For uniqueness and an ability to really stretch yourself, would be great if we could all “invent” a new way of playing the guitar or employing a technique that no-one else has ever used. To be honest, this is probably quite unlikely, but here are some really cool techniques you may or may not have heard of, some of which you may like to research and learn for yourselves.Playing a harmonic by “splitting” the string.
This is a technique commonly used by Nils Lofgren, both in his solo work and whilst playing in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band. Essentially, you place your fretting hand on a note and then, in unison, pluck your thumb and one other finger of your strumming hand between the fret you are holding down and the bridge. This will produce a harmonic note, although there will be an element of trial and error before you hear that note ring out.
Finger Vibrato - Picking hand bending
This is a really cool way to imitate a whammy bar; so if you do not have one, try giving this technique a go. You can also start by playing some easy guitar songs. So how does it work?
Well, first of all play any not (probably best using some overdrive) and then pinch the string below the note you have just fretted and shake it up and down. In terms of the bend and the note variation, you can exaggerate this as much or as little as you want; with a bit of experimentation, you will almost be able to replicate the effect of a whammy bar. In fact, I reckon you can make some even better sounds!!! Because you will be pinching the string below the note you are playing, it will still ring out when you wobble that note around. Even if you don’t use it much, it’s great fun to mess around with.
Quick pull-offs using the open E string
This is quite commonly used, but by playing the G note on the 15th fret of the high E string, pulling off, so the open E string sounds out and then repeating the same for the A on the 17th fret and B on the 19th fret and then repeating the sequence over and over again, you can create a fast riff that also incorporated melody. Similarly, you can experiment using other positions on the beck. A good warm up and great fun.
Bending a note “out of tune”
Commonly used by Hendrix, if you are playing a solo that uses bends, and, say, are needing a note up 2 steps, try bending it up 3 steps, so it sound “sort of” out of tune. The pure target note may deliberately have been missed, but , when it works, it created a sound of real attitude. Why not have a play around with it.
Pull-on/Pull-off (Artificial) HarmonicsThis is an excellent trick that you can keep up your sleeve, especially if you are improvising and starting to run out of ideas!!! And it’s mainly for the rock and metal guitarists out there. You will probably have to be a relatively advanced player to use this effectively, but, like all these things, there’s nothing wrong with messing around with it, as this will still help you improve.
An example of how to use this, is to hammer on and pull off as fast as you can on the 2nd fret of the D and open D string. Then very lightly “float” your pinky (or other finger if it works best for you) up and down the D string between the pick-ups. Once you have mastered this you will sound like a guitar master and sound impressive, especially if used in the right places of a song or solo.
As a well respected player, teacher and coach, Andy Partridge is the lead instructor for Guitar Coach Magazine. Andy’s gentle step by step approach, and detailed note by note lessons, will give you the confidence, reassurance and motivation you need to really achieve your guitar playing goals sooner than you thought possible. His relaxed and engaging teaching style (complete with sometimes questionable jokes) make learning easier, faster, and so much more fun.