"Feel Like You're Hitting A Brick Because of That Trick?"
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Jordan Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.

I would like to start this week's newsletter by sending out a huge thank you to all of you who took the time to fill out a contest entry form. The feedback was unbelievable and I am incredibly impressed with many of your ideas! You'll hear more about our winner later on in the article.

I'm also pleased to announce the new addition of video! Luckily, we were able to pull it together for this article and now you can see, hear and watch!

In this edition:

One of the most popular questions I receive are in the form of "How do I play this?" This week's article is going to show you! Learn how to do hammer on's, pull off's , palm mutes and trills. We'll also cover things like artificial harmonics.

There's so much information evolving around techniques that I've decided to break it up into two newsletters, one dealing with rhythm and one dealing with lead. In this article we'll dive into the tricks of playing lead guitar as we will be using them when we switch over to rhythm.

You'll also get to see some more acoustic guitar incorporated into the newsletter, as many of you have requested it.

Check out our latest edition of our newly implemented, "Guitar Tips Feature Band." This month we have a real gem for you that you are sure to enjoy. They are known as the Darla & Rich Quintet and you'll hear all about them later on in the newsletter.

Learn more about the winner of our latest contest who had a shopping spree at Guitar Trader. She'll tell her story and what it means to her.

We also have plenty of great comments in our Feedback Booth. With all of that in mind, lets get right to it!

Seek Better Technique...

Building a foundation.

Remember when you picked up your new guitar for the first time? It was like love at first sight but then you started to play it. It didn't sound like you expected it to. You wondered, "Why is it so hard to hold that note?" and "Where do I put my fingers?"

Now perhaps the questions have changed to,"How on earth can he/she get that sound?" Once you have discovered how to hold the strings to actually produce a sound, it sounds quite plain. Some find this to be a devastating problem and give up before they even give themselves a chance.

Then there are some of you who keep on trying and have been working on it for weeks, months or maybe even years! Today we're going to give you a crash course on the fundamentals of techniques, otherwise known as tricks.

Keep in mind that these techniques listed below only scratch the surface of what you can do with them. We'll get more in-depth on each of them in future newsletters. The goal over the past few weeks has been to get every subscriber on the same level and we'll take things more advanced later on in the year.

First thing is first, make sure you're holding the guitar correctly and that you have the proper posture. Achieving these tricks requires that you don't play sloppy. You'll be doing very fine and precise movements with your fingers, so insure that your doing the following:

  • A good warm-up. This may involve running your fingers up and down the fretboard or playing an easy lick that you enjoy. Just insure that you don't dive directly into these tricks as you can hurt your wrists if your not warmed up.
  • Sit straight. This automatically assists your fingers in finding the correct position.
  • Stay relaxed and loose, this way the faster movements will come easily and naturally, instead of sounding forced.

With that in mind, let's move into the basic techniques that are used in everyday lead guitar. Listed below, you will find the most common tricks along with video and audio.

Hammer On's: Hammer on's are one of the most widely used techniques in guitar playing. They can be played a multitude of different ways and are invaluable when it comes to wowing your audiences. To begin, take a look at the music pictured below:

Take notice of the tablature. The numbers are "tied" with an H below them. This signifies that the piece wants you to perform a hammer on from the first note to the second note.

To play a hammer on, place your finger on the second fret and strike the string, allowing it to ring out. Then, without hitting the string again, place you finger on the 3rd fret of the same string. The sound then switches to the sound of the 3rd fret.

You will need to hit the string with more pressure the further your fingers are apart to get the desired effect. The closer the two notes (like shown above) the easier.

Here is how it looks and sounds when played:

Pull Off's : This technique is the exact opposite of the hammer on. It's used quite often in unison with the hammer on's to create spectacular trills (going back and forth between two notes really quickly,) dazzling finger tapping and more. The possibilities are literally endless when you use these techniques.

