There are so many ways to play the exact same guitar melody. We can use our pick to play every single note or we can add in techniques to play notes without using our pick. These different techniques require a lot of practice but when you master them, they can make your playing sound effortless, smooth and very tasteful. Want to learn about these guitar techniques? Let’s jump right in!
Guitar Practice Routine
Many of the best techniques on guitar are simple in theory but can be difficult in practice. The trick to mastering these techniques is a good practice routine that results in quality time spent in the practice room. If you really step back to take a look at the fundamentals, you will see that a good practice routine makes the difference between good and bad technique.
For example, let’s jump into one of the most commonly known and played techniques on the guitar: The Hammer On
Getting Better at Hammer Ons
Hammer ons are very cool and can make or break the sound of a guitar melody. There are several tricks to make the perfect hammer on but one thing that I see most students do is assume that we have to hammer on IMMEDIATELY after we pick the first note.
This is not true! In fact, I challenge you next time you’re trying a hammer on to pick the note, wait for 2 seconds and then hammer on. If you can do the technique correctly, you will be able to leave more and more space in between. Why does that matter? Because we want consistency with all of our techniques and we don’t want to always play a really fast hammer on.
There are many other techniques that we can use to help smooth out the sound as well. Let’s take at another one of my favorite lead techniques, the slide!
How to Use Slides on Guitar
Slides can really help out with giving a guitar melody a smoother sound. Instead of hearing one note and then hearing the next, we hear a gradual ascending or descending sound between the original note and the target note.
Slides on guitar are pretty simple in theory right? We start on this note, slide through these notes and end on this note. Game, set, match! Except… it’s not that easy is it? My best advice is a little bit of the opposite of the hammer on. Speed here is crucial. Again, not necessarily right after we pick the note, but as your finger is traveling from point A to point B. In general, you don’t want to hear the notes in between point A and point B so speed during the journey will help you clean up your slides in no time.
Dedicating practice time to individual techniques is a very important part of playing the guitar well. We don’t just want to play them every now and then because it will take ages to develop good technique. Really sitting down and putting in dedicated time and effort into individual pieces of the guitar will help you build muscle memory so that in the future, you will be able to play the perfect slide naturally and without much effort.
Good Guitar Practice Techniques
If you want to get some good time in when you hit the practice room, it’s important to divide your time wisely. Starting with exercises or techniques is always a great way to get your fingers moving. Using techniques over a scale that you’re working on however is the creme de la creme!
In last week’s blog, we went over different ways to practice scales so that you can memorize them easier and faster. Using techniques over scales is a great way to kill two birds with one stone! That way you not only practice and memorize scales but you practice techniques over them effectively making you better at both simultaneously.
Try using hammer ons and slides throughout the scale and see what you think! Lots of times this can lead to the development of a really solid riff. In fact, let’s talk riffs really quick.
The Secret to Making the Perfect Guitar Melody
The secret to any awesome guitar melody is the technique behind it. Besides metal music, if we pick every single note of a melody, it will come with an attack-like sound. This can sound too technical and soul-less. If you exchange some of those picks for hammer ons or slides, it can really help smooth out the sound and give your melodies extra texture.
One of my favorite things to do is to play a guitar melody with as many different techniques as I can to see how the sound varies. Once I’ve found the sound I like, I stick with it and use those techniques moving forward. It’s such a fun exercise because it really makes you think about technique and the feel you’re going for instead of just the melody.
I hope that these tips help you out in your practice! To see more techniques broken down and explained more in-depth, check out my Free 5-Day Course that will help you become a better guitar player in just 5 days! All you need is an email address.
Now go grab that guitar and elevate your playing by putting in some good practice!