Three Simple Tricks to Sound Like A Pro
When we think of ways to sound professional on our instrument, we often tend to look at highly advanced techniques that require hours upon hours of dedicated focus and practice to pull off. Although it is true that many professional guitar players have accomplished that level of skill and are able to perform them on demand, what makes them sound professional is far simpler than those techniques. Even when playing something seemingly easy, they still manage to draw the listener and make each note sound so expressive. In this article, we will be exploring some of the ideas they use and how to adapt those ideas into your own playing to make you sound more professional. The ideas presented here are fairly simple to execute and can be used by players of all levels.
Delayed and tasteful vibrato
Vibrato is one of the single most expressive tools you have as a guitar player. It is difficult to emulate another player’s vibrato as it involves your individually nuanced hand motions. This is great because it allows you to develop your own expressive sound through the use of your vibrato. However, improper use of vibrato can easily make your playing sound dreadful. A huge difference between sounding like an amateur and a pro is when and how you use vibrato. You do not want to use the exact same kind of vibrato on every single note you play. Instead, practice delayed vibrato, where you let the note ring out for a while, before you add vibrato to that note. Again, you want to vary the kind of vibrato you use depending on the intensity level you wish to project. Use wider and faster vibrato for more climactic areas of the solo and shallower, slower vibrato for less intense parts of the solo. For really intense parts, you can use intense vibrato throughout the entire note. Mix and match these ideas to depending on what the situation demands from your solo. This alone can completely transform how you sound and make you sound more like a pro.
Leaving more space between notes
Another way to sound more professional is by the use of space between the notes you play. When you observe any great player, they do this a lot. This helps create more contrast between the less intense and more intense areas of the song or solo. If all we do is try to fit in as many notes from the start to finish of a song or solo, it will sound uninteresting. Imagine being told a story by someone where they are talking at the same speed, saying words non-stop, without any breaks or pauses in his or her speech. How long would it take for you to completely lose interest, or even get annoyed at how the person is telling the story? The same principle applies to what you do on guitar. We want to tell a story, and not just spew notes non-stop at the listener. It is this mix of peaks and throughs in your playing which will keep the listener, and more importantly, yourself, engaged and interested in what you’re playing.
Doing more with less
Often when we are put on the spot and have to just “play”, we try to think of every technique we have in our arsenal and play it. Remember that whatever you play has to serve the context in which it’s being played. You do not always have to play everything you know. The flashier techniques should be added sparsely and tastefully. This point ties in with the previous point, except when looking at doing more with less, it refers to keeping the phrases simple and getting the best out of fewer notes. If you are able to create more expressive phrases with less notes, it will make the flashier stuff stand out more. We see this all the time in great guitar players. Typically, most of their solos involve less technical phrases with memorable hooks and motifs that lead up to a climax where they pull out their more advanced techniques. The advanced techniques shouldn’t be used to mask the lack of phrasing using fewer notes. If you are able to make 4 or 5 notes sound expressive, you can make anything sound great.
These are really useful ideas to make you sound more professional and can be used no matter what your current skill level is. An important point here is to have fun at whatever skill level you are at, and the ideas presented here are great ways to help you achieve that while still working on increasing your skills.
Learning to play guitar on your own can be frustrating and challenging, especially if you don’t know what to do. Having a great teacher makes the whole process more fun, enjoyable and gets you real results fast.
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