Even if you’re new to the instrument, certain guitar tricks are sure to impress your audience! Here, Greeley, CO teacher Andy W. shares five to try out…
What better reason to play music than to impress your friends? Below are five guitar tricks that are guaranteed to impress your friends:
The slap technique is most commonly used by bass players. But slapping can also be done on a guitar, typically electric. There are three basic elements to slapping. One is to slap with the thumb of your right hand over the pickups. The second is to slap with multiple fingers of the left hand onto the strings over the fretboard. The third element is to pluck notes using available fingers on the right hand. Using these three elements to make a slap sound, you can combine them in any order to make whatever rhythms you want.
Guthrie Govan breaks down slap guitar in a very easy-to-understand video here:
Tapping is a technique where the right hand taps a string and alternates with notes played by the left hand. A basic way you can start tapping is to find three notes that you want to play on one string and play them as triplets using this sequence: tap, pull-off, pull-off. The first note is tapped with your index or middle finger and then pulls-off onto a note held by one of the left hand fingers, which is then pulled-off onto another note held by a left hand finger. Other ways to tap are to use more right hand fingers, use open strings, and to use different rhythms.
The same Guthrie Govan video above also explains tapping.
3. Open String Runs
If you alternate fretted notes with open strings you can create a cascading sound of awesomeness. The video below describes how you can take a scale and substitute as many fretted notes as you want with open strings (E, A, D, G, B, E). The beginning of the lick in the video starts off by descending the G Mixolydian scale (G, A, B, C, D, E, F) from G: G (fretted), F (fretted), E (open), D (fretted), C (fretted), B (open), A (fretted), G (fretted). The video below shows the rest of the lick. This second video demonstrates descending and ascending scales while using open strings!
4. Sweep Picking
Sweep picking may seem intimidating, but it really just combines fretting an arpeggio with the left hand and strumming slowly with the right. The trick with this technique is to simply match up the fretted note with the pick. The video below explains step by step how you can sweep pick without having ever tried it before:
5. Harp Artificial Harmonics
This guitar trick is a variation on artificial harmonics, which itself is a variation on natural harmonics. The natural harmonics are most commonly played on the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets. To play these, you lightly press the left hand on top of the fret without pressing the string to the fret. Then, you pick the note. To make an artificial harmonic, you regularly fret a note with the left hand and then use your right hand index finger to lightly press on that string twelve frets above the fretted note. Then, you pick the string. With this technique, you have to hold the pick between the thumb and middle finger. Finally, to play harp artificial harmonics, you alternate plucking a note using the right hand ring or pinky finger with picking artificial harmonics. This creates a harp-like sound! This technique works well when you can fret a chord using four or more strings without repeating any notes. The video below shows the great guitarist Lenny Breau describing how to accomplish this:
Are your friends impressed yet? If not, then you either need to turn it up louder or practice these guitar tricks even more!
Andy W. teaches guitar, singing, piano, and more in Greeley, CO. He specializes in jazz, and has played guitar for 12 years. Learn more about Andy here!
Photo by Nathan O’Nions