To perform a pull off, you need to use two fingers. Place one finger anywhere on the fretboard you like and then take your second finger and place it higher up on the fretboard. Continue to hold down the string where you placed your first finger, even though it will make no noise because another finger is holding down the string further up the fretboard. The reason for this will be explained in a moment.

Then you strike the note and let go of the string you are currently on. The sound will then change to the sound of the fret you had your other finger on. If that finger wasn't held down, you wouldn't have gotten the same effect you were looking for.

Note: You can hammer on and pull off using open strings. This is very commonly used but for the example above it does not apply.

Take a look at this picture and see the similarities between the notation that tells us to use the pull off and the notation to hammer on:

See how it's really just the reverse of what you did to perform a hammer on? The numbers are tied together exactly like the hammer on, so pay close attention to the letter at the bottom of the tab to see what it's asking you to do.

Here's how it looks and sounds:

Slides: You may have noticed by taking a look at previous newsletters that I enjoy using slides when I play guitar. I believe it adds that something extra to a piece of music. Plus, they're a lot of fun to do!

Take your finger and place it on any note you wish. The next step is simple, just keep your finger pressed down and slide it to the desired note that you want to land on. You can use this going up the neck or sliding down the neck. The distance doesn't matter so long as you make sure to keep your finger held down.

You don't need to place a ton of pressure down on the string, you would be amazed at how little pressure it takes. Press down until you hear sound and away you go!

Here's an example of the notation commonly used to signify a slide:

See how the lines indicate which way to slide? When they are pointing up, slide towards your pickup. When pointing down, slide towards your headstock. Here's how that simple example looks and sounds:

String Bends: One of the most common yet least understood aspect of basic techniques are string bends. Many people use them but the thing is, sometimes they aren't used correctly. The goal with a good string bend is to bend the string up or down (making the pitch higher or lower) while keeping it in tune. Not everyone has perfect pitch but there is an easy solution to this problem.

There are different types of bends, such as a halfstep bend and a full bend and even a 1/4 bend! However, the most common bend, which will be the one that we will cover in this lesson, is the halfstep bend.

The halfstep bend is equivalent to achieving the sound of the next fret up on your guitar. In other words, the note in front or behind the note you are currently on. Sound the note that is one fret above (or below) the note that you wish to bend. Try to match that sound when you bend the string.

To bend a note, follow the following steps:

  • Put your thumb around the neck of your guitar. This isn't normally good technique but in the case of bending notes it adds much needed support and leverage.
  • Try to bend a note with your first three fingers. Some guitarists use their fourth finger but I don't recommend it as it isn't a steady finger. You could lose your grasp and as a result lose the tone or the sound all together. Put your third finger on the note you wish to bend and place the first and second fingers on the frets behind it for some power.

The result of a string bend is an awesome and powerful sound that take the pitch up or down. It can be used in many settings (too many to list in this lesson.)

Now here's a simple exercise to get you going:

Here's how it sounds and looks:


Trills: This technique is essentially hammer on's and pull off's used together at a really fast pace. It's a great technique to use at the climax of a really cool solo or when you are ending a song. It can be used for rock, jazz, blues, country, and many other genres.

To play a trill, set up for a hammer on. Play the note and let it ring. While the note is ringing, hammer on and then pull off and keep repeating this at a very fast pace. It will take some practice to get the timing right but once you have it, you'll have a lot of fun!

Here's what the notation for a trill looks like:

In tab, a trill will always be shown in little brackets in front of the note along with the abbreviated tr with a squiggly line. If you can't see the brackets, look for the tr and the squiggly line to see if it is a trill. In this case it's between the fifth fret and the sixth fret.

Here's how it sounds and looks like when played:

Palm Mutes: Palm mutes are played exactly like the name implies... with your palm! Palm mutes can be used in a number of settings. I normally use them for adding in a rhythmic swing to the music I am playing or to cut a note short. Those are just a few of the examples of what you can actually use this technique for.

To play a palm mute, simply place the palm of your picking hand on the bridge. Make sure to cover the strings that you wish to mute. Then simply hold your palm there and play the notes. They won't ring out because they can't vibrate. Instead, you get this "thump" type of sound.

