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Category Archives for "Hacks, Tips & Tricks"

Electric guitar finger vibrato

Improve your Electric Guitar Finger Vibrato Technique

Hello! 

In this guide, our focus is on vibrato, it is part 2 of a series that started with string bending.

We are going to approach vibrato similar to the way we approached bends from my previous guide starting with the hand position.

Vibrato is like doing several mini or micro bends in a row.

Also, you’re not playing whole steps or half steps. You’re just going bending a little sharp then coming back. It’s very important to come back to the original note. Some people, whether with bends or vibrato, will bend the note up but fail to bring it back to the original note, so their bends and vibratos are always a little sharp and out of tune. 

Ultimately, when it comes to vibrato, what’s most important is your style preference.

However, there are some technical aspects to go over as well. For example, using the thumb and fingers of your right hand to mute the strings you aren’t playing and eliminate unwanted noise.   

Using a simple melody line, practice playing clean, clear vibrato using all of the strings of the guitar. 

You also want to practice your vibrato using every finger of your fretting hand, especially the first three (index, middle, and ring).   

Particularly important when it comes to vibrato is to know how much you’re going to use and when you are going to use it.

As far as styles go, the first one we can look at is the classical vibrato, which is a subtle side-to-side motion on the fret. Rather than changing the pitch, it gives just a little sustain and life to the note — you’ll see this technique used by players like Steve Vai and Alan Holdsworth. 

Now onto the more aggressive vibrato, where we’re changing the actual pitch, plus varying the speed of the vibrato. With regards to pitch, the further distance you bend from the original note, the more aggressive it will sound.

When it comes to the vibrato speed, faster is more aggressive, but be careful — if it’s too fast, it’s not going to sound very good. 

Think about vibrato in terms of a human voice. If a singer is always using vibrato on their voice, it would sound a little weird — good singers generally start out on a flat note, then introduce the vibrato at the tail end.  

This gives a sense of calm and control. It makes the note more interesting and keeps it going longer before it dies out. You can try out different variations of vibrato on a melody line by starting with a flat note, then adding a slow, subtle vibrato at the end, or try a more aggressive half-step vibrato. 

Try different combinations of aggression and speed. Also, experiment with where and how quickly you introduce the vibrato to the phrase. 

Of course you should also listen to some of the masters of great vibrato like Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Malmsteen, Vai, Steve Morse etc. So many great players you can listen to and check out their approach. They all have such unique, individual styles. 

Watch some videos of these players and just focus on their vibrato and when and where they use it.

A great song to check out is Steve Vai’s “For the Love of God.” How the song builds emotion with his use of vibrato is very natural.  

Vibrato can also reflect whether the player is in control or anxious — if the vibrato is super fast, it can sound like the player is tense or nervous. You want to relax. let it flow naturally and focus on control. If you approach it with confidence and control, you’ll play better and enjoy it much more. 

Another vibrato technique is to use the tremolo. This way, rather than bending the note sharp, you can start it flat and bring it back up. You have to make sure you let the bar come all the way back to the original point or else your note will be flat. 

Finally, when you play, try to be aware of the intensity, the pitch, the speed, and the acceleration of the acceleration of the vibrato, and do your best to control all of those aspects. I know I’m always going on about the fundamentals, but I feel it’s so important. Someone can be an extremely technical, fast player but if everything they play ends with a horrible vibrato it just doesn’t work. 

A guitar player who isn’t technical or fast, but has a beautiful vibrato — everyone wants to listen to them. 

Having good vibrato is the best way to give life to the notes you’re playing. 

Q&A from chat

On holding [muting] the rest of the strings. 

Yes. At least the strings that are closest to the one you’re playing. So if you’re playing the second string, you want to mute the third and the first strings. And we’re talking about playing rock and metal so you will probably use more aggressive vibrato techniques so muting strings becomes especially important, or else it ends up being nothing but noise.

 When you learn how to mute correctly, you can start to let some of that noise mix back into your playing — because the noise can be good too! You just have to know how and when to use it. 

How much of the vibrato is in the fingers — or is it 100% wrist?

For me it’s mostly the wrist — you can use the fingers, however there is more strength in the wrist. For longer, held out notes, the wrist will have much more endurance and strength. On the lower strings it’s a little different; you’re grabbing the strings rather than pushing, so the fingers handle that better than the wrist. 

