Guitar Tricks: 23 Secrets Every Guitarist Should Know

Looking for some pro guitar tricks to spice up your guitar playing? You’re in the right place my friend!

guitar tricks

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 23 quick and easy guitar tricks, including palm muting, harmonics, and super-cool slides.
  • How to get the perfect guitar tone.
  • The no1 secret that will enhance your musicality.
  • 4 essential tips for the gigging musician.

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Guitar Tricks #1 Volume Swells

This technique is used to create ambience and suspense within your music.

To do a volume swell hammer on a note with your left hand, whilst gradually turning up your guitar’s volume pot.

This creates a large swooshing effect from your guitar. This sounds fantastic when you put you loads of delay and distortion on your guitar sound.

Watch this video to learn how to do a volume swell:

Read this article to learn some similar techniques: How To Play Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

Guitar Tricks #2 Pick Slides

Pick slides are a useful guitar trick to know, so turn up the distortion on your amp and experiment with this cool ‘cutting’ sound.

This technique creates tension and is a great way to kick into a epic guitar riff!

Give it a try! Scrape the side of your pick along the edge of your low E string.

Watch this video to see this killer technique in action:

Remember, you can do this in either direction! Try scraping down, and then up, on the low E string.

Guitar Tricks #3 Double Stops

Double stops are a fun and easy way to add interest to a guitar solo. A double stop is when you play two notes together.

If you use a regular minor pentatonic scale, you can play a double stop on the:

  • 5th fret of the G (3rd string) and B string. (2nd string.)
  • 7th fret of the G (3rd string) and B string. (2nd string.)
  • 8th fret of the G (3rd string) and B string. (2nd string.)

Try and mix and match between these frets to add variety to your guitar solos.

To learn more about guitar scales, go here:Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.

Guitar Tricks #4 Using Your Tone Knob

The tone knob changes the overall sound of your guitar.

When the control is all the way up, your guitar becomes bright and glassy.

When it is turned off, your guitar will sound warm and soft.

If you crank up the distortion when your tone knob is off, your guitar will turn into a fuzz monster!

guitar tricks

Experiment with the position of the tone knob, there are hundreds of different sounds to be found.

Guitar Tricks #5 Vibrato

Vibrato technique is a great way to add shimmer and sophistication to your playing.

Vibrato is when you wobble the string back and forth.

Watch this video to learn how to do this essential lead guitar technique:

To learn more lead guitar techniques, go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Guitar Tricks #6 Using Your Whammy Bar

Using the whammy bar can add excitement and intensity to your guitar playing.

The whammy bar can be used to:

  • Create aggressive sounding dive bombs.

Play a chord or note and immediately push your whammy bar all the way down. If done correctly your guitar will sound like a roaring engine!

  • Gently push your whammy down when you play a note. 

This creates a small amount of movement and can add character to your guitar solos.

To watch this technique in action, check out this video whammy bar virtuoso Jeff Beck:

Guitar Tricks #7 Pinch Harmonics

Pinch harmonics are a great way of adding flair and fury to your guitar playing.

To do a pinch harmonic:

  • Pick a guitar note.
  • Turn your picking hand away so that the fleshy part of your thumb brushes the string.

Your note should squeal when you do this.

Guitarists such as Dimebag Darrell, Joe Satriani and Zakk Wylde use this technique frequently.

guitar tricks

Want awesome free lessons from the world’s best online guitar school? Go here: Learn Guitar Online: Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Lesson Programmes

Guitar Tricks #8 Natural Harmonics

Natural harmonics are a fun and easy way to make your guitar sound like a harp.

You can play natural harmonics on the 5th, 7th and 12th frets on any string.

  • To play a natural harmonic, hover your fretting hand directly over the fret. You should be lightly touching the string.
  • Don’t add too much pressure as this will dampen the note.
  • Finally, pick the string which you’re hovering over.

You can do this technique on ANY string. Just make sure you over the 5th, 7th or 12th fret.

guitar tricks

Guitar Tricks #9 Behind The Nut Bends

This quick and easy guitar trick is SO cool.

  • Play your low E string. As it rings out, push this string down behind the nut.
  • Do this technique with your left hand.
  • You should hear the string change in pitch.

This guitar trick sounds fantastic with loads of distortion and can be heard in Black Sabbath’s song ‘Iron Man’, watch it here:

Guitar Tricks #1o Creating Percussive Sounds On Your Acoustic

A great way of adding variety to your guitar playing is to treat your acoustic as a drum.

Watch Andy Mckee master this technique in this video:

The idea behind this is that you can use certain parts of your guitar to emulate specific drums.

  • Firstly, clench your fist and use the heel of your hand to tap the lower body of your guitar.
  • If done correctly, it will make a loud booming sound, similar to a bass drum
  • After your comfortable with this, tap the rest of the body with your finger tips, this can emulate a snare drum.

To get used to this technique, try playing a famous drum beat on your guitar.

‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen would be great fun.

Guitar Tricks #11 Descending Harmonics

This technique is very similar to playing ‘Natural Harmonics’. However this time, instead of focusing on a specific fret, you’re going to:

  • Hover over any string. (Make sure you’re lightly the string.)
  • Pick the note.
  • Then gradually slide your fretting hand down the length of the guitar string as you pick.

This works particularly well when you use the technique on the low E strin, make sure you use loads of distortion on your amp.

As you move down the string you should hear a range of different harmonics ring out.

