Ways to Play an Electric Guitar
Most electric guitars are setup the same: six strings that you can tune to get the sound you are looking for. Different guitars are designed for different playing styles, and there are a number of ways you can produce different sounds and effects with an electric guitar.
One of the easiest ways to change how your guitar sounds is by tuning it in a different key. Tuning your guitar can give it a cleaner sound for playing classic rock, or you can tune it differently for a harder, less defined sound characteristic of heavy metal. In order to play certain songs, you may have to retune your guitar.
Another technique for getting a different sound from a guitar is altering how you manipulate the strings. Some musical genres emphasize strumming to produce rhythmic chords, while some harder music is produced by aggressively hitting the strings. Using a different pick to manipulate the strings can also change the sound, as well as being more suited to certain types of music. Other genres focus on "picking" the strings, which is typically playing notes ones at a time to get a very defined and clear sound. There is an endless list of techniques for manipulating guitar strings to create a different sound.
Another popular option for changing your guitar's sound is the use of various effect pedals that plug into the line that connects the guitar to the amp. Effect pedals can have several positions, but most have an on and off position that allows the guitar player to simply step on the effect pedal to get a different sound. These effect pedals typically have a couple of factors you can tune to your liking, such as tone and distortion. Some musicians will use several effect pedals to produce a wide range of sounds and effects with their guitar.
Some guitar players think outside the box when it comes to getting a unique sound from their guitar. Tom Morello of Audio Slave and Rage Against the Machine uses a variety of objects to manipulate the strings on his guitar and get a different sound. Tom Morello has been known to play his guitar with an electric drill, as well as using the cord that connects the guitar to the amp to play his guitar. Another technique that was popularized in the late 90's was playing a guitar very close to an amplifier to cause interference between the amp and the guitar and create a type of musical feedback.
Once you learn the basics of playing an electric guitar, the possibilities are endless. There are so many different playing techniques and various effect pedals, as well as guitars and amps that you can experiment to get the sound you are looking for, and maybe even create a completely new style.
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