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8 Electric Guitar Techniques You MUST Know

These 8 free guitar lessons are from Chris Buono’s 60 Electric Guitar Techniques You MUST Know where he’ll describe and demonstrate 65 of the most popular electric guitar techniques found in blues, rock, jazz, metal and other contemporary genres of music. He also shows you how they’re notated in standard notation and tablature to help you get the most out of reading or writing sheet music, tabs, and charts.

For each of the 65 techniques in the handbook, Chris will first describe the method emphasizing why it’s important for you to know it. Chris will then demonstrate the technique, show you how the notation will look in standard notation and tablature, and give you some tips for practicing the technique.

Electric Guitar Technique #1: Brush Stroke

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An alternative to strumming with a pick is using your pick hand for a technique called brush strokes. The combination of a lighter touch and a less harsh material making contact with the strings equals a softer, more subdued effect when strumming chords with brush strokes.

Another, more advanced approach with brush strokes is playing octaves with your thumb. Look no further than the great Wes Montgomery or his predecessor George Benson for what is widely considered the ultimate approach to playing octaves this way. The resulting tone and phrasing potential is incredible when mastered.

Electric Guitar Technique #2: Hybrid Picking

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Hybrid picking is a technique that makes use of both the pick and the remaining pick hand fingers. On the surface, it’s more versatile than playing with just with a pick. Digging deeper, you’ll learn hybrid picking has the same, yet different mojo than fingerpicking as well. At the end of the day, this technique is a very powerful one that will enable you to play things that would be otherwise impossible. Be it oddly accented phrases to wide interval licks to more intricate chordal ideas, hybrid picking opens up in credible options.

Looking for inspiration? Start with Gustavo Assis-Brasil and try to be fair to anyone you listen to after that. Just about every player out there deemed as having great chops employs hybrid picking, but Gustavo is the guy who has everyone’s attention – even Tosin Abasi!

Be sure to check out my Guitar Gym: Hybrid Picking Workouts course for a collection of workouts to help get your hybrid picking technique up and running.

Electric Guitar Technique #3: Sweep Picking

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Sweep picking provides you with a more economical way to pick one-note-per-string or combos of one-note-per-string and two-note-per-string instances up and down the string register. Not to be confused with raking, the idea here is to fret and ring out every note clearly (no cheating!). To do this, it’s of paramount importance you approach this technique slowly and be very critical of each note’s clarity. When starting to sweep pick, start with a locked wrist and don’t be afraid the experiment with varying pick widths.

Looking for inspiration? Start with Frank Gambale and Tosin Abasi and go from there. Don’t forget our own Rusty Cooley as well. While you’re at it, be sure to check out my Guitar Gym: Sweep Picking course for a collection of workouts to help get your sweep picking technique off to a good start.

Electric Guitar Technique #4: Economy Picking

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Along with sweep picking, economy picking serves a more economical way to play single note ideas. It’s a form of alternate picking that calls for you to sweep the pick across strings when making your way to the next adjacent string. If you’re ascending, you sweep down and vice versa. They key is to make the motion have the same resistance sweep picking calls for while still utilizing a fluid alternate picking wrist approach. Just like most techniques, but with the same emphasis as sweep picking, you must start out slow and be mindful of the technique when starting to learn it. Be patient and work at it. It will come, and when it does – look out!

While you’re checking out Frank Gambale for sweep picking, keep in mind he may just well be the ultimate economy picker. Players that aspire to an Allan Holdsworth-level legato technique are commonly masterful economy pickers as well.

Electric Guitar Technique #5: Pinch Harmonics

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Anytime you hear a screaming or raunchy sounding harmonic by way of loads of gain come jumping out of your speakers, it’s likely a result of pinch harmonics. Pinch harmonics follow the same basic idea of harmonics, except this time the contact is made with the skin of your pick hand thumb right after picking a note. Where you do this determines the pitch of the harmonic.

Looking for inspiration? It’s safe to say the guitar player who’s had pinch harmonics heard ’round the world more than anyone else is Billy Gibbons. With so many other players making use of this technique, props go to Tool’s Adam Jones for some of the most smartly placed pinch harmonics these ears have ever heard.

Electric Guitar Technique #6: Two-Hand Tapping

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Two-hand tapping AKA Emmett Chapman technique involves both hands tapping single notes (less often) or chordal (more often) instances. Even if you’re experienced tapper of one or more approaches, two-hand tapping is a whole new world. Keep in mind your pick hand will need time to develop compared to your fret hand, which by default has had a massive head start on fretting notes.

Looking for inspiration? Right from the get-go, the de facto heavyweight champ is Stanley Jordan. However, with the proliferation of the tapping culture, more and more players are coming out with incredible two-hand tapping techniques such as Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young, and the incredible glitch tapping technique from Josh Martin of Little Tybee.

Electric Guitar Technique #7: Whammy Bar Vibrato

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Another way to apply vibrato is by way of the whammy bar, AKA the vibrato arm. This comes especially in handy when you’re fretting high on the neck in areas where it would be difficult to apply finger-based vibrato. Another instance is bending. Some players find it more comfortable as well as stable to use the bar while holding a bend steady to ensure better overall intonation.

Looking for inspiration? Alex Lifeson. “Limelight”. End of story. Well, not really. You really want the end all, be all? Jeff Beck. Anything. Done.

Electric Guitar Technique #8: Wah-Wah

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It’s safe to say a wah-wah pedal will be your first stompbox if it’s not already. The wah is a sweepable fixed bandwidth filter that has a treadle you rock back and forth producing vowel-like inflections. The phrasing possibilities are only limited by the player. These days, you have an array of major as well as indie pedal builders who make incredible wah pedals such as Dunlop, Vox, Fulltone, Teese, Xotic, and Wilson Effects.

Looking for inspiration? How do you not start with a guy nicknamed Wah Wah Watson? Melvin Ragin has played a wah-wah pedal on a dizzying array of recordings since 1970, starting with The Jackson 5’s “ABC”. Ironically, W.W.W. did not play on “Shaft” – that was a guitar player named Charles “Skip” Pitts.

Dig these 60 Electric Guitar Techniques? Download Chris Buono’s 60 Electric Guitar Techniques You MUST Know for much more including tab, notation, and jam tracks!