Now were gonna have some fun with "Guitar Tricks". On this page you will become familiar with all the tricks and unusual sounding techniques used by rock and metal guitarists. With the exception of the last two, all the techniques that will be presented on this page may be performed without the use of effects. Your two hands, and an electric guitar and amplifier with some good distortion is all the equipment you'll need.
The first thing I wanna cover is all the ways to produce harmonics on the guitar. Harmonics are used by players like Edward Van Halen, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, George Lynch, just to name a few lol.
Natural harmonics occur along any string at the following fretboard positions: the fifth, seventh, twelfth, and nineteenth frets. To sound a natural harmonic at any of these frets, place one of your left hand fingers gently on the string directly above the fret. (Be sure not to place your finger before the fret, as you do when playing normally fretted notes.) Do not press the string against the fret. Sound the string as you normally do by striking it with a pick held in the right hand. If you use the perfect amount of pressure with your left hand finger, a bell-like chime should ring out. As soon as you hear this sound, remove your finger from the string. If the harmonic did not sound, you probably applied too much pressure.
All other techniques used to produce harmonics other than natural harmonics, are known as "artificial" harmonics. Let's take a look at all the different artificial harmonic techniques.
Pick Hand Harmonics
Place your left hand index finger at the third string, fifth fret. Upon picking the note, grip the pick in a manner so that the edge of your thumb is very close to the tip of the pick. You should barely be able to see the tip of the pick. Once the pick meets the string, your thumb should be so close to the tip of the pick that it touches the string immediately after the pick does. This will cause the string to produce what we call an artificial harmonic.
Experiment with pick hand harmonics all over the fretboard. If you have never used this technique before, don't expect to get it down right away. You'll need some time to develop the perfect touch between the flesh of your thumb and the tip of the pick. At first, you may experience a popping sound. That means you're on the right track. Hang in there, be patient!!
Light Touch Harmonics
Place one of you left hand fingers at any note located before the twelfth fret. Sound the note as you normally would by using the pick. Once the note has sounded, use your right hand middle or index finger, and gently touch the string exactly twelve frets above (one octave above) the fretted note. Do not depress the string against the fret with your right hand finger, just lightly touch it.
You may also use this technique five, seven, or nineteen frets above most notes. Due to the changes in string length caused by fretting notes at different positions, this technique may work better with some notes than with others, and in a few rare cases, may not work at all :-(
Place one of your left hand fingers before any note located before the twelfth fret. Using the middle or index finger of your right hand, tap the string so that it touches the top of the fret, exactly twelve frets above the fretted note. The right hand finger must be released from the string as soon as the string touches the fret. This is a very quick, sudden motion.
This technique can also be used to tap harmonics from each note of a chord that is held down with the left hand. Tap five, seven, twelve, or nineteen frets above each note in the chord.
Classical Style Harmonics
Place one of your left hand fingers at any note located before the twelfth fret. Using the index finger of your right hand, gently touch the string exactly twelve frets above the fretted note. Do not depress the string against the fret. Then use your right hand thumb to pluck the string. Release the thumb and the index finger of your right hand at the same time. Again, you may use this technique five, seven, or nineteen frets above most notes.
Applying Harmonic Techniques To Open Strings
Artificial harmonic techniques may be applied to open strings at the fifth, seventh, twelfth, and nineteenth frets, since harmonics occur naturally at these positions. Try tapping harmonics above any of those frets. You may also use the light-touch approach or the classical approach using any open string.
Harmonics Above The Rhythm Pickup
There is actually one more location where natural harmonics occur on the guitar. Most guitars have twenty-one or twenty-two frets. If the guitar contained twenty-four frets (some guitars do have twenty-four frets), natural harmonics would also occur above the twenty-fourth fret. On guitars that have twenty-one or twenty-two frets, there is a spot just above the rhythm pickup that can be used to simulate twenty-fourth fret harmonics. If you cannot locate this area right away, don't give up because it exists on every electric guitar. If your guitar does not have a rhythm pickup, try to imagine where a twenty-fourth fret would be located. Once you find this area, you may use it to apply all the harmonic techniques discussed so far.
Use alternate picking and pick any open string very fast. At the same time, place your left hand index finger gently on the string at a fairly high fretboard position (near the nineteenth or twentieth fret). Using a light touch, move your left hand finger along the string and down the neck, while continuing to pick very fast with your right hand. Be sure not to press the string against the frets while moving your left hand finger down the fretboard.
You may also move your left hand finger in the opposite direction - starting at the beginning of the fretboard and moving up the neck (toward the pickups).
Combining Multible Harmonics With A Left Hand Trill
Using the the first and third fingers of your left hand, execute a trill between the fifth string third fret, and the fifth string fifth fret. At the same time, touch the side of your right hand gently against the fifth string above the pickups on your guitar. Do not depress the srting against the frets. Using a light touch, move your right hand along the string and down the fretboard.
You may also move your right hand in the opposite direction (toward the pickups), or back and fourth along the string.
Using the middle or index finger of your right hand, start at the beginning of the neck, around the second or third fret, and slide your finger along the fifth string all the way up the fretboard. When you reach around say the nineteenth fret, pull-off from the string. just before you pull-off, the left hand index finger should start to slide up the fifth string from the beginning of the neck. When you reach high on the neck, pull off from the string. Just before you pull-off, the right hand finger should start to slide up the string as it did before. Keep repeating with both hands. You must be sure to start sliding with one finger just before you pull-off from the fretboard with the other finger. This technique may be used on any string or any combination of strings.
