Advanced Guitar Techniques to Learn
If you are an intermediate guitarist, playing what you know is not enough to make you an advanced player. To become an advanced player, you need to improve and develop new skills constantly. Getting stuck in a rut is a common symptom of this. Advanced guitar techniques such as sweep picking, two-hand tapping, and shredding can help you improve your skills and create new ways to play. The mastery of these techniques can help transform the guitar into a more powerful instrument. When combined with lessons, focusing on these specific guitar techniques can help develop your skills as a guitarist.
Advanced Guitar Techniques | 1. Chord Extensions
There are many chords you can use while playing the guitar. Beginners to play the guitar, of course, first start with simple major and minor chords. However, if you want to play advanced guitar, you need to improve your chords. A chord extension is a great way to take your playing to the next level by adding a new flavour to your repertoire. You can also vary some of your standard chord choices to create new ones. You can find YouTube videos that show how to create various extensions such as 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords. For example, if you’re playing a 12-bar blues, add some Dom9 chords to create a funky edge or combine these with Sus2 and 11 for a funk-oriented sound. By learning how to use chord extensions, you’ll be able to improve your playing at an advanced level.
2. Lead Guitar Improvisation
One of the foundations of rock and blues guitar playing is improvisation. Improvisational guitar playing is playing something that has not been determined before by making it up suddenly. With almost all guitarists as role models, Guitar legends are adept at improvising. As everyone knows, Jimmy Page and the rest of the Led Zeppelin team are known for taking classic songs and turning them into jam sessions. Although improvisational playing is typically regarded as a skill for lead guitarists, it can be done without planning. For instance, imagine taking all of your notes and scales and improvising on them without even knowing what to do next.
Although it may sound scary to even dream of it, you will realize that it is nothing to be afraid of if you practice enough and let the music flow. When trying to improvise, close your eyes and let it rip. It’s a skill that requires practice and learning, and it’s not something you can do overnight. Many people who claim to be able to improvise are regurgitating and have had together with their go-to riffs. So stop and think, are you really improvising or just playing something suitable for the riffs? Let’s continue with a few advanced guitar techniques to improve your improvised solos.
Advanced Guitar Techniques | 3. Pinch Harmonics
Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Zakk Wylde from the Black Label Society set the standard for rock guitar with their mind-blowing pinch harmonics. Position your finger on the string so that only a small portion of it can be seen from the tip of your finger. Twist it slightly to partially stop or mute it as you strike the string. The key to playing a pinch harmonic is in the thumb. Position it so that it stays over the end of the pick. Doing so will allow it to extend itself instead of holding it. Your thumb should be one with your pick attack so that it can graze the string immediately following your pick. Try playing a pinch harmonic on a string with a good fit for the style of guitar you’re playing.
The last component of playing a pinch harmonic is picking the right part of the string. It’s essential to find the sweet spot for the sound that you want from the instrument. Try using distortion instead of overdrive tone while using this advanced guitar technique. It can help you understand the sound better and make it more natural. As you master the technique, try playing pinch harmonics on different strings and frets to see which ones are harder to produce.
Legato is a guitar technique that involves using your hands instead of picking. The legato technique, tying together, is one of the most important advanced guitar techniques you need to learn. It’s usually played using hammer-ons or pull-offs. The first step in learning this advanced guitar technique is to take a scale. You will easily learn the legato technique when you practice on a guitar scale. Of course, you may not have studied the hammer-on and pull-off techniques yet. To summarize, pick a note on the thinnest string and then hammer on the next one using your 2nd finger.
The point you need to pay attention to here is that when playing the second note, you hit the string with your finger, not with the pick. Doing it right will make that note sound almost as loud as the first one. You can now try the pull-off technique when you can comfortably apply the hammer-on technique. What you need to do here is, for example, first put your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret and your 1st finger on the 1st fret. When you hit the string, the 3rd fret will sound, and at this point, you will slide your finger over the 3r fret, making the 1st fret resonate as well. Try this technique with different fingers.
Advanced Guitar Techniques | 5. Two-Handed Tapping
The tapping technique became popular after Van Halen played the song Eruption in 1978. Although Eddie Van Halen didn’t invent the technique, he brought it to the masses through his “A Different Side of You” performance in 1975. It’s believed that he performed this song as a solo during that period. Some other musicians who experimented with this technique during the 1970s include Steve Hackett of the Roots and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. In the 1990s, guitarist Nuno Bettencourt of the band Extremes took the two-handed technique to a new level by playing “Get the Funk Out”. This is a very challenging technique that requires patience and practice.