Here's what the notation looks like and a quick example:

Harmonics: Ah, the wonderful world of the harmonic. It's one of the most beautiful and fascinating tricks around that is sure to leave your audience on their feet. However, the unfortunate part about harmonics is learning how to play them. It took me quite a while before I started to get a good grasp on them.

Then I learned that there's actually quite a few different types of harmonics that can be played on guitar! Every note you play on the guitar is actually a harmonic which is most commonly known as the "Fundamental" harmonic. I look at it as the "First" harmonic.

To play the harmonic that we want, you need to eliminate this fundamental harmonic. To keep things simple, all harmonics can be looked at as artificial harmonics. However, not all harmonics are fretted (where you place your finger down on the fret to produce a note, which is what "artificial" means.) So to tell us what they are we use different notations in music.

For beginners, a natural harmonic is the best route to go to learn how to play harmonics. These are the harmonics that you can play just by using your open strings.

The easiest place to hit these natural harmonics is on the 12th and 7th fret. Gently place your fretting hand on the string directly above the fret of your choice. While placing your finger lightly on the string, pick the note and remove your finger as soon as the string makes a noise.

This happens pretty fast so you need to be prepared to move that fretting hand as soon as you pluck the string.

Here's a little example of what it would look like on tab:

Note: There are different notations for different harmonics. This signifies natural harmonics.

Here's how it looks and sounds:


Vibrato: This is another great technique to use in a number of different situations. I prefer to use it for rock but I tend to end up using it quite a bit in jazz and blues riffs as well.

Take your finger and place it on any fret you wish. Then pluck the string and shake it! Yes I said shake it (your finger that is.) This will produce a very nice sound that is famous on tracks ranging from B.B King to Van Halen.

Here's what the notation looks like:

Putting It All Together...

Now that we have the basic techniques covered, it's time to apply them. Here are a few riffs to hone your skills on. I hope you enjoy!

Key: C Major

Key: D Major

Note: This will give you an idea of what to expect in next weeks newsletter. It's rhythmic and percussive but also has a lead.

Guitar Tips Feature Band

The Darla & Rich Quintet

Every so often, I come across a band that is composed of pure class and style. Last week, a member of one of those bands emailed me and guess what... he's 71 and still rocking! Actually, he was in the process of emailing me to tell his story and encourage his fellow subscribers when I took notice of the band he was in.

The Darla & Rich Quintet has something that is truly unique to add to the music scene. They've put together a warm and soothing blend of various genres, the end result is bound to be a product that is something worth listening to.

I was immediately impressed when I read up on the background of these musicians. Not only were they well educated and accomplished but they also had a sharp and polished appearance.

Here's what Jim, the guitarist for the band, had to say about the members of The Darla & Rich Quintet and what they're all about:

"The Darla Rich band started out as a duo then became a trio, quartet and the current Darla Rich quintet.

Rich, our leader is classically trained and does wonderful things with bossas using the classical finger style playing. He is also an accomplished flat picker and can combine the two styles in any mode of music.

Darla, our band manager would be an asset to any group because of her beautiful voice. Darla can do justice to any tune be it up tempo, slow ballad or Latin type tunes. As if this were not enough, she is a very accomplished bassist. Darla while doing her job of keeping a beat and forming the bottom of the group will play base lines that are so fine that sometimes I listen to her and forget what I am there for.

Joe Bezek plays alto sax and his tone is reminiscent of Paul Desmond. Joe's hero is Charlie Parker and when we do tunes like Lady Bird and Au Privave he really can swing.

David Stier, our drummer, is an accomplished artist and has had showings of his paintings at Philidelphia art galleries. He is currently studying with Tony Di Nacola. David really swings and can change styles and nuances at the drop of a hat to match anything the band is doing at the moment.

The band also features original compositions written by both Rich and I. As far as age is concerned Rich and Joe are in their 40's Darla is 29+ and David is the youngster of the group in his early 30's."

