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Aug 23, 2019
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Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

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Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

To put these electric guitar techniques to use, you need an amp or effects pedal that can layer your tone with some gain or distortion. This is more a rock-orientated lesson, as the other lessons in the rhythm guitar section deal with a wider spectrum of genres.

When using gain and/or distortion, you have to change the way you play your music, if only because distortion muddies up chords and phrasings that would usually sound beautiful played clean.

That’s where the “power chord” comes in. To improve your power chord precision, go to the lesson page Right Here, otherwise, stick around for some classic electric guitar techniques.

Electric Guitar Techniques – Classic Rock & Open Position

Open position chords are often the first chords you learn, but with distortion or gain effect, you will find Major or minor chords (or their modifications) sound, well, somewhat messy. This is because the note responsible for the chord being Major or minor (the “3rd”) not harmonically “stable” – it creates a wavering effect.

To get cleaner sounding, more defined open chords you can use a method Angus Young from AC/DC used a lot (and many others to be fair) which is to block out the 3rd in the chord. Below are the 5 open position chords with the major or minor note blocked out.

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

The X marks the blocked out string that would usually be there for a regular major or minor chord. The result is smoother and clearer sounding chord changes…

This technique is used a lot in rock for the reasons above and it makes the music sound more… serious.

Electric Guitar Techniques – Climbing in Key

Another common electric guitar technique is to start in a regular chord shape and move part of that shape up the freeboard, in scale, to create a unique effect.

If you start with an A power chord, for example, you can keep the open root note string of A the same while you move part of the shape around and experiment with maybe just two movable strings up the freeboard…

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

Very simple, but effective, and by grounding the root note while you are moving around the fretboard, you’re creating a very different sounding progression to the usual “move everything in unison” technique.

You are free then to add some lead guitar fills within that key – good if you’re the only guitarist in the band or just practicing on your own!

Electric Guitar Techniques – Mixing it Up

Rhythm guitar and rock are not all about power chords and big chunky riffs. You should also consider the use of single notes, single strings to travel through your progressions more freely.

Simple lead guitar fills between the chords can act as links that the human ear responds well to – it’s like being lead through a journey… kind of.

Take a listen to the sample below 

If you’re unsure, the / and \ symbols on the tab mean “slide up” or “slide down” respectively.

Also, h stands for “hammer-on” where you hit down on the string with your fretting finger to sound the note without having to pick it.

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

Aerosmith used this technique to perfection (before they lost it..!!!) The guitars played with single-string riffs as though they were links between the power chords.

So try to play around with simple lead guitar fills to liven up your riffs. There are not any “rules” for that. 

Electric Guitar Techniques – The 2 String Bar

This is crossing over into lead guitar, but this style of playing would be a useful addition to those fills we have been talking about.

The most basic chord possible, a power chord, consists of the root and fifth notes. If you barre your fingers vertically across just two strings as shown in the diagram below, you get a sharp, punchy playing effect that really compliments rock and blues styles…

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

So you would almost play this like a lead guitar riff, using all your fingers where necessary but fretting two strings instead of one.

Index and ring fingers are most commonly used for such riffs, you just have to make sure you don’t hit 3 strings by accident by learning to apply the right amount of fretting pressure.

Electric Guitar Techniques – More Intricate Playing

The examples above have all been much-defined ways of playing, but there are ways to get more intricate with your distorted riffs without sounding like a wall of noise or mush.

Arpeggios can be used (a method of playing each string in a chord separately) and this will be covered more in the lead guitar section, but in the example below you will see how simple arpeggios can fit into a riff nicely.

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

The use of actual chords in that example is minimal. Instead, to create a different musical effect we have used simple arpeggios and one-string-at-a-time playing to get the melody across.

Here’s another similar arpeggio which sounds good with palm-muted strings to add a lively rhythmic tone…

Essential Electric Guitar Techniques

Start slow, and build to YOUR desired speed depending on the tempo of your song.

The finger pattern goes middle, index, and pinky

That’s actually a good warm-up for you to do for 5-10 minutes when you pick up the guitar. Learn to move around the fretboard with single-string riffs that make up chords – the first 3 notes in the diagram above make up the A Major chord. You can take any chord, look at where the notes positioned and shape an arpeggio around it!

So there are some classic electric guitar techniques for you to experiment around with. Hope you got something valuable out of this!

Use the links below to take you where you want to go next!

Learn How to Read Guitar Tab

Guitar Picking Techniques

Guitar Chord Progressions

Article Categories:
Guitar Lesson
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I am a leader of the music band and playing the instrument of keyboards, I have ear about song notes and chords, usually, i tried help to others like music,

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