7 Beginner Guitar Playing Techniques

Learn beginner guitar techniques feature image

Learn the fundamental and common beginner techniques that every guitarist must know.  

7 Beginner Playing Techniques

This lesson will teach you the following 7 techniques

  1. Pick holding
  2. Fretting
  3. Hammer-ons
  4. Pull-offs
  5. Bends
  6. Slides
  7. Vibrato

Holding a Pick

Holding a pick

Holding a pick properly will ensure that you can play as fast as possible.  The goal is to have a firm grip so it plucks the string firmly with both downstrokes toward the floor and upstrokes toward the ceiling. The proper way to hold the pick is between your bent index finger and thumb. The amount that it sticks out is a personal preference, and it might also affect the stiffness of the pick that you prefer.

Do not pinch the pick. Pinching makes it harder to play fast because it makes it harder to use your wrist and elbow to help you play. It can also lead to an uneven picking angle. Remember, Holding a pick properly will prevent bad habits that slow down your playing.

Fretting Notes

Fretting a note

Fretting a note is one of the most basic skills for playing the guitar. Many guitarists have formed bad habits that slow their playing. The most important point is to have a proper finger arch so you touch only the string that you want to fret. It also allows you to reach every string. To do this, your thumb usually needs to be placed behind the neck and not over it. Playing closer to the fret also lessens the potential for buzzing.

While fretting, strive to have a light touch.  Pushing too hard will slow you down.

Hammer-ons

Hammer-ons and Pull-offs  produce a legato sound on a single string.  Legato is sounding notes so they connect smoothly.  For guitar, this means you don’t separate the notes by plucking the string again on the second note.  Both hammer-ons and pull-offs are notated with a slur.  The only distinction between the two techniques is that hammer-ons slur to a higher pitch while pull-offs slur to a lower pitch.

Executing a Hammer-on

  1. Fret a note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. Without releasing the first fretted note, quickly hammer or push down the second note without plucking the string again.
Fretting the First Note     Hammering on the Second Note
Hammer-on

Pull-offs

Pull-offs are the exact opposite of hammer-ons. To play a pull-off, you play a note then you fret a note behind the one you just played, finally you pull your finger off the first note without re-plucking the string. Like hammer-ons, the notes will transition smoothly.

Executing a Pull-off

  1. Fret the first note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. Without releasing the first note, fret the second note with another finger.
  4. While keeping the second note fretted, quickly release the first note.  Do not pluck the string again.

 

Hammering on the Second Note     Pulling Off the Note
Pull-off

String Bending

Bends are a great way to add interest to your playing.  Bends raise the pitch of the note.  The amount of pitch change depends on the distance you bend.  Usually, you want to change the pitch by a half step or a whole step.  Sometimes you want to change it even more, but you’ll need some good calluses on your fingers for that!

Executing a Bend

  1. Fret the first note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. Without raising your finger off the fretboard, slide it vertically up or down (parallel to the fret).  Bend until you hit the target pitch, which is the second note.

When notating bends in tablature, it usually indicates how many steps to bend the note (example: 1/2, full, 1 1/2).  Since each 1/2 step is equal to one fret, you can test to make sure you’re bending the proper amount. For 1/2 step bends, bend the note until it’s the same pitch as next fret (ex: Bending the 10th fret bent a 1/2 step is the same pitch as the 11th fret).  For whole step bends (labeled full in tablature), bend the note until it’s the same pitch as the note that is two frets up.

Fretting the First Note of a Bend     Bending the Note

Bending Lick

 

Pre-bending

Pre-bending is performed by bending the note before plucking the string so the pitch of the bent note is sounded.  This is usually followed by a release (explained below)

  1. Fret the note.
  2. Push or pull the string vertically.
  3. Pluck the string.

Release

Releases almost always follow a pre-bent note.  Often, they follow regular bent notes as well.  Releasing is the act of returning to the unbent note without letting go of the string.  It’s done by reversing the bending process so you start with a bent note and end with a normal fretted note.

  1. Bend or pre-bend a note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. While continuing to fret the note, return the string to an unbent position.

Bending the Note     Releasing the Bend

Pre-bend and Release Lick

Sliding

Slides are executed on a single string.  You play a note then slide your finger up or down the fretboard to a second note without taking it off the fretboard.
Sliding up is in the direction towards the bridge (raising the pitch of the note).  Sliding down is the direction toward the neck (lowering the pitch of the note).

There are two types of slides: shift slides and legato slides.  They are the same except shift slides pluck the string again on the second note.  In my experience, most slides are legato slides.

In notation, both use a diagonal line to denote a slide.  Legato slides add a slur, which is a curved line that connects two notes.  It is means to play the two notes as smoothly as possible.  On guitar this means not to pluck the string again.

Executing a Slide

  1. Fret the first note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. Without releasing the string with the fretting hand, slide your finger up or down to the next note.
  4. If performing a shift slide, pluck the string again.

Note: in the exap

Fretting the First Note of a Slide    Fretting the Second Note of a Slide

Legato Slide Lick

Note: use your ring finger for the slide in the example so you can play the 3rd fret of the 2nd string easily.

