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Adding color to every note you play with phrasing techniques

Article Written By Marco Von Baumbach

If you want to develop a very expressive playing style, you may want to have every note you are playing sound awesome. I'm introducing to you now some techniques which will help you to get the most out of every single note you are playing.




Vibrato is a great tool to be expressive, especially with long sounding notes. Also it helps the note to sustain longer than it would without vibrato. It is being played just like you would play a couple of bend-release-bendings one after the other. You may want to pay attention to the speed and how much you pull the strings while playing the vibrato, according to the musical situation. If you are playing a ballad you may want to play it slower and only pull the string a little bit. When you are in a metal tune, you may want to play it faster and more aggressively.




Rakes will give the notes you are playing a more percussive sound. You apply them by fretting the note you want to play while muting the strings lower of your target note with your palm and then hit them all with your pick, so that only your target note rings out clearly. In case it is not clear to you how this looks like, the video bellow shows you how it sounds when it is executed:


Pinch harmonics


The 3rd technique to make single notes sound awesome is pinch harmonics. These are a bit more tricky to play when trying them first. What you are trying to get here is a screaming or squeezing sound from your guitar. You achieve this by touching your string slightly with the thumb after you have hit it with the pick. It is all about positioning your pick in your picking hand in a way, that allows your thumb to slightly touch the string after you've hit it. You may need to experiment a bit with positioning your pick between your index finger and thumb, until you have it in a position which allows you to touch the string slightly with the thumb after having hit it.

Palm muting


This one is another technique giving you a percussive sound. In general it is used in rhythm guitar, where you are muting the strings with your palm while hitting them with your pick. It may seem a bit unusual for you to use palm muting when playing solos, however you can create some pretty tasty licks with these technique, so give it a try!


Keep in mind when using this phrasing techniques to not overuse them. While they are all sounding amazing when used occasionally, they tend to get annoying or at least loose their power if applied to frequently. Having a variety of phrasing techniques mastered helps you with this problem, since you have more than one option to choose from.



This article is written by Marco von Baumbach. He is teaching guitar in Wuppertal, Germany. For further information about the author check out his website, about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal 

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