So you’ve been practicing for a while and now you’ve gotten a basic mastery of the fundamentals of guitar and rudimentary guitar techniques. Where do you go from here? Now it is time for you to use your basic skills and graduate to some more advanced guitar techniques. Listen to a band like the Allman Brothers Band, or Blue Oyster Cult. You might think that it is sheer wizardry that is causing them to make these sounds come out of their guitars and you may wonder if yours is broken because it doesn’t create any sound close to that. You might be surprised to find that some of their ‘wizardry’ is simply the use of a few guitar techniques that aren’t very complicated.
A slide is exactly what it sounds like. Place your finger on the high E string (the bottom string from where you are looking). Hold your finger on the string and pluck it. Then, while keeping your finger firmly pressed down, slide it to the seventh fret. Not a bad sound, is it? Then do the same, but in reverse, from the seventh fret back to the first. This process is called sliding. Listen for it, and you’ll find it sliding nearly in all kinds of music. It adds a nice flair. Some players will slide from one fret to the next, instead of striking the guitar twice and making two distinct notes.
When you hear several notes being pounded out incredibly fast, you may wonder if Satan himself is playing the guitar. Normally, it is one of the two most often used guitar techniques known as hammer-onsand pull-offs. A hammer-on is when you have your finger on a fret and tap your next finger on another fret. It continues the notes without you having to strike the same string again. A pull-off is simply the reverse of a hammer-on. If you strike a string with your finger on the third fret, and release the third fret with your other finger on the second or first fret, you have performed a pull-off. Often, these two guitar techniques are used in tandem, with the player repeatedly hammering on and pulling off in order to create a barrage of notes at an almost inexplicable speed.
Bends are another way to take your guitar techniques to the next level. When you hit a note, you put a finger on a certain fret and strike the corresponding string. It makes a good sound, but a true virtuoso knows that that is only the beginning. If you strike the string with your finger on a certain fret, and then use your finger to push that string up towards the ceiling, this is known as a bend. Try it. You’ll recognize that wail in nearly every rock song you’ve ever heard. The idea of bending is that you make the note you hit sound like the next note on the scale, without having to go to that note, but bends simply make music sound COOL. Adding little guitar techniques like these will greatly improve the sound of your playing.