Sleight of Hand

A piece of wire strung across a piece of wood. The string is shortened against a pieces of metal in the wood. The resulting sound when the string is plucked could accurately be described as a “ping”. So how do we get from that lifeless ping to the almost voice like singing quality we all associate with electric guitar?

Sleight of handIts not the gear.

It doesn’t matter how expensive your gear is, how many vacuum tubes you have or which distortion pedal you use, its still a ping with a coat of electronic paint on it.

So how does one take the ping and make it sing?

Various things are involved. The first step is realising that pitch is a fluid thing. Playing an A at exactly 440 Hz is not necessarily going to sound best in every situation, it might sound better or “sweeter” played slightly sharp or flat, depending on what the music is doing around you.

The guitar is not like a piano, a harp or a zither. There are many ways to sound a note, even with a pick, and many more if you involve other fingers on either hand. Once the note is sounding, during that period when the string is vibrating on its own, you have a huge opportunity to make things happen. A sustaining note is not a passive act on the guitar.

This is one major area of study and practice. This is one of what I call the Three Cornerstones which we look at in detail in private teaching as well as  workshops.