Spice up your playing with nine guitar tricks & techniques

The guitar is the most versatile instrument there is. Over the years, many tricks and techniques have been developed for electric guitar and as a beginner guitarist, learning just a few will transform your playing.

I’ve put together nine of the coolest techniques to learn.

Pick Scrape

The pick scrape / pick slide is an excellent tool to string sections of your playing together. You will commonly hear pick scraping in metal/rock songs typically to introduce another section of a song, for instance a bridge.

In the below video I’ve done some basic pick scraping and have also shown how the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme tune (by Nerf Herder) utilises this technique to bridge the intro progression to the main riff.

A very easy technique to throw into your playing!

Tremolo Picking

As a beginner, tremolo picking presents a very simple of way making your playing sound more advanced. Simply pick one note at least twice (with one down stroke and one up stroke), before moving to the next note in your solo and you will get that cool “Pulp Fiction” sound.

Pinch Harmonic

The pinch harmonic is a staple of the metal genre but it is also commonly used by Steve Vai, Satriani and another virtuoso guitarists, typically in conjunction with some clever usage of the whammy bar to emphasis the high pitched sound.

Depending on the type of guitar and amp you have, pinch harmonics can vary in effectiveness. To perform this technique, the thumb on your picking hand should catch string immediately after being picked.

Natural Harmonics

Like the pinch harmonic, natural harmonics make it possible to play a note at a much higher pitch than the frets of a guitar will allow for. Rest your finger on the G string (without pressing) in between the 7th and 8th fret and pluck the string – you have just played a natural harmonic.

This tool can be used to emulate the Coin effect heard on the Super Mario games and also the alien communication tones from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.


Galloping is a rhythm technique commonly used by bands like Iron Maiden to get that  ”horses running” type of sound.


Popularised by Eddie Van Halen, tapping is the number 1 technique that beginner guitarists like to learn. Not only does it sound great, it physically looks impressive.

Octave Skipping

John Petrucci (Dream Theater) tends to use this technique in his solos. By picking the same a note an octave higher in rapid succession, you get this cool effect that can be used in both your lead and rhythm playing.

Volume Swell

The volume swell uses the guitar’s volume knob to increase the volume of a note from zero, giving a violin type of sound.


The scream involves plucking natural harmonics on one or more notes and using the whammy bar to increase / decrease the pitch.

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