Two-handed tapping is a technique that involves both hands working together to perform various notes and movements on the guitar. This advanced guitar technique involves using the tip of your finger to hammer on and pull off strings in the same way that you would do with your fretting hand. Two-handed tapping is a technique that most acoustic and electric guitar players can learn. Of course, you can practice this advanced guitar technique with your acoustic guitar, but tapping on an acoustic guitar requires more muscle power and makes you more tired.
Your right hand begins with the first note on a string by hitting it with a hammer. In this way, you play the note on the fret of your left hand by hitting the 12th fret of any string with the middle finger of your right hand. Then pull off your hand to a lower note by a left-hand finger. This technique can significantly improve your finger coordination and help you create new solo songs.
Advanced Guitar Techniques | 6. Sweep Picking
One of the most known advanced guitar techniques is Sweep Picking. This technique involves playing multiple notes on the same string using the same picking direction. The basic idea of sweeping involves playing an entire arpeggio in one sweep. When performed fast, the resulting notes seamlessly blend. This technique is commonly associated with fast lead guitar playing in various genres. You can use it in various styles of music, such as Jazz, Blues, and even metal guitar playing.Metal guitarists benefit from this technique most. Although it’s commonly perceived as a technique used by shredders, sweep picking has also been used in other genres, as said above. In addition, it’s been used in jazz by musicians such as Chet Atkins and classic rock such as Ritchie Black of Deep Purple.
Now we’re going to show you a few easy sweep ideas. One of the basic sweep picking ideas is to play an arpeggio on the guitar with three adjacent strings. For example, you can try this method in D minor arpeggio. While sweep picking, instead of lifting up your guitar pick for each note, just let it sweep across the strings. In this advanced guitar technique, you play all the notes separately, just like in arpeggio, but just like in strumming, your pick sweeps the strings. This technique is just like strumming, but unlike what we do with strumming, in the sweep picking technique, we hear the sound of each string separately.
Although it’s a bit challenging to master, sweep picking is a great way to add a bit of flare to your playing. If you’ve ever heard a song that features many fast notes, you’ve probably heard a guitarist using this technique. Well, how about trying this technique you just heard about?
Now let’s dive into one of the most preffered advanced guitar techniques: Shredding. When we were talking about sweep picking above, we talked about a technique called shredding. So, what is this shredding? Shredding is the practice of fast-playing solo guitar. Everyone dreams of being able to play fast on a guitar. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but learning how to play fast is hard. In addition to being difficult, it is also quite fun to play fast. This advanced guitar technique requires a lot of practice and practice to make it sound great.
In fact, the secret to fast guitar playing and shredding technique is quite simple. The secret to mastering speed is committing to practice. If you make practice a routine and make practising the shredding technique your worship, eventually, you’ll get the right one. One of the easiest and most effective ways to get started is by playing the chromatic exercise, which focuses on playing the four notes per string. Chromatic exercises are simple guitar practices, such as stepping on the frets as 1-2-3-4 respectively. When you feel like you’re starting to improve, you can improve your shred technique by shifting to small guitar licks then scales. But don’t be in a rush to play fast when you switch to scales. Keep it slow and be patient. This advanced guitar technique will help develop your guitar playing speed and make you a shredder!
Advanced Guitar Techniques | 8. Hybrid Picking
If you’re already familiar with fingerpicking and flat-picking, hybrid picking might be a good fit for you. Hybrid picking is a technique that combines the two techniques of playing the lower and upper strings in a way that makes them sound good. By doing this, the player can play with both their pick and the other finger simultaneously.
The hybrid picking technique offers guitarists various riff and lead guitar options. On the other hand, this advanced guitar technique allows you to play the bass note of a song and then pluck the treble notes immediately after. It’s a great way to introduce rhythm to your playing. So much so that you can use this technique in many musical styles. You can come across this technique in country music, but you can master it on other instruments such as electric guitar and acoustic guitar. The hybrid picking technique is almost indispensable for country music.
On the other hand, this is an advanced guitar technique that involves playing with a pedal steel guitar. A pedal steel guitar is typically played with a bar, and the notes are bent using a series of foot pedals. This playing style produces a unique sound, but it can also be replicated on an electric guitar. The hybrid picking technique involves playing multiple notes simultaneously while bending the notes in a specific order to various chord tones. Hybrid picking is also a great way to improve your guitar playing. This technique will help you play different notes at the same time and produce sounds that will impress. Learning it will also improve your overall guitar playing.
Getting better at playing the guitar can be a rewarding journey, but it can also come with its ups and downs. If you’re unsure what you want to learn next, try some new techniques and see if they can help you get better. Let’s rock and roll!
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Advancing your way throughout the guitar journey is a wholistic process which includes two main pillars: 1. Improving your playing skills; 2. Tweaking the guitar effects and amps to shape your guitar sound.
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Getting the guitar sound of your favorite guitarists/band can be very costly and frustrating. It can require years of expertise to achieve your desired guitar tone.
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