Jim is so humble, that he actually left himself out in the description! The following is paraphrased from the band's website:

"Jim has studied with Tony Noto, a protégé of Chuck Wayne, and later with Hy White, staff quitarist with CBS and NBC. Jim, started when he was only 16. At 18 he went on the road and, at that time, appeared on the Johnny Mathis "Wild Is The Wind" album.

Due to business commitments, Jim discontinued performing in 1973 and did not play guitar for twenty- five years.

In 1998 he retired from the brokerage industry and began seriously studying the guitar again. His most recent study has been with local jazz guitarist Jerry Topinka who has performed with many notables including Les Paul. He joined the Darla Rich Quintet in 2002 and is extremely happy in his new music career."

To check out their website, click here. I strongly suggest that you listen to their sound clips to hear a sound that is reminiscent of the old jazz standards with a taste of other genres that are bound to wet your palate. If you like jazz and swing as much as I do, you'll fall in love with their songs.

We love hearing about your bands. Send me an email and you might find your band featured in our next month's newsletter!

The Winner Of Our $1000 Sweepstakes

Carol Amore

Pictured above is Carol with Chris Botti at a Boston jazz club!

It's not everyday that you get the opportunity to sort through over 6,800 contest entries! Amongst those countless emails were some truly inspiring stories and ideas. However, one of them was out of this world. There are many valid reasons why someone should win this contest.

For instance, I heard of many people who came to me saying they simply couldn't afford any new gear due to a bad financial situation. In my opinion, that a really good reason to win this contest. Others came telling me how they wanted to give back to their community... Yet another great reason.

Then along came Carol with this entry:

1. What would you like us to include in the Guitar Tips Newsletter?

"I would like to see more songs with both tab and the musical notes. I also would like to be able to play the track. I loved "Every Breath You Take.""

2. Why should we send you the free guitar?

"I should win the prize package because I am a single mother whose full time NON paying job is taking care of my 23 year old special needs daughter. I live on child support. I owe $45,000 for a school loan when I went back to get my masters in interdisciplinary art in 2000. I am trying to develop an artist support center here in my home so that I can continue to be here at home with my daughter and be able to support us in the future. I like to be able to inspire people to pursue their creativity. "Winning" this is a step in that direction, to be able to say you can do anything when you have your heart in it."

3. Any final comments / suggestions? "I love music. P.S. I am left handed and learning guitar is a challenge.

Some may ask what is so special about that? Well the answer is that she was the "Triple threat." She had a financial need, she's a single Mom trying her best to give her child the best life possible and she wanted to do something for her community. I think that deserves some recognition and I'm sure many of you would have to agree!

I had the chance to catch up with Carol earlier in the week and do an interview with her. Here's the result:

Guitar Tips: You mentioned in your entry that you are trying to develop an artist support centre from your home. What is your vision for this foundation? How will winning this contest help you achieve your dream?

Carol: Not far from my home in the city of Gloucester stands two lighthouses called Twin Lights. A long time ago I heard this story--When a boat is out in the water and sees only one lighthouse it means that they are perfectly lined with true North. Although I have not been able to document the truth of this story, I liked it. The name of my business is True North and is named after this story..

This contest not only satisfies me on a personal level as to finally have an acoustic guitar but in the bigger picture it stands for everything that my business intends itself to be. It is a place where people can be supported in being true to whom they are, not to society or peers or the latest trend. It is a place to let your true colors show. It is a place of connections first to the self and then to others. It is a place to be engaged with life, true north, where two become one, where art becomes life. The true self is and will always be the creative self. It brings me peace, when the distinction between art and life blur with no defining line. It is this peace that I want to share in my living space and in my community. It is why I loved school so much, the bringing together of creative endeavors. I felt that you never really knew a person until you saw their art.

Guitar Tips: How did your children react when you told them that you had won our contest?

Carol: I also have two other daughter's Natasha 20, and Felicia, 18. Natasha said that I am the most deserving person for the shopping spree. My friend Felicia said the same thing. My daughter Felica took the news in and raised one eyebrow. Tasha also mentioned that her boyfriend would say positive thinking always gets you positive results.