If you’re on the third string, does your vibrato start up or down? 

That’s a good question … it doesn’t matter. It comes down to either what feels more comfortable or what the music calls for. If I’m using my first finger, I would start with the down motion simply because it’s easier for me — possibly because I’m left handed. Now if I’m using my third finger, it doesn’t matter. Either way feels okay for me. It’s whatever you are most comfortable with and whatever the next note is going to be and what string it’s going to be. 

Pinch Harmonics?

To be honest, I don’t know how to play them that well, because I’m not a big fan of using them. There was a time when everyone was using them and I just didn’t like them — I like the sound of the note or maybe something in between. 

Lack of vibrato in Jazz guitar.

You don’t hear a lot of vibrato in jazz guitar because of the strings and style, they have other ways to express or mimic vibrato. It’s just different — jazz guitarists spend a lot of time exploring harmonic possibilities with intervals and interesting arrangements. But if you want to play jazz and add vibrato to your phrases you totally can. There’s a lot of players doing that. 

On the Floyd Rose

With the bar it makes the vibratos sound different, mainly because you’re going flat and then back to the original note rather than going sharp and back. You can mimic the vibrato of the hand with the bar, but that’s not the idea with a Floyd Rose. 

2 How to bend guitar strings

How to Bend Guitar Strings for Fun and Profit

Today we are talking about bends and vibrato. Some of the key things to consider when trying to bend your guitar strings musically: 

  • Playing clean, without noise from the other strings.
  • Intonation
  • Bend speed

I’m showing you the way I do these techniques. Of course, there are many different ways to approach them. We play rock, so there are no rules, but sometimes I see some approaches that aren’t effective. 

Let’s start with some basic ideas for bends. Rather than a straight up and down movement with the fingers, think more in terms of rotation in the wrist for bends and vibrato. There’s more strength in the wrist than fingers — you are going to need that for those bends that go up a whole step or more. 

Another thing for bends is to reinforce the finger that’s bending the note with one of your other fingers. 

One thing you can do is practice half-step and whole step bends until you are comfortable doing them on all of the strings. Pay very close attention to your pitch, as it’s easy to go flat or sharp when bending strings. 

It’s important to make the proper faces when doing these exercises. That way, people will think you’re playing with feeling!

A good place to start practicing is on the third string on the twelfth fret — that is where the least amount of tension is. Then start moving onto other strings and frets. Certain areas of the neck, like near the nut, can be particularly challenging. Again, focus on the quality of the sound and intonation on your half-step and whole-step bends. Once you’re comfortable, you can start trying whole-step and a half bends or even two whole steps. 

The more you practice bends on different strings, and different areas of the neck, the more your ears will take care of the rest.

Soon, you will just know how much you have to bend the string to reach the correct pitch. If you switch guitars or tunings, you may have to readapt a little bit. It won’t be that much of a problem, and your ears will guide you.

Practice bends not only around the fretboard, but also focus on getting other fingers (index, middle, ring) involved.  

Now we want to play these bends clean, without a lot of noise, so muting the strings is important, especially if you’re playing live. When it’s really loud and distorted, it’s hard to control, you have to hold the other strings using the fingers on your picking hand. 

There are situations where you may want to have a little more string noise for an aggressive effect, but you still have to have control. 

How you mute the strings can also depend on what string you’re bending at the time. 

Let’s talk about the feeling or expression you want to come across in your bends. A lot of that has to do with how you reach the note you’re bending to. You can go straight to the note, or try slowing down the bend to give it a different feel. 

The more you use these bends and understand them, the more you will discover which works best for you. The bends and vibrato are your voice — it’s your way of approaching a melody. 

Now let’s quickly talk about reverse bends and how we release a bend back to the starting note. Here are just a few variations on how to approach a bend. 

The right bend can give a lot of life to a simple melody. 

For bends and vibratos, intonation is extremely important. Here is a simple exercise that focuses on the correct pitch when you bend your guitar strings. 

