List of Guitar Techniques

This is a breakdown of attack, sustain and muting techniques for the left and right hands.

On the guitar, the left hand is used to either sustain or mute the strings. The right hand is used to either attack the strings (cause them to vibrate), or to mute the strings.

Positioning your fingers

Open Chords and Scales:  The left-hand fingertips press down on the strings, right behind the frets.

Barre Chords and Movable Chords:  You can set your fingers flat against the neck to cover 2 or more strings. With barre chords, the index finger is set flat across the strings, while you make shapes with the other three fingers. There are conditioning steps to get you comfortable with barre chords.

Sustain Techniques for the Left Hand

• Hammer (on) Hammers allow you to sound a note by tapping the string firmly with a finger of the left hand. This implies going to a higher note.

• Pull (off) Pulls allow your to sound a note by plucking the string as you pull your finger away from the string. This implies going to a lower note.

• String Bend (up) raise from a lower note to a higher note – variables involve the ‘shape’ of the note as it rises in pitch

• String Release (down) release from a higher note to a lower note – variables involve the shape of the note as it lowers in pitch – for some reason, notes tend to sound flat after a release – try lowering to a pitch slightly sharp to the ‘target’ pitch

• Vibrato rhythmic oscillation in pitch – variables are rate (slow or fast) and width (narrow or wide)

• Slide Up (glissando) from lower note to higher note –variables involve the ‘shape’ of the note as it rises in pitch – similar to the sound of a bend, but a ‘slide’ can cover a larger distance than a bend

• Slide Down (glissando) from higher note to lower note – variables involve the ‘shape’ of the note as it lowers in pitch

Muting Techniques for the Left Hand

• Lifting your finger(s) off the frets

• Touching string(s) lightly – not pressing hard enough to make the string touch the frets

Attack Techniques for Right Hand

• Pick Stroke Down – use a flat pick (or thumb) to pick downward from the ‘top’ of the string

• Pick Stroke Up use a flat pick (or finger) to pick upward from the ‘bottom’ of the string

• Alternate Pick alternate up and down pick strokes

• Rest Stroke – the pick (or finger) rests on the string before the attack – this means that the pick doesn’t change direction for the attack

• Free Stroke – the pick (or finger) does not rest on the string before the attack – opposite of a rest stroke – the pick may change direction for the attack

• Sweep Picking an advanced technique for playing fast, single-line parts that produces a smoother sound than alternate picking – a technique that uses rest strokes wherever possible to cut the number of times the pick changes direction

• Tapping Notes – using fingers of the right hand (or the pick) to play hammers and pulls; either in front of the left hand, or behind the left – usually alternating with hammers and pulls in the left hand

Muting Techniques for Right Hand

The first three techniques are mostly for single lines.

• With the thumb moving to a higher string

• With the ‘free’ fingers moving to lower string

• With the pick playing a note on the same string

• With the side of the hand – used for muting both single lines and chords

 

List of Guitar Techniques

Copyright 2000 by Greg Varhaug. All Rights Reserved.