Discover How You Can Get a Great Guitar Tone

This lesson is for everyone in the whole universe that plays guitar. Most of the sound you get from playing guitar is from the hands, not from your gear. If you wish you had a better sound on the guitar than you might want to reconsider a few aspects of your guitar playing to improve your sound. How does this work and what can you do to change your sound? I will show you what you need to know about improving your guitar tone.

Your picking hand is very influential on your guitar tone. This is where you control the volume, brightness or your sound and the harshness. The very first step to creating the guitar sound that you really like is getting the right type of pick. Harder picks will have a harsher sound than a flimsy guitar pick. Different guitar pick materials will have different sounds. You may find experimenting with different guitar picks is a good start to changing your guitar tone. Try different materials, sizes and thickness. Keep in mind that guitar picks should feel comfortable.

After you have a good sounding pick you should concentrate on where you pluck the string and how hard you pluck it. Different positions on the string will create different sounds. Typically closer to the bridge has more of a brighter twang sound and closer to the neck has a darker full sound. Try plucking the string in different sections and you will find that your guitar will start to sound different than it has before. Also keep in mind that you should feel comfortable playing the guitar.  The harder you pluck the string the louder your sound will be. If you want a louder guitar sound then plucking harder may be what you want. Slight differences in how hard you pluck will make a difference. Do not pluck your strings hard enough to break them.

Finally for the picking hand you should experiment with how you hold the guitar pick. Different angles of the guitar pick will create different guitar tones. You can tilt the pick upward or downward. You can also turn the pick to face the bridge or the neck. Experiment with the angle of the pick. You may also want to experiment with the strength that you hold the pick. If you hold the pick tightly there will be less give for the pick and it will sound different than if you lightly hold on to it. You may also want to experiment with the position of the pick between your fingers. There are so many ways to experiment with the guitar pick. Keep in mind that finger style guitar will sound completely different from a guitar pick.

The picking hand on the guitar generates a great amount of the tone you receive on the guitar. Your guitar tone will change depending on your pick and the placement of your pick. Minor adjustments can make the biggest differences in your guitar tone. Experiment with different approaches; however remember that you should always feel comfortable with the guitar. If you find a position that is just very awkward then you may want to find a new position to hold your pick. Share your thoughts below

How to start alternate picking on guitar

When you progress in your guitar playing and start to play single note lines, you won’t be able to strum these notes so you will need a new approach for your right hand. A lot of people when they first start single note lines pick only downward. I advise against this. Only picking downward will slow you do dramatically. Consider how easily you can walk if you only moved one leg? So this is where alternate picking comes in.

Alternate picking is no different from walking. If you were walking you would first move your right leg, then your left, repeating this over and over again. Picking the guitar is the same. You pick down, and then you pick up and repeat over and over. This may feel difficult at first, but give it time and it will feel as natural as walking.

When you walk up a flight of stairs do you change your walking pattern? No! You still put one foot in front of the other. Each step you take uses the opposite leg.  When you change strings on guitar it is the exact same process as walking up stairs. You still continue to pick down up down up. This is how alternate picking got named. You are constantly alternating between down strokes and up strokes no matter what.

When you first start to practice alternate picking keep your mind focused on it. You may start to slip away from it if you aren’t conscious of it. When a baby first begins to walk it is a major feat for the child. He is concentrating hard on it. The same thing applies to alternate picking. Start slow; be aware of what you are doing. It will become much easier very quickly.

I recommend you practice alternate picking with simple scales such as the chromatic scale. If you do not know the chromatic scale I would suggest you check out my blog post called “Introduction to Guitar Scales – Chromatic Scale”.  The main idea is to focus on your right hand. Most guitarists do not spend nearly enough time practicing their right hand. Do this for a while and you will find it getting easier.

Just like when you walk, you put one foot in front of the other, alternate picking you switch between down strokes and up strokes. Concentrate on it like a baby does when they first walk. This technique really becomes second nature. Just spend a little time working on it, and watch it sink in and become muscle memory. Don’t be stuck in a rut of only picking downward. You have the capability of much more. Now go train for a marathon!