Guitar, Bass, Pickup, and Effects Resources

Guitar Playing Styles


Chords, Solos, Finger Taps and More



Guitar Playing Styles | Styles of Guitar Playing

Page Update 3/7/2016


Due to the fact that there are many different types of music, a guitarists playing style may depend on the music type.  For example, a metal guitarist may play more solos or finger taps than a country musician.  Of course this all is subjective and can depend on different genres of music.  Listed below are some different playing styles, of course variations can apply to different guitarists. We will discuss at length strumming, finger taps, chords, soloing, natural harmonics, artificial harmonics, and muffling.

Strumming A Guitar

Guitar Strumming is the act of moving the pick or fingers over the strings toward the body of the guitar.  Typically while strumming your guitar you would be playing a chord with one hand and strumming with the other.  A right handed person would typically play chords with their left hand and strum with their right.  The opposite would be true for a left handed guitarist.  Some guitarist may strum downwards, upwards, or both during a song.  As you become more experienced typically variations in your strumming style may occur.   

Playing Guitar Chords

Playing chords is basically playing several strings at a time which forms a chord.  A right handed guitarist would typically chord with his left hand and strum with his right hand.  There are many different types of chords to play on a guitar.  Most rock songs may include bar chords.  A bar chord is basically when your fingers bar several notes at one time with one or more fingers.  You can play chord progressions and as you become more experienced, major and minor chords will mean a lot depending on the song.  A major chord may sound happy while a minor chord could fit better into a sad song. 

Guitar Soloing and Playing Guitar Solos

Typically a guitar solo may occur in the middle of a song, but exceptions do exist.  As you get through the basics of a guitar strumming and chording, you will eventually want to learn to solo.  Guitar soloing is basically playing single notes without vocal accompaniment for a short period of time in most songs.  Many hard rock and metal songs have solos that are very fast and complicated.  Try looking at tablature online and using song books to learn other guitarist styles.  Eventually you may develop your own solo style over time.  Exceptions may exist to this definition, but this is just meant to give you an idea of solos and solo techniques. 

Guitar Finger Taps or Finger Tapping

Finger taps are basically the act of tapping the note on the fret board with your finger tips.  Probably the most famous guitarist to utilize guitar tapping techiques is Eddie Van Halen (Ex: Eruption).  Many other guitarists also have used finger taps in their solos including Steve Vai and Angus Young.  Angus Young of AC/DC typically taps with one hand instead of two in some of his songs (Ex: Thunderstruck). 

Muffling Guitar Strings & Muffling for Rock And Metal Music

Muffling your strings is the act of holding the side palm of your hand on the strings while still picking with your fingers on your strumming hand.  Muffling works very well with distortion on your amp.  Once you perfect this technique, you will notice how many songs utilize the muffling technique.  It offers some variety while playing as well.  You can also muffle without distortion and even on acoustic guitars.


Harmonics – Natural Harmonics Vs Artificial Harmonics

Natural Harmonics - Natural harmonics can be played by barely touching the string on certain frets offering a higher pitched note.  Try barely touching a string at the 12th fret directly over the fret itself.  You will notice a nice natural harmonic that will occur if the technique is done correctly.  This takes a lot of practice to perfect, but keep with it and work through the growing pains. 

Artificial Harmonics - An artificial harmonic is a little more complicated. 
1.       Hold a single note with your chording hand,
2.       Pick the note with your pick hand, but
3.       While picking the note touch the edge of your thumb to the string slightly 
Basically you play a note like you normally would, but you have to pick the note and touch the edge of your thumb to the string to create the harmonic.  It’s very cool once you perfect it.  This is definitely a technique for more advanced guitarists.