Take some time to go check out videos from all the master players (Hendrix, Vai, Friedman, Satriani, Gilmour, Morse etc.,) and just focus on their bends and vibratos. Forget about the technical shred stuff, scales, and all that. Just pay attention to how they bend, how they end a phrase, their nuances, and how they do it within the context of a song. You can recognize a lot of guitar players just by the way they use bends and vibratos. 

You’ll probably relate to a particular style over another and start by emulating that. Then, as you discover other masters, you start mixing those styles with your own, and all of that comes out in your own unique voice.

We are going to go deeper into vibrato in part II. 

Q&A from Chat

Bend guitar strings on standard fretboard vs. scalloped. 

It feels different. It’s easier on a scalloped fretboard, actually. I think that’s the idea. You’re not touching the wood, so less friction.

For bends and vibratos, the scalloped fretboard feels amazing. For chords and other stuff — I don’t know. With bands that have more than one guitar player, it could cause intonation issues — maybe.

Examples of players that use scalloped frets are Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Roth, and Yngwie Malmsteen, and they all perform by themselves. In bands with two guitar players, intonation is always a tricky thing. 

My fingers hurt.

No pain, no gain! Life is not easy, so you need to suffer! 

What happens is your fingers will hurt only if you play a lot, OR, if you don’t play and then suddenly play a lot.

If you play every day, it’s good because you’re not doing bends all the time. My fingers hurt during recording like if I’m playing a part over and over that has a lot of bends — then it hurts! 

What you have to be careful about is tendonitis, which is another thing entirely, I may talk about at another time.

Bending with the pinky. 

I don’t use the pinky a lot — but you could. Some people do, mainly for pentatonic licks. I tend to use the ring finger in those situations. If you feel more comfortable using the pinky, I think that’s fine. 

Continue improving your guitar technique

If you want to learn my formulas to improve your technique and progress faster, check out my online guitar course.

Here’s the link to the original bending guitar video on youtube.

Guide to fingerpicking on electric guitar

FingerPicking on Electric Guitar with patterns, licks and ideas

Hello! 

How are you guys doing?

Here we are going to talk about fingerstyle (or fingerpicking) technique.

I am going to show you the way I do it, but there are many ways to use fingerpicking on electric guitar. The idea here is to show a little bit of fingerstyle and, even if you’ve never practiced this technique, you should come away with enough patterns and fundamentals to begin using in your own playing. 

Let’s get started with the basics-of-the-basics-of-the-basics: getting the sound with the thumb then adding the first three fingers.

The idea is to do something simple, while still creating something that sounds cool.

Start with a chord or phrase that’s fairly easy to play and improvise around it. For this D minor example, the pattern is the thumb, first finger, second finger, third finger

Experiment with that pattern around the neck. You can even use some simple barre chords; just make sure you are playing these patterns slowly at first. Focus on control and tone. 

The other basic pattern is going to be: thumb, third finger, second finger, first finger.

Between these two basic patterns, you can play a lot of different stuff.

Simple! And now we can start improvising and creating different patterns. Another exercise we can work on involves using only the thumb, first finger, and second finger.

If you’ve seen any of my other lessons, you know I always talk about playing slowly to start.

Try to be consistent, get the flow, and then start to increase the speed.

Once you’re comfortable and a little more confident, you can experiment with making your fingerpicking more rhythmic and percussive. 

Finally, you guys aren’t asking me about what kind of pick I’m using!

I think Jeff Beck realized a long time ago, “I’m going to play with my fingers, so nobody will ask what kind of pick I use!”

One thing you can do using the same thumb-one-two-three pattern is to go down then up across the strings, starting on the sixth string, then the fifth, then the fourth. On the way back up, instead of thumb-one-two-three, you would do thumb-three-two-one.

Another variation you can try is something similar to the song “Feijão de Corda” (String Bean) off my second solo album, Universo Inverso.

As you can see there are many ways to use the technique. And with the rolling-like feel I use on songs like “Conquer or Die,” it can be applied in many ways — like adding octaves. Experiment with this more and more, and you can start to create some cool vibes.

And of course, we can’t forget the most famous one of all! Maybe you have heard it?  

The secret to this technique is to change the key right before you get demonetized. 

In Angra, we all liked to have some intros and outros using acoustic guitars, played by me and Rafael [Bittencourt]. There’s a song called “Rebirth” off the second album with this pattern.

Another one is off my new album Open Source called “Du Monde.”

