Watch the Pitch Modulation online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission
As you can see I sometimes treat pitch like a little kid with a rubber band constantly stretching it in varying degrees. Whether it’s a traditional vibrato technique where the pitch wavers in and out of tune or those quick pulls, the overall delivery of what I’m doing sounds much more down to earth so to speak. It’s sounds are more real, gooier if you will and that’s important when you’re throwing down a truckload of complex rhythms at people, not to mention the players you’re playing with.
While the actual physical technique behind these 1/4-step pulls is not difficult—just literally pull the string ever so slightly at a rate that’s to be determined by you—there are some things to note about when I utilize them. More often than not I pull b7’s in melodies to give those notes a little something to counteract their unresolved quality. Also, I tend to hybrid pick those b7’s to give them a snappy attack (check out bar 6 for instance). Beginning in bar 11 I start to play some riffs and it’s important to focus on the restraint I display in regards to 1/4-step pulling. I place the pulls in spots where it feels right, which at times, is few and far between. At the end of the day, once you’ve got this concept under your fingers, it’s up to you to know when as well as when not to pull this hip trick out.
Some other off-topic techniques that lend a hand in making what I play sound the way it does here are palm muting low notes played on the wound strings, palm punches that are followed by open strings, pick to hybrid picked sequences within melodic ideas, and accelerated banjo rolls on the bottom portion of the F7 chords towards the end of the performance.