This is a technique used to raise the pitch of a fretted note without the use of a tremolo bar. The string yank is really effective when used with the trill. Use the index finger and pinky of your left hand to execute a trill between the second string twelfth fret, and the second string fifthteenth fret. While continuing to execute the trill, use two or three fingers from your righthand to grip underneath the second string and pull the string upward (toward the direction of the ceiling). be sure to grip the string before the twelfth fret.
Bending Behind The Nut
This technique is very similar to the string yank. however, bending behind the nut allows you the option of raising the pitch of open strings. Use the index of your left hand to execute a trill between the third string third fret, and the third string open. While continuing to execute the trill, use two or three fingers from your right hand to grip underneath the third string behind the nut and pull the string upward. Keep in mind that this technique can only be performed on a non-locking-nut guitar. Ex: Les Paul
Right Hand Behind The Left Hand Trill
Place the middle finger of your right hand at the third string, second fret. Use the index finger of your left hand to continuously hammer-on and pull-off at the third string, seventh fret. This will result in a trill between the third string, seventh fret and the third string, second fret. As your left hand index finger continues to hammer-on and pull-off at the seventh fret, move your right hand middle finger up to the fourth fret, and then up to the fifth fret. Keep moving your right hand middle finger back and fourth between the second, fourth, and fifth frets, as your left hand index finger continues to hammer-on and pull-off at the seventh fret.
If your guitar is not equipped with a tremolo bar, you can get a similat effect by turning the tuning keys to lower the pitch of any open string. Try doing this using the low E or A string.
Bending The Neck
This is another technique used to simulate the effect of a tremolo bar. Sound any open string, natural harmonic, or open string chord by picking it as you normally would. Very quickly, place your right hand on the top portion of the guitar body, just above the area where the body joins the neck. Then grip the headstock with you left hand. Exert pressure on the neck in a way so that your left hand pushes the headstock away from you, and your right hand pushes the guitar body toward you. Do not exert too much pressure because you can literally "break your neck" . Use this technique very carefully, because it is possible to damage your guitar.
Touch the side of your pick against the sixth and fifth strings, then move the pick along the strings and down the neck. You can also try scraping the pick against the fifth and fourth strings.
You'll get the best results with maximum volume and distortion levels. If you must sacrifice volume, keep your guitar at full volume and lower the volume on the amp.
Pick any fretted note and try to sustain it for as long as possible by using left hand vibrato. (Make sure to mute all the other strings with your right hand palm). At the same time, place your guitar directly in front of the speaker cabinet, so that the pickup faces the speakers. In a few moments, the note should start to feedback, and ring out with a nice singing quality to it. As the note continues to feedback, the sound will become less pleasant, resulting in a high pitched squeal that can be very offending to the ears. When this starts to happen, face the guitar away from the speakers. This will cause the feedback to subside, and the note will start to fade out. Before the note dies out completely, face the guitar toward the speaker cabinet again. the note should start to ring out as it did before.
When you use this technique, you can sustain notes for long periods of time. Try moving your guitar to different angles when facing the amp, and then you'll be able to get all kinds of different sounds.
Combined Vibrato And Volume Effect
Turn the volume on your guitar off completely. Then use one of your left hand fingers to employ vibrato to any fretted note. While continuing to execute the vibrato, slowly raise the volume on your guitar.
Using this technique, you'll be able to imitate the sound of a violin. Turn the volume control on your guitar off completely. Then position your right hand pinky in a way so that it rubs against the side of the volume control, allowing you to use the pinky to raise and lower volume levels. Sound any note as you normally would by picking it. Using your pinky, raise the volume level after picking the note, then turn the volume off again. Before you play another note, the volume must be off completely. Continue to play a series of notes, raising and lowering the volume level as you play each note.
Toggle Switch Effect
This technique can only be performed on guitars that have two pickups with with seperate volume controls. Turn the volume knob that controls the rhythm pickup off completely. Turn the volume knob that controls the treble pickup to full volume. sound any note, chord, or harmonic. Then move the toggle switch back and fourth between rhythm and treble pickup positions.
This is a technique in which the pick rolls across a number of muted strings, arriving at a non-muted note. Place your left hand index finger at the second string, eighth fret. Mute all six strings by placing your right hand palm against the strings near the bridge. While your palm rest against the strings, use a downstroke to strike the sixth, fifth, fourth, and third strings in one continuous motion, the pick should glide from one string into the next. Before the pick reaches the second string, lift your palm from the strings, allowing the second string to ring out loud and clear once you strike it with a pick. Use this technique leading up to any note played on the third, second, or first strings.
Adjusting The Tone Without A Tone Control
This technique isn't really considered a trick, but you may find it useful to know. You can change the tone of any note or chord, it all depends on where you pick the strings. The closer you pick toward the bridge, the more trebly and thin the sound will become. As you pick closer to the fretboard, or directly above the fretboard, the sound will become more bassy. Try strumming any chord very close to the bridge, then strum the same chord directly above the fretboard, near the nineteenth fret. You should hear a big difference in tone.
You will need a phaser to achieve the proper effect for this technique. Set the speed control on the phaser near zero, and the depth control (also termed "width" on some units) at full. Mute all the strings with the left hand by placing your fingers gently on top of all six strings. Do not depress the strings against the frets. While continuing to mute the strings with the left hand, rub your right hand palm papidly back and fourth across the strings near the pickups.
Set the manual, depth, and resonance controls on the flanger to a little more than half way up. Turn the rate control about one quarter-turn. Mute the strings with your left hand as described above, then rub your right hand palm slowly back and fourth across the strings near the pickups.
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