Posted October 18, 2017 by Mike Mineo in Features

12 Electric Guitar Techniques Everyone Needs To Learn

The stuff you can do on an electric guitar is an indicator of your range as a musician, so the more techniques you know, the more you can do. If you want to become a better and more versatile guitar player, you need to learn and master these techniques and apply these to your performance. Eventually and with serious practice, you will be able to develop your own unique style, sound and personality, making you stand out from the rest of the guitar-playing crowd.

It’s been said that Jimi Hendrix, who many consider to be the best guitarist of all time, got his skills, sound and playing style from studying how the great blues musicians such as Buddy Guy played, and making their techniques his own.

Aside from Jimi Hendrix, other popular virtuoso guitarists have also utilized electric guitar techniques to full effect, including Eddie Van Halen with his two-handed tapping (he said he was inspired by Jimmy Page), Steve Vai and his pinch harmonics and Brian May with his bends, pull-offs, hammer-ons and just about everything he did on his Red Special.

Of course, Brian May – with the help of his dad – built his guitar, so he knows his gear inside out. And that’s one thing you also need to consider when learning electric guitar techniques: you should know your equipment (this includes your amp) well and maximize those features. Finding the right guitar is key to pulling off those slick moves.

Here’s a rundown of some of the techniques you need to learn to get you on your way to becoming a pro.

  • String bending – done by pushing a string upward on the fingerboard with your fretting hand so that the string bends, gets tighter and therefore produces a higher pitch.


  • Brush stroke – done by using your hand instead of a plectrum to strum chords. You can also play octaves using your thumb.


  • Hammer-on – done by “hammering” or striking an additional finger from your fretting hand into a note on the same string to make it sound.


  • Pull-off – the opposite of the hammer-on, done by pulling a finger off the string and sounding a note.


  • Palm muting – done by lightly laying the hand on the strings by the guitar bridge to mute or partially silence the strings while strumming and picking. Usually done for a percussion effect.


  • Hybrid picking – done by using a plectrum together with the rest of the fingers of the pick hand.


  • Tapping – involves striking a string using your fingertip and then lifting your finger off the string to create two sounds. Tapping is often combined with pull-offs and hammer-ons.


  • Two-hand tapping – using both hands to tap single notes or chordal instances.


  • Vibrato – using the fingers and wrist to give the string a “wiggle” and produce a wobbly vibrato effect


  • Whammy bar vibrato – applying vibrato using the whammy bar when finger-based vibrato can is difficult to do.


  • Pinch harmonics – brush your picking hand thumb against the string right after picking it, right where one of the nodes are located, to produce a pinch harmonic.


  • Guitar harmonics – harmonics are produced by gently and carefully touching a string along the fingerboard after it is plucked on a node, resulting in a bell-like chime. The sound can be altered to new dimensions with the addition of volume and distortion, and with the use of a whammy bar.

Those are just some of the electric guitar techniques you need to get started on. Practice as often as possible until you can execute them with finesse, then add more techniques to your arsenal to get one step closer to becoming one of the guitar greats!

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].