Guitar Tips: You have become an instant celebrity among our subscribers. What does that feel like?

Carol: It was an odd feeling when Jordan told me that 30 subscribers had responded with congratulations for me. The only thing they knew about me was that I was a mother, a giver, and a beautiful person, in Jordan's words. It felt like the value of being such things was being recognized in a way that I myself had not quite acknowledged. To those people I say thank you very much.

Guitar Tips: What are some of the items that you are looking at getting with this money?

Carol: As stated in my "p.s." I love music. Music has got me through it all. There is a constant soundtrack playing in my life. When I was young I played the organ 'by number.' I sang like an opera singer. All of it went underground and did not resurface until my forties. I started piano lessons and then guitar. I craved music theory and the understanding of it all. I have a long way to go. Getting an acoustic guitar means I am free to travel within my home, inside or out, in my daughter's room when she is going to sleep, in the backyard in front of the firepit (Without lugging the amplifier!) I look forward to the next fifty years growing old with my new $1000 Martin. Yeah!!!!!!! THANK YOU!

Well that concludes our contest. As you can tell, Carol is one very special lady and I'm happy she won. I do wish I had about $20 000 to give away to many of you but unfortunately that's how the cookie crumbles. I'm looking forward to implementing all of your awesome feedback in our newsletter over the coming year.

Don't forget about our most recent contest! Click here for details on entering.

Feedback Booth

This week many of you took the time to email us congratulating Carol. A lot of you have also started to email us with feedback on each newsletter and to you we send out a huge thank you. I know I say this in every newsletter but if we don't hear back from you, we don't know if we're on the right track.

Here's some of the contest related feedback we have been getting:

Katherine Torias write to us with this:

"Hi and good morning to you Mr. Warford. I really wish I won but its not my fortune to have that, maybe for me it's better luck next time. For Carol Amore it's a simple word but it comes from the bottom of my heart CONGRATULATIONS to her. Even though the contest is finished, I'm wishing that you will keep in touch Mr. Warford. Until then, thank you very much and God bless..."

Nelson Tomboc comes to us with these kind words:

"Hi Jordan! Thanks a lot for the information of the winner Carol Amore and congratulations to her. Well, it's fine that you have chosen one and the best of all the entries. Because music always there and unlimited still going on for strumming favorite songs during leisure time, breaktime and night time. I am so inspired of you and because of you my desire to learn is in your hands. Once again thanks and more power to you and in the future ahead. Yours truly, Nelson"

Jah Bless has this special message for Carol:

"Hi! Happy to hear that Carol, a mother won. I hope this day will remain as a memory to her and her entire family. I pray that this reward shine light to her children so that they all/some join the field of music in future. I hope they will be able to use the cash to improve on their music school and probably The Guitar Tips School. Congratulations Carol and I wish you all the best."

Jim Morrow writes to Carol with this:

"Jordan, thank you for allowing me to enter, and I am sincerely happy that a deserving Mother is the lucky winner, please give her my best, and tell her to never give up hope, it will get better, - Jim"

...The emails never ceased! If I were to include everyone's congratulations it would exceed 40 emails!

Finally, I thought I would end with a word from Keith Hillman:

"Jordan, I find the info I purchased very useful but I also find that your newsletters are very illustrative and give me just enough info in one short setting that I can absorb and begin applying in my daily practices. Thanks, Keith Hillman, Wyandotte, MI"


Well that raps up this edition of our Guitar Tips Newsletter and thank you for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed the new addition of video. We'll be taking a more "Hands on" approach to our newsletters over the coming months.

Next week we'll dive into new aspects of rhythm guitar and teach you things that will blow your mind! We will also apply the concepts we've covered in this edition to playing chords and different strumming patterns. In our upcoming articles you can expect to see more gear reviews and new and improved lessons.

Until next time, keep on rocking!


If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit http://www.guitartips.com.au