Guitar Playing

Info on most ways to play the guitar. Learn a few things, and maybe even improve your guitar skills.

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I realize that this is my first article, and I apologize to those who find this uninformative... I suppose that this is more for the inexperienced than the pros. Well, with that underway, let's get started.

The Basics

I think it fitting to start out with the basics first. We'll move on to the more complicated stuff later. Now, to start out with, we'll talk about chords. As you know, a chord is a combination of notes that harmonize with each other. Most songs are made up of different chords played in a consistent rhythm. The chords in a song will almost always have different strumming patterns than the others. Some may be fast, some might be slow. But chords aren't all of what makes up a song. Find simple songs or tunes to practice on. When you feel comfortable about that, move on to my next point.

Bends, Hammer-ons, etc.

Well, to make a song more interesting, use a couple of these. True to its name, a bend is when you play a note on the guitar and you bend it to make a higher pitched sound. Like the intro and chorus to Meant To Live by Switchfoot, they use bends to create the more swaying sound of the notes instead of the obvious made by hammer-ons. A hammer-on, by the way, is when you play a note/chord on the guitar but instead of bending it to make the higher pitched sound. "Hammer" your finger(s) on a fret above the original note/chord without plucking the string(s) and this makes a faster sounding, more complicated sound than the normal shift. In most solos and riffs, there are bends and hammer-ons, but also sliding movements. I won't even have to explain how to do this; just slide your finger up or down the fret board. Easy. A pull-off usually comes after a hammer-on; it's actually a backwards hammer-on. Instead of making the note higher by moving up the fret board, use your finger to pluck the string while another finger is behind it on the same string, to make a lower sound. To perform a vibrato, just put more and less pressure on the string with a good rhythm which slightly alters the sound of the note. Some guitars come with a whammy bar that does this for you. Harmonics and palm mutes are slightly alike, a harmonic is when you strum the strings openly, but you mute the strings with your left hand fingers. To palm mute, place your palm at the base of the strings, usually just above where the strings are held in place at the bottom. Strum it like this to give it a much different, but good sound.

Harmonizing

This is a great way to bring life into songs. As other articles have mentioned, there are different types of harmonizing. I won't go into that much detail, you can check all that out yourself. But this really spices up riffs and solos too. It's a bit harder if you've never done it before, but once you get the hang of it, it'll be worth using and practicing.

Multiple Guitars

Using more than one guitar is a definite way to make a song sound much better; it's playing two or more riffs at once instead of one. This is like an upgraded type of harmonizing. It takes time to learn your separate part with your friend(s), but that's how bands start. It's good to play along with friends, the better they are the better you'll be and vise versa.

Pick Honest Friends To Play With!

Don't be afraid to play in front of your friends. Demonstrating what you know to them will give them the idea of your style. The more honest they are, the more they can help you. Don't let them discourage you; they're just trying to help. Other people will be able to pick out your mistakes much easier than you can. Feel free to express everything you know, but be careful not to become boastful. Ask them they're opinion, they will help.

Rhythm

This is a very important factor while playing the guitar. If you have no rhythm, it will sound bad. That's just how it is. Try to have more patience, don't try to speed things up to make yourself look good because that will just make you look worse. Practice keeping time with your guitar metronomes will help you. Select what tempo the song you're playing is and play it keeping beat with the metronome. If you already have good rhythm, that's great. Oh, while playing with your metronome, don't speed the beat up or down than the beat of the song you want to play, you'll just be practicing what you're not supposed to do.

Soloing

This might be one of the most difficult and confusing types of playing. Solos pretty much consist of everything I've mentioned so far. Something that I haven't mentioned yet though, is the scales. Use scales to improve your speed and use scales to base solos on. It is much, much easier to play solos if you know the scales. I'm not an expert at this yet but it doesn't take much to figure out that the very big majority of solos are hard. You must be a very experienced player to understand that to take on a solo is a good way to make a fool of yourself if you're not careful. Please listen to me when I say don't do it if you know you haven't got it down. You won't impress a soul if you mess up on a solo you've been bragging that you could do. If you can, excellent! Get back at those guys who won't leave you alone and maybe impress a girl or two. If you're new at guitar, you're probably not going to be able to solo quit yet. It takes much practice; you have to get to know your guitar. Know how much pressure you must apply on the strings, how far you have to move to get your fingers to the right frets, know your scales, well, you get the point. In all, save soloing till you're more experienced.

Move Around!

It makes you look a lot better if you move your body with your fingers. It's not that hard to keep playing well while moving your legs, arms, and head. This is just an option, you don't have to actually do this, but it works. You'll look a lot better. Well, I leave you here. I really hope I helped you out, forgive me if I made a few mistakes, this is after all my first article. Well, my last word to you for now is: Practice!!