 

Vibrato

If you ever watched B.B. King play, he has one of the best vibrato techniques out there.  He uses the ball of his hand (the joint where your finger attaches to your hand) as a pivot point so he can use his wrist muscles to pivot his hand while fretting a note.  This motion pulsates the pitch of the note.  You can emulate this sound with your voice by singing a note and pushing on and off your chest.

Executing Vibrato (Method 1 – Pivot Vibrato)

This type of vibrato mainly pulls the string downward as you pivot around the ball of your hand.  This is the most common form of vibrato and the easiest to execute.

  1. Fret the note.
  2. Pluck the string.
  3. While continuing to fret the note, pivot your hand back and forth around the ball of your hand.

     Vibrato

Executing Vibrato (Method 2 – Upward Vibrato)

Sometimes it’s hard to use the first method of vibrato because you are playing on the first string and pivoting pulls the string off the fretboard.  Pivot vibrato also fails when you want vibrato on an upward bent note (one whose string you pushed upward instead of downward).  Upward vibrato often uses your whole arm to create.

There are a two variations of upward vibrato.  The first variation uses the weight of the guitar and your arm movement from the elbow up.  The second variation uses your hand muscles to produce the vibrato.

Weight-based Upward Vibrato (or Arm Vibrato)

  1. On the back of the guitar neck, place your thumb near the bottom so more weight is placed on the fretting finger.
  2. Fret the note.
  3. Pluck the string.
  4. Like a bend, hold the fretted note but modulated up and down with your arm from the elbow down.  Sometimes the weight of the guitar can help you execute this type of vibrato.

Squeezing Upward Vibrato

This method is harder to get a fast vibrato, but it is sometimes used.

  1. On the back of the guitar neck, place your thumb near the top so you can easily squeeze the neck.
  2. Fret the note.
  3. Pluck the string.
  4. Squeeze your hand around the neck of the guitar and use your hand muscles to squeeze the note back and forth. This is similar to bending up and down quickly.

Vibrato

 

Conclusion

Different techniques give you different feels, but all of them are great for adding some interest to your playing.  Properly executing these seven techniques will allow you to form a solid base for any style of playing guitar.

Subscribe for Free Content, Tips, and More!

3 Reasons to Subscribe to the GLW Newsletter:

  1. Free Stuff! You'll get free content that is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers!
  2. Content tailored to you. Over time, I'll get to learn more about you and deliver content that motivates you to learn, play and be inspired!
  3. No spam. Just real content that's meant to make a difference in your playing

Enter your name and email, and you're on your way!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Hello again! You're already subscribed to the GLW newsletter. Thank you for being a part of the GLW community. If you have a question, just send an email using my contact page. I'd be happy to help!

1 Comment on 7 Beginner Guitar Playing Techniques

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


song 2 guitar lesson  how to pick guitar strings with fingers  come and get higher chords  g major scale chords  guitar chorss  did you know chords  what does capo mean in guitar  a major bar chord guitar  guitar lessons world  acoustic guitar labeled  building chords  g mixolydian chord progression  fret definition guitar  how to practice guitar chord changes  12 bar blues jam  how to practice modes on guitar  a flat on guitar  d# bar chord  basics of harmonics  circle of chords  perfect fifth guitar  order my steps chords  you and i guitar lesson  best alternate tunings  fingerstyle guitar books pdf  how do you play a on guitar  e minor pentatonic scale notes  how to read classical guitar tabs  flucking  8 bar chord progression  em7 5 guitar chord  guitar fingerpicking exercises  good fingering techniques  guitar notes standard tuning  6th string guitar notes  how to find intervals in music  what is a pentatonic scale on guitar  how to know key of song  guiter chords  basic guitar chords tutorial  b major scale tab  b scale guitar  music note reading  important guitar techniques  b dim chord  guitar finger tapping exercises  easy chords to play on guitar  plucking in guitar  how to build a minor chord  jimi hendrix tuning  flatpicking guitar lessons  5 pentatonic scale patterns  g7 bar chord  how to play guitar without reading music  f major 7 chord guitar  how to write a solo on guitar  how to play an am chord on guitar  how to understand tabs  guitar note finder  gb chord guitar  body name with picture  how many notes are in a scale  how to learn how to read music  all my mistakes chords  guitar neck chart  how do play the guitar  complete guitar chord chart  c m gitar  how to tune guiter  how to strum a guitar with your hand  i select  pentatonic scale guitar tab chart  2 chord acoustic guitar songs  a day to remember guitar tabs  picking notes on guitar  c minor arpeggio guitar  how many minor scales are there  how to do d minor on guitar  what determines the key of a song  how to read music beginners  drop d tuning tuner  easy way to remember treble clef notes  what does a music note look like  d chord progression  guitar chords with hand position  guitar scale positions  what is a 7 chord  basic acoustic guitar chords for beginners  a flat major 7 guitar chord  chords with notes  how to play g minor 7 on guitar  guitar string frequency chart  12 major scales in order  gcd chord progression  follow through chords  chord love on top  how to read guitar picking patterns  how to make ab chord on guitar  pentanic scale  c scale guitar tab  c minor relative chords  a bar chord guitar  work out guitar chords  whats my name chords  the dominant chord is represented by which symbol  notes in a scale  c augmented chord  i need you more guitar chords  why do guitars have frets  9 11 chord  blues turnaround  red house jimi hendrix lesson  blues scale in e  celtic tuning chords