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5 Fretting Techniques Beginner Guitarists Must Know

Fretting the guitar is the act of placing fingers on the fretboard to create harmonious sounds. Fretting is about putting your fingers on the strings to get the guitar to produce clear and full harmony. The sweet spot on a fret to place your finger is the area of the fret directing behind the fret “wire”. As a beginner guitarist, there are five fretting techniques you must know well.

The Basics of Fretting

To play a song on your guitar, you will need to make chord formations. But it is not simply possible for every finger on a fret to form the chord. There are different factors when it comes to fretting:

  • Finger curl: It is important to curl the fingers in a way that the tips of the fingers are able to attack the proper frets so as to apply proper pressure to the strings. New players tend to keep their fingers straight.

  • Thumb leverage: Thumb leverage is when you place your thumb on the back of the neck of the guitar to apply the pressure you need for the finger to press on the fret.

  • Clearance: There needs to be enough clearance or space in your hand position to allow any surrounding open strings to ring clear without touching them while applying finger pressure to the proper chords. The goal is to form the chord without muting or buzzing any of the surrounding strings.

When you become familiar with how to hold the guitar neck and place your fingers on the fret, it’s time to master the five fretting techniques:

1. Holding the pick

It may seem easy to see seasoned guitarists holding the pick and strumming the guitar effortlessly. But there needs to be a firm grip without being tense so that you can pluck the string downwards toward the floor and upward toward the ceiling confidently. The proper way to hold the pick is between your bent index finger and thumb.

Do not pinch the pick as this will make it harder to play fast because it makes it harder to use your wrist and elbow to help you play. It may also lead to an uneven picking angle. Learning to hold the pick properly as a beginner guitarist will save you from bad habits later.

2. Hammer-ons

Hammer-ons and Pull-offs produce a legato sound on a single string. Legato-sounding notes connect smoothly. This means you do not separate the notes by plucking the string again on the second note. Both hammer-ons and pull-offs are notated with a slur. The difference is that hammer-ons slur to a higher pitch while pull-offs slur to a lower pitch.

Executing a Hammer-on:

  • Fret a note

  • Pluck the string

  • Without releasing the first fretted note, quickly hammer or push down the second note without plucking the string again.

3. Pull-ons

To play a pull-off, you play a note then you fret a note behind the one you just played. Then you pull your finger off the first note without re-plucking the string. The notes will transition smoothly like hammer-ons.

Executing a Pull-on:

  • Fret the first note

  • Pluck the string

  • Without releasing the first note, fret the second note with another finger.

  • While keeping the second note fretted, quickly release the first note. Do not pluck the string again.

4. String bending

Bends raise the pitch of the note, the amount of pitch change is dependent on the distance you bend. Typically, you want to change the pitch by half step or a whole step. Other times, you want to change it even more.

Executing a String bending:

  • Fret the first note

  • Pluck the string

  • Without raising your finger off the fretboard, slide it vertically up or down (parallel to the fret), and bend until you hit the target pitch (the second note).

5. Sliding

Sliding involves moving your fingers up and down the fretboard on a single string. There are different types of slides you can do. Most people use legato slides. The other type of slide is the shift slide, which is the same as the legato but ends with a second string being plucked.

Executing a Slide:

  • Perform a fret on the beginning note

  • Pluck the string

  • Slide your finger down to the following note without releasing the string from the fretting hand

The different techniques add interest to your guitar playing and learning process. Learning to execute these five guitar fretting techniques properly will help you develop a solid base for your guitar-playing style.

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