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Mastering what you need to know

Essential Guitar Techniques: Mastering what you need to know  · 


Essential guitar techniques contain the skill set you’ll carry forever. Knowing what they are and how to use them is vital. Let’s see how you can get to grips with these core skills.

Essential Guitar Techniques: Mastering what you need to know

Beginner or otherwise, understanding some of the essential guitar techniques that you’ll need on your guitar-playing journey is crucial. Sure, we all want to rock out from the get-go. However, getting a hold of some key skills is still just as important.

Think of the basics as your warm-up before a workout. These skills are like the warm-up to your whole career. Moreover, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to playing the guitar.

We’ll be browsing some easy fundamentals that will give you a safe starting point. Oh, and if you’re new, you may not even have your first guitar yet! Here are a few ideal entry-level axes, electric or acoustic, there’s plenty of choice.

Chord Box Diagrams

Consider chords to be the building blocks of music. No matter what your favourite song is, chances are, it’ll have a whole bunch of different chords in it.

So, how can we learn this essential guitar technique? Firstly, you’ll want to get familiar with chord box diagrams. These are what illustrate the chord to a guitar player. Luckily for us, it’s a universal language that is common amongst all players.

The horizontal lines depict the frets on the guitar, which are sometimes numbered. In addition, the vertical lines show us our stings. We’ll also see various dots on the diagram and this tells us where to place our fingers on the fretboard. These can also be numbered, whereby each number corresponds to one of your fingers. Finally, watch out for any crosses at the top of the diagram, this means that we want to avoid playing that specific string.

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Essential Guitar Techniques – Chord Box Diagrams

Strumming Patterns

Now we’ve looked at chords, it’s time to look at some strumming patterns. This will fundamentally overhaul your playing.

This essential guitar technique will add some rhythm and style. Have you ever played through some chords, but with just boring downstrokes? Sure, strumming downwards on the beat is fine, but we want to make things more exciting.

Strumming patterns introduce different ways of strumming on the guitar. Instead of just playing downstrokes, you could throw in some upstrokes too. There are loads of combinations to choose from. Each of them will add a new dimension to your playing.

Essential Guitar Techniques
Essential Guitar Techniques – Strumming Patterns

This image shows us a couple of examples. Complete with the rhythms, comprising of crotchets and quavers otherwise known as quarter and eighth notes. We’ve also got numbers to help you count when having a go at these varying strumming patterns.

Lead Techniques

Thirdly, we’ll take a step closer to the spotlight. We’ve covered the rhythm section so let’s jump into some lead guitar techniques.

You don’t have to go full Angus Young for this one, here we’ll be looking at a few cool embellishments you can add to your music. Learning these will transform any melody or riff that you know. Here are a few that we can have a go at:

  • Hammer-ons
  • Vibrato
  • Slides

Utilising hammer-ons can be fun. This essential guitar technique means that you pick one note, but end up hearing two. Additionally, vibrato is the rapid movement of a note. We can do this by shaking a note from side to side or up and down. It’s important not to alter the pitch. Slides are a great way of getting from one note to another on a single string.

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Essential Guitar Techniques
Essential Guitar Techniques – Lead Techniques

Scales: Essential Guitar Techniques

To go with our lead skills, let’s bolt on this quintessential guitar scale. Okay, it might be a meme amongst players, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

The Am pentatonic scale is legendary amongst guitar players. Sharing notes with the blues scale, the pentatonic teaches your fingers the dexterity of single-note playing. A comprehensive understanding of this will turbo-charge your ability to retain riffs and solos.

Although an entry-level essential technique, it will ultimately broaden your horizons to many more scales. Allowing for some killer solos and shredding potentials later down the line. Check out this TAB of the Am pentatonic scale. If you’re not too hot on TAB, why not check out our guide on how to read it?

Essential Guitar Techniques – Scales


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Finally, our last essential guitar technique is fingerstyle guitar playing. Playing with a pick is great, but what happens if we ditch it?

Did you know that you can still play fingerstyle on an electric guitar? Although stylistically played on acoustic guitars, just about anyone can have a go at this skill. Here, you’ll be using your fingers and thumb in your right hand.

Helping us to practice this technique, we’ll be looking at Everybody Hurts by REM. Comprising of a few basic chords, we can slowly get the ball rolling with fingerstyle playing.

Essential Guitar Techniques
Essential Guitar Techniques – Fingerstyle

For this one, I recommend using your thumb, 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers. We’re in a 6/8 time signature so I find it really useful to count each string as a one and work all the way up to six.

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Essential Guitar Techniques: Reliable Foundations

Referring back to some core skills will always come in handy on your guitar-playing journey. Sure, you may be smashing out some Rush solos, but you’ll always need a chord box diagram here and there.

Of course, there are many other techniques that we could have looked at. Would you like another guide on essential guitar techniques? If so, let us know! Such techniques spring to mind:

  • Bends
  • Barre Chords
  • Palm Muting


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Further Information:

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  • Essential Guitar Techniques – Chord Box Diagrams: Chord Bank
Essential Guitar Techniques

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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