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Why is it that you simply love listening to a particular person’s guitar playing while just acknowledging another person though they may be equally experienced? What sets them apart?

Apart from being a genius, there are few basic skills which can be mastered to notch up your guitaring skills. I see beginners avoiding these easy techniques thinking it is very difficult to master it which is actually not the case. Wet your hands in it and you will realize how easy and rewarding it can be.

The Hammer-On Technique

This is how you will see it in notations: 5h6, 2h4

Hammer-On techniques sounds very pleasing when done correctly. Considering the above example, keep your index finger on the 5th fret of any string and play it once. Then instead of playing the 6th fret normally, hit your middle finger on the 6th fret hard enough so that it sounds distinctly from the 5th fret. Do not let the finger up! There you go, you just did a Hammer-On. You can use your other fingers to hammer other frets as well. But they have to be on the same string for best sound.

Wasn’t that easy? As you might have already deduced, the first number has to be smaller than the second one in the notation. If it isn’t then you can be sure its…

The Pull-Off Technique

Here’s how its represented: 7p5, 4p1

This is just the reverse of what you did earlier and equally easy to execute. In this case you have to ensure that your fingers are in position before you do a pull-off.

Lets take the above example. Ensure one of your fingers is on the 5th fret and the corresponding finger is on the 7th fret of the same string. Play the note and immediately pull-off the finger resting on the 7th fret so that the 5th fret note is heard. It’s not at all difficult if you practice a bit. Soon it will be as easy as playing normal notes.

Combining Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

The above two effects can be combined for even better sounding effects. Combined effects are notated this way: 3h5p3, 6p5h6

Looks complicated? But it is very easy to play. First play the 3h5 part as explained above. Once you have hammered on the 5th fret, quickly pull-off your finger to play second effect 5p3. This is usually done fast so that it does not take more than a single delay. In mathematical notation:

3h5p3 = 3h5 + 5p3


6p5h6 = 6p5 + 5h6

Pretty easy, huh?

The Bend Technique

This is the hallmark of an electric guitar but you can still practice it on your acoustic one albeit in a limited way. As the name suggest, you bend the strings upwards so that a layman watching you might think you are frustrated with your guitar.

Bending is represented thus: 8b10r8

‘b’ represents bend and ‘r’ represents the release of the bend. You press hard on the 8th fret and bend the strings upward to match with the 10th fret pitch and then release it to get back to the 8th fret pitch. It will require more practice than the previous effects.

To support the bend, you should use your other fingers on the 6th and 7th fret as well. Also, the bend should not be from bottom to top, it should be angular. What I mean is your fingers should be approximately 45 degrees with the fretboard. This ensures you use your pam muscles instead of finger muscles which can be painful.

The Sliding Technique

Sliding in another technique unique to stringed instruments. It is represented using a ‘/’ or ‘\’. Here is an example: 3/8, 6\4

Sliding is easy to do and sounds very cool. Hold any finger on the 3rd fret of any string and slide it over the string up to the 8th fret without losing contact with the string. Moving from lower to higher fret is forward slide and the reverse is called reverse slide. This is the easiest technique of all.

The Vibrato Technique

Vibrato is represented in notations like this: ~~ or v

You keep a finger on a particular fret and move your finger sideways parallel to the guitar neck in a to and fro motion to produce the vibrato effect. It is important to trust your ears rather than notations to use the vibrato effect. Many celebrated guitarist have a signature vibrato unique to them which set them apart. So learn it, practice it and imbibe it in your guitar playing to dazzle the listeners!


Muting is represented by a simple x. It means you do not have to play that fret or hold the string lightly enough to mute it. The strumming of Dil Ko from RHTDM uses muting to a nice technique.

That’s all the basic techniques every guitarist must know. Always try to recognize these effects in various songs and music. Playing solos without them is insulting the piece itself!

What do you think about these techniques and how regularly do you use them in your daily guitar practice?

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