103 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Misfit66
    yeah, first. ok article dude, but pointless, but ot would be good for a beginner wif no previous knowledge. later days
    ozzyMYidol23
    hey this is awesome itz good for newbs to guitar playing cuz itz not to expressed and itz easy to understand i think that if i read this when i started i woulda been able to understand this stuff alot better back then but none the less itz a good article 5 starz
    bssunderground
    On moving around... I remember when I jammed live with an acoustic band I was in a sitting position playing, I was kinda trembling... I wanted to shake it off but my body movements were limited... I felt more comfortable standing-up via a strapped guitar... I can move freely to the song's groove, I can shake off any stage fright this way... moving around helps...
    Ihatemath2002
    its basically just definitions of each thing hes trying to explain. So if you want to know what a chord is read this article.
    emo_sk8r101
    i dunno watsw rong with evry1 its an excellent article if ur a begginer and have no1 to teach
    r_lightning
    aquaknight3: to those putting this down.. i wrote it for beginners and if you look at all the beginners' comments to this, you'll realize they liked the article just fine. sure i could have done better, and i told you i was sorry for any mistakes. if you dont like the article and think it was a waste of time reading it, then i think it would be an even bigger waste to write those comments.
    why did you even write this article and public it when you cant take any critics?? but to the topic; good written though.. but clearly this article also show us how low IQ you have. dont you understand why this article is pointless?! most of the people who really reads the UG's articles are experienced guitarist.. the newbies only check out the tabs.. somehow- you piss me off.. but fair enough, since you may put out some hard work and wrote this article to help the poor kids around, I'll give you a 5star
    SethMegadefan
    I'll give you a 4 for effort but a 2.5 for the actual material. I realize it was aimed at beginners and it's actually quite nice for your first article, but you could probably work more on not telling us what to put in our songs and what not to. Just a little suggestion I thought I'd make. But other than that I thought it was pretty good for your first article. Work harder on your next one and I'm sure it'll turn out fine.
    aquaknight3
    to those putting this down.. i wrote it for beginners and if you look at all the beginners' comments to this, you'll realize they liked the article just fine. sure i could have done better, and i told you i was sorry for any mistakes. if you dont like the article and think it was a waste of time reading it, then i think it would be an even bigger waste to write those comments.
    SacrificeMe
    i was hoping you would go over more correct techniques, you'd be surprised at how many people hold there pick ridiculously wrong
    crazynickman
    for beginners it good. lacks a bit but you're probably a beginner urself. those who r criticizing it need to chill, its the dudes first article. if the advice doesn't help you then shut up, it could help others. it was an honest effort and its not so bad. 3 stars
    Mute
    Alright for beginners... kinda left out a few things here and there (not explained as well as it could have been) and moving around has nothing to do with guitar playing. Who cares how you look, let your guitar skills impress people. You don't HAVE to strive to get into a band, that should be a whole different article.
    Solipsism
    This isn't a great article. It sounds as though you've scrambled jumble of tips and hints (that miss the mark anyway), induced by boredom or a need for appreciation, no matter what it takes. This is NOT an excellent article for beginners. Not convinced? Quote - "If you move your body you will look alot better." Now, isn't that a useful, effective tip for beginning guitarists? Never mind comfort and sensibility, just hurl yourself on stage and swing the guitar above your head, flailing your arms and genitals in the wind! "A pull-off is usually after a hammer-on" Hmmm... This doesn't require a slander, it really explains itself. I'm not trying to shoot great mounds of shit all over you, I'm just advising that you should only write articles once you have a certain amount of experience and knowledge on a topic. A scrotum with three hairs and an oil well on your face just isn't enough.
    TheUltimateSin
    Ok, you retards that are putting down this article simply because you already knew this, shut the hell up. If you already knew this stuff then why did you read the article? This article is well laid out and explains things well for starter-class guitarists. Beginners don't need to be getting into such detail right away. That's why they are called BEGINNERS. If you want a more advanced lesson description, then either make your own damn article for "advanced" players or take your useless, mindless bullsh*t remarks elsewhere because no one here wants to listen to that crap.
    onemanarmy9
    Being new to guitar (since I only bought my first one yesterday) this article did have some useful info, but not much, and most of it I knew (chords, what a harmonic was, I learned this from years of playing Trombone and doing theory). More explination of some of the tecniques would have been nice (example: playing harmonics and mutes). overall, not bad though
    imamusician16
    dan_the_pie: this was idiotic. how can your best example of a bend be from SWITCHFOOT!?!?!?! they suck just like this article did [POSTED: 06 August 2005 - 07:37]|
    he was using switchfoot as an example and it worked well. you knew exactly what song he was talking bout, eh?
