There are many techniques which are possible on the guitar. Here you can find descriptions to various of these techniques, and a library of different techniques to enlighten the possibilities of your instrument.

Picking Styles

Finger picking: Style of picking in which the strings are plucked or strummer with nails, or flesh of the fingers, as opposed to using a flat-pick or plectrum.

Picking with plectrum: Style of picking in which the player uses a plectrum, or flat-pick to pluck the strings.

Hybrid picking: Hybrid picking is the mix of both finger picking and picking with a plectrum. When the plectrum is held in an efficient way, three fingers should be free to be used for finger picking.

Expression Techniques

Bending: Technique in which the string is pulled up or down as it is fretted and ringing, which raises the pitch of the note.

Sliding: Technique in which a finger is slid from one fret to another creating a smooth raise or decrease in pitch of the note. The notes must be fretted along the sliding motion.

Vibrato: This technique creates a change in pitch giving notes a more vocal like essence.

Natural Harmonics: Bell like harmonics, caused when lightly touching and plucking strings in the 12th, 7th, 5th frets. This is the easiest way to explain it, but it can happen in any fret…it happens at any point that divides the length of the floating strings evenly. If you use a capo for example, the points at which the harmonics show up will change

Artificial Harmonics: This is another type of harmonic which allows achieving harmonics for pretty much every note on the fretboard. This type of harmonics are done by picking a string while quickly deadening changing the vibration length. To do this a light touch on the picking side right after the note is picked is done. A pinch harmonic is the easiest method, and this way the user picks the string and in the same motion in which the string is being picked, the tip of the thumb featherly picks the string as well.

Pick Scraping: The name is pretty self explanatory. To perform this technique the user passes/slides the pick accross single or multiple strings, as in an attemp to scratch them, which is the type of sound this makes. This scratching sound works beautifully when used correctly.

Legato Techniques

Hammer ons: Just as the name says, in this technique you “hammer” your fretting finger “onto” the note and fret you want to hear. Through this technique you could even play without any picking, or you may pick the first note on a given string and hammer on the rest. This technique is used for its smooth sound in comparison to picking every note. Other people just use it cause they have difficulty picking every note. Use it for tone, not for lazyness.

Pull offs: This technique is the opposite of the hammer on. It is going from a fretted note position and pulling the finger off the string and fret to create make the string ring.

Legato trills: This is the combination of really quick hammer ons and pull offs. You only pick the first note or no note, and then you hamer and pull another fret withing the same string.

Tapping: This technique is similar to hammer ons and pull offs. It could even be argued, in saying they are the same as the only difference is it is the picking hand that does the hammer ons and pull offs, if not both hands.

Pick tapping: This is the same as tapping, but in this case the side of the pick is used to tap the notes on the frets. This allows for really fast “trills”.

Legato inverse muting: This technique is really good for achieving the cleanest legato posible in high gain situations. Some considering cheating, I say its a great tool, for it makes the sound in some cases extremely clean. In this muting technique you mute the strings with the picking hand, by placing the picking hand close to the nut of the guitar, usually in the 1st fret or so muting the strings. The fretting hand, does the legato runs.

Picking/Strumming motions

Rakes: Really cool technique in which a muted chord is strummed. It adds a whole percussive dimension.

Down picking: The most natural form of picking with a plectrum, or flat-pick. Although slower than other techniques, it is the best for an aggressive tone. On really fast riffs, where one may use other techniques, the added aggressiveness in the tone, may make this technique worthy in spite of the extra work.

Economy picking: Picking technique in which up and downstrokes are combined in order to achieve the least movement possible.

Alternate picking: Alternate picking is a technique in which the picking hand picks through various up and down strokes. At the beginning it feels more natural to do a downpick for every note. With alternate picking, you get much more speed you can pick a note as you go back up for the next down-stroke.

Tremolo picking: This technique is what is called when an individual note is picked repeatedly…usually at high speeds. Many guitarists tend to do this picking motion in a manner that is as fast as they are capable. That sounds good enough, however, I recommend you have full control over what you are doing every time. So avoid picking as fast as possible if your hand is just vibrating like mad and out of control. When using a plectrum/flat-pick, the picking motion is the same as it is for alternate picking. For finger picking, depending on the style of the guitarist 2 or 3 fingers are usually used, while the thumb usually plays a bass note on the meanwhile.

Sweep Picking: Considered by many to be the hardest basic technique. Sweep picking is a very hard technique to learn to play cleanly, however, it is just that way cause it is a completely different way of picking the notes. This way requires a lot of coordination betweeing both hands. Its similar to a slow strumming motion. The diference is that as you pick each string, you have to let go of the note fretted on that string. And as you go to the next string the previous string should be muted with the palm to prevent any noise. Don’t feel intimidated, it is just a matter of getting used to.