Want to make your guitar solos more expressive, exciting and sexy? Simple! Use the following techniques:
- Hammer Ons
- Pull Offs
Without these techniques your guitar solos can sound dull, mechanical and not very musical at all – about as sexy as a electronic door bell chime! Listen to the following short solo using the A minor pentatonic scale with these missing elements to hear how unappealing it can sound.
Unsexy Solo | Download
Now we will cover each technique adding them to the solo step-by-step to make the music more expressive and sexy.
A hammer on is where the first note is plucked with the guitar pick then the second is played by the fretting hand ”hammering on” the fretboard. This allows the second note to be played more smoothly and quickly in comparison to just plucking a pair of notes. In music notation a hammer on is written with a curved line or “slur” between the two notes.
The opposite of a hammer on is pull off where the first note is plucked then the second is played by the finger lifting or “pulling off” the fretboard. To make a pull off work effectively you actually flick or pluck the string with the fretting finger as it lifts off the fretboard. Like a hammer on in music notation a pull off is written with a curved line or “slur” between the two notes. However this time the pull off note will be a lower pitch than the first plucked note.
Check out the fast lick from bar 2 of the solo with the hammer ons and pull offs added. It will now sound much smoother and will also be easier to play.
Hammer Ons & Pull Offs | Download
A bend is where the note is “bent” up in pitch by bending the string across the fretboard. Pluck the string then push it upwards (towards the ceiling) across the fretboard while maintaining pressure on the fretboard itself ensuring that the note continues to ring out. Think of it like pushing a piece of paper across a table top but with more pressure applied. Bends are used extensively in blues and rock guitar solos. A full bend raises the pitch of the note a whole tone (2 frets) while a ½ bend raises it by a ½ tone (1 fret).
Bends | Download
A slide works by the first note being plucked then the second being played by the fretting finger simply sliding to it on the same string. This note can be a higher or lower pitched. It is important with this technique to ensure that enough pressure is applied to the slide so that the second note rings out as loud as the first.
In music notation and guitar tab a slide is notated with a straight line from one not to the next. It can also be written as a small grace note or tab number which is shown in bar 2 when the D note (fret 7) slides quickly to E (fret 9). These graces notes are played very quickly as preceding note to the main note whicvh is played on the beat.
Slides | Download
Vibrato is the wobbly “vibrating” sound that is applied to longer notes. To hear a master of vibrato listen to any solo by BB King – he can make any note sound sexy! There are 2 main ways to play vibrato on guitar. The first is the classical vibrato where after the note is plucked the finger wobbles in place creating a mild vibrato. The other is the vibrato used by rock and blues players. This is created by applying a small back and forth bend to the string. This is usually mixed with a wobble of the finger. How fast you wobble and move your finger can greatly affect the sound of the vibrato. In music notation vibrato is written as a wavy line.
Vibrato Sexy Solo | Download
Listen to the solo with all these elements applied to hear much more expressive it sounds. When playing your next guitar solo don’t forget to add these techniques to make your solos sexier!