before, the first step is to learn them. Start on the thinnest string, first finger the 1st fret, pick the note and then hammer on the next fret using your 2nd finger real hard without picking that note. Do it right and that note should be almost as loud as the picked one.

Once you feel comfortable with the hammer on, you should try the pull-off technique. Put your 1st finger down where it was before and leave it down and put down your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret. Pick the note held by your 3rd finger and pull it off, so the note held by the 1st finger sounds. Once you get it right, try it with your other fingers too. Apply the same technique using scales. 

3. Tapping

Tapping involves using the tip of the fingers from your picking hand to hammer on and pull-off strings in the same way you would be using your fret hand. Finger tapping is a common technique that is used by electric guitar players. Practicing this exercise on an acoustic guitar would require more physical work on both hammer ons and pull-offs. Generally, guitar players use their middle finger of the pick hand as it also allows you to pick when required. 

Your right hand middle finger sounds the first note (12th fret of the high E string) on a string by hammering onto it once then pulling off to a lower note (5th fret of the high E string) held by one of the left hand fingers, that of which is then finally pulled off to the last note held by another left hand finger.

4. Shredding

No secret that every person who picks up a guitar, dreams of one thing, that is…playing super fast. And there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. Playing fast is quite fun if you learn it well. It needs loads of practice, hours of practice to make it sound awesome. But here's the thing…when it comes to guitar playing and speed, it is quite easy to learn but really hard to master.

The secret of mastering speed is very simple. If you religiously practice, you will get it right and you'll be the happiest person on this planet. One of the most commonly used and effective techniques for building speed is the chromatic exercise, i.e. playing 1-2-3-4 using a metronome. Now, you have to make sure that you focus on playing these four notes per string, to a click and work on developing your speed slowly and steadily. After the chromatic exercise, you may try a minor scale and start slow. 

5. Sweep Picking

The basic idea of sweep picking is that you are going to be playing two or more notes on adjacent strings using the same picking direction (down stroke or up stroke) for all of the notes. A lot of times when you talk about sweep picking, it’s in the context of metal guitar playing. But this technique can be used in various manners for some different sounding effects, for example, incorporating sweep picking in Blues, Jazz, and other styles of music.

Here is one of the basic sweep picking ideas. Play an arpeggio on the guitar (the notes of a chord played one at a time) on 3 adjacent strings. Take, for example, a D minor arpeggio on the top three strings. When sweep picking, don’t lift up your pick for each individual note. Just let your pick sweep across the surface of the strings. It’s similar to the motion when you strum, but you will articulate each note rather that just hear all notes as one chord.

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