    Saiteron
    im a n00b to guitar playing/performance so this article helped me alot i had no clue what a hammer on was bends, kinda self explanatory, but still useful to know exact definition the other stuff, with the exception of harmonizing, was also very useful to me overall, 4 stars good job, considering its a first article
    ruberducky
    im still a beginner this was great thanks. oh and dan_the_pie if SWITHFOOT sucked then i dont think they wouldn't be on UG but they are look it up! ..-ruberducky OOUUTT!
    wo0dst0ck69
    You guys it was a good article, you just gotta remember what audience its aimed at...
    SacrificeMe
    i was hoping you would go over more correct techniques, you'd be surprised at how many people hold there pick ridiculously wrong
    thedankle
    DorkusMalorkus: I don't think it was very useful even for beginners. It lacked way to much detail. You didn't explain how to create chords, if I were a beginner I still wouldn't know what a harmonic or pull-off was (how to do it correctly anyway) I give you 2 stars...sorry...
    when you are a beginner too much detail can be confusing!!!
    loz42
    vanceboy wrote: Nice attempt, but this stuff is really elementary...
    i agree completely yet beginners will appreciate learning some new techniques to look into
    Switchfoot555
    dan_the_pie wrote: this was idiotic. how can your best example of a bend be from SWITCHFOOT!?!?!?! they suck just like this article did
    Dood you gt to understand the true meaning of "Truth"in order to like switchfoot.That's all the lyrics are about.They don't say,"Every thing's ok."
    LamB_OF_goD
    Cream_n_Blues: pe te_mack: I've been playing for over 10 years and i can see this would have been a great article to read when i was starting out. that because your choice of music is crappy and you are indeed very fickle
    ya well unless ur a beginner u like cum cream guy
    TheUltimateSin
    fireman dan: ok dude wtf where u thinkin with this piece of shit if it wasnt common sense like... "Practice!"... it was shit like eh go look it up somewhere else... ****in duech
    Wow, that sentence was the most confusing thing I've tried to read. I have a suggestion for you: Next time you post, think. This may be difficult seeing as you seem to have trouble doing that, but give it a try.
    Alex10975
    Nice article, it will give some people the boost and hopefully answer some questions. For those of you bagging him out, leave him the hell alone, at least he wrote something.
    Alex10975
    nice work, great for people to learn some things from. And for those of you bagging him out, leave him alone, at least he wrote something. When you do, we will critcise that
    fireman dan
    ok dude wtf where u thinkin with this piece of shit if it wasnt common sense like... "Practice!"... it was shit like eh go look it up somewhere else... ****in duech
    EbolaMonkeh
    The notes of a chord don't have to "harmonize" with each other. A chord is just multiple notes played at the same time. It can sound ugly as hell and still be a chord. But aside from that, it's a decent article for beginning guitarists.
    johnmalkin
    Hey, stop badmouthing this guys article! He (or she) put his time and effort into writing this, and even if you didn't like it, someone else will. SO leave it.
    loz42
    vanceboy wrote: Nice attempt, but this stuff is really elementary...
    i agree complete but i guess it should give beginners some new techniques to look up and learn about
    ionlylookscary
    that was a good refrence cause everyone knows that song and you can hear it really well i was kinda bored during it but good job any who
    pytolk
    This article was great for begginers and others just starting out. 5 stars way to go
    aquaknight3
    Its ok to lower yout metronome when first llearning licks (especiallly leads)
    yes, I agree with that for learning them.. I meant not to actually practice them like that.. but yes, learn them any way you can, just make sure you can play it the correct way afterwards.
    TheUltimateSin
    ^I rest my case. Do not bother arguing with me over this. You are wrong and stupid for trying. If you think you aren't, refer to the underlined statement. [And my apologies for the double post]
    TheUltimateSin
    ^Yay, someone who understands and isn't a complete nimrod! Those of you who keep down-talking this article obviously can't read, or you would have seen this at the very top "
    I realize that this is my first article, and I apologize to those who find this uninformative... I suppose that this is more for the inexperienced than the pros.
    "
    kheng_wai
    Yeah guys seriously, give aquaknight3 a break. Ok so perhaps he forgot to add in other details such as scaling etc. But then again, why should he? This isn't at the "lessons" section, where all the how-tos are listed. Teaching scales would probably (somehow) lead to broken chords (appregios) and subsequently legatos, tapping etc. They may not be directly related but while describing appregios, he might think of something that leads to him describing legatos, serving to further confuse the beginners. From what I gather, he's just helping beginners take their first step forward. Somewhat giving them advice (as a past-beginner himself) and reassuring them that buying a guitar was one of the best choices they made so far. I seriously don't understand the flak's he's getting. I guess those who posted comments such as "pointless", "complete crap" etc must be guitarists with a minimum of 5 years experience, so what are you all doing here then? Go to some column which says "How to be a greater legend than Hendrix" rather than post your negative comments here.