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Guitar Tricks #12 Guitar Slides

Guitar slides add maturity to your guitar playing. Sliding technique consists of striking a note, and then immediately sliding into the next one.

Watch this video to find out how to play this exciting lead guitar technique:

For more lead guitar techniques go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Guitar Tricks #13 Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are a great way of adding dynamics to your playing.

To play a hammer-on:

  • Pick a note, and then hammer your finger down onto the next note.

To play a pull of on the guitar:

  •  Pick a note, but instead of hammering on to the next, you pull off instead.

Check out this video to learn more about this essential lead guitar technique:

For more lead guitar techniques go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Guitar Tricks #14 Create Feedback

Warning! This one will annoy the neighbours!

Creating feedback can be tricky, however with the right amp settings it is possible.

Here are some amp settings which will get you into feedback heaven:

guitar tricks Here are some cool tips to help you create awesome feed back:

  • Dime the mids on your amp.

This frequency is where your guitar lives, so if you have plenty of ‘mids’ on your amp, your guitar will feedback naturally.

  • Add more volume than gain.

To create awesome feedback, you need to have more volume than gain. Sometimes if you have too much gain your sound get mushy. Creating feedback is about being LOUD!

  • Use your neck pickup  and hit a strong note and try and sustain for it as long as possible!

You can use your bridge pick up or your neck up, however the neck pick up is better for long sustaining notes.

Guitar Tricks #15 Palm Muting Techniques

A fantastic way to add low end chug to your guitar playing is to palm mute your guitar strings.

This technique is used ALL the time in rock and metal music and sounds fantastic.

  • Firstly, pick a chord.
  • When you pick this chord, place the side of your picking hand towards the bridge of your guitar.
  • Finally, pick your chord whilst muting it with your palm.

Hopefully your chord should now sound slightly muted and chunky.

Check out the beginning of ‘All My Life’ by the Foo Fighters. This is a great example of palm muting.

To learn more about palm muting, go here: Palm Muting: An Essential Guide

Guitar Tricks #16 Creating A Kill Switch

This technique is used to create a ‘stutter’ effect.

This works great on a Gibson style guitar as they have volume controls for both pickups.

To do this:

  • Roll your bridge pickup volume control completely off.
  • Play a chord.
  • Flick your pick up switch between the bridge pick and the neck pick up.

This creates a cool stutter effect which can be used to great effect!

Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine takes this technique to the extremes in ‘Know Your Enemy’.

Download a free beginner chord guide and learn easy versions of every chord

 Say goodbye to frustration and twisted fingers. Say hello to MAKING MUSIC.

  Learn beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is one of our most popular guides and will improve your chord ability quickly. Click here to download the guide.

 

Guitar Tricks #17 Experiment With Different Pickup Selections

Experimenting with different pick up combinations can have a fantastic effect on your guitar sound.

Playing on the bridge pick up on your guitar adds extra aggression to your sound where as using the neck pick up creates a smooth, velvet like tone!

Using different pick ups can inspire you in different ways.

guitar tricks

Guitar Tricks #18 String Bending

A great way of adding extra character to your playing is to use string bending! String bending is when you bend the string up or down with your fretting hand. This raises the pitch of the note.

Here are a few tips for string bending:

  • Make sure you bend from your wrist, NOT from your fingers.
  • Use more than one finger to bend. The more fingers the better.
  • Play the note you want to bend up to before attempting to bend up to it. (It’s important to get the sound of the required note in your ears first.)
  • Once you’re ready then try and bend your strings!

Check out this video to learn more about string bending:

For more lead guitar techniques go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Guitar Tricks #19 Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is the easiest way to play fast on guitar

The idea behind alternate picking is to do a down and up stroke on each string. Here are a few tips which will turn you into a alternate picking monster:

  • When you alternate pick, try and use small movements from your wrist. The smaller the movement the faster you can go.
  • Be nice and relaxed, there should be no tension in your picking hand.
  • As you pick the note, try and push through the string as you do a down stroke, and the pull the pick back over as you do an up stroke.

For more guidance on alternate picking, watch this video:

Want to learn more about alternate picking? Check out this lesson: Alternate Picking

Guitar Tricks #20 Use Strap Locks

If you’re a gigging guitarist, it’s vital that you use guitar strap locks.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than playing a live concert, and having your guitar fall right off of your shoulders. Make sure you get some decent strap locks.

We recommend schaller strap locks, check them out here.

guitar tricks

Guitar Tricks # 21 Hook Your Lead Through Your Strap

We’ve all been there, you’re about to take a killer solo, then just as the moment comes your guitar lead falls out of its socket.

It’s embarrassing, and not much fun for the audience to watch.

Here’s a simple tip you can use to stop this happening.

Hook your lead through your strap. Your lead should come through your strap, right past your strap button and then into your guitar input.

Guitar Tricks #22 Make Sure Your Tuner Mutes Your Guitar

One of the worst things you can do at a gig, is tune your guitar out loud. There’s nothing less rock and roll than tuning with your amp on full blast.

Make sure you get a tuner pedal which completely mutes your guitar.

For more info on guitar tuners, go here: How To Tune A Guitar: A Guide For Beginners

Guitar Tricks #23 Don’t Tune When Getting On Stage

Tune up before you go on stage.

It can be so anti-climatic for an audience member when they see a band come on stage and then it takes them five minutes for them to tune up.

Tune up before you go on and be ready to rock.

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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