For practicing runs and scales you can work on just using the first and second fingers.

One other thing that is good to know is, when you want to play all six strings, you will use your thumb for the first three. So it goes thumb-thumb-thumb-first-second-third.

You may think it would be easier with the pinky, but you have more control this way because the pinky is too short — I mean, maybe your pinky is as long as the rest of your fingers, but mine is not. So it’s easier and more precise this way. Another way would be to hit that last string with your index finger.

So just do the basics and combinations of the basics — practice just using your thumb and simple two-note patterns and chords using your first two fingers:

Some of these two-finger techniques could use another hour lesson just to get into! There are so many other examples. So many songs in Angra where we came up with something like this, where it’s just a thumb and one finger, much like U2’s The Edge in a way. 

Very Brazillion as well. That was composed by Rafael Bittencourt (Angra), an amazing thing that he created using just two fingers. It made a nice vibe for a song — simple and beautiful.

What I suggest for you to explore are simple things. That doesn’t mean easy to play — sometimes simple things can be hard to play.

It doesn’t have to be super complex chordal arrangements, just two-note patterns. Experiment with those as well as the basic thumb-fingers approach. 

And then just be happy playing music!

I hope you enjoyed this lesson! Share with your friends, other guitar players and check out some of the other guides here on Guitar Hacks and videos on my YouTube channel. 

My next lesson will be on the Lydian mode. There’s been a lot of questions about the mysterious Lydian mode — so let’s talk about it! 

Finally, I hope you all have had great holidays and I’m wishing you all the best for this new year! And it’s going to be a great year — because it cannot be worse than 2020, right? 

See you soon!

Kiko.

Q&A From Chat

What kind of fingers am I using? 

That’s a great question! My fingers are of different sizes with broken nails. My nails should not be a reference for anybody …

How do I take care of my nails?

As I said, I don’t — but I should! I was getting ready to do this video and saw that all my nails were broken! When I play live with Megadeth, my index nail always gets broken because of the intense riffs.  

Strings? 

I’m using 10-46 — again with the equipment! It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. It could be 8,9,10,11,12,13 … it doesn’t matter. Normally this [fingerstyle] is done on acoustic guitar or … the harp! So it doesn’t matter the strings.

Conquer or Die [Megadeth]:

It has the rolling feeling, right? Here’s another angle:

Once you get it — get the pattern — it’s not very complicated. The difficulty in this song is controlling the G string, because it’s always open. It can be a little difficult because that G is always ringing and sometimes it’s too loud. Then there is the other sections here:

What about the pinky?

I don’t use it. Fingerpicking on electric guitar is something that you must make your own. It might be that some others do — but normally the classical players don’t use it. Even the flamenco players who hit the guitar for percussive effect mainly use only the second and third fingers.

I think you can use it — you never know. You can try whatever you want — if it works for you. I’m left handed so anything with my right hand is, like, no … that would be like another two years of practice! 

On Brazillian guitarists being “special”

Brazil has a tradition of nylon string classical guitar. I think the main difference is, when you hear any electric guitarist from Brazil, they probably started on nylon acoustic guitar. The younger generation maybe not as much, but for sure there is always a nylon guitar around, so everybody plays a bit of nylon classical using fingerstyle … [fingerstyle] is a tradition of the Spanish culture, Flamenco, the Portuguese and all of South America with acoustic guitar or charango, tres [Cubano] or cuatro; different instruments, but all coming from the same cultural traditions. That’s why Brazillian players in general will play acoustic guitar more like the classical players. 

No Pain For The Dead? 

I don’t remember it, but something similar — some chords with open strings will sound good. Like when you do an E minor, you can leave the G open and let it ring out as you change chords.

sweep picking exercises

Sweep picking exercises and tips to improve your sweeping guitar technique

Here we are to talk about sweep picking exercises, and the five common mistakes people make when learning this technique. 

I have to say that I always had a lot of difficulty in applying this. I’m left-handed, so anything that involved the right hand was a struggle. So in the beginning, I was focused on alternate picking of players like jazz/fusion legend Al Dimeola, as well as guys like Paul Gilbert and Steve Morse. Then, at some point in the late 80’s, I started focusing on sweeping, thanks to music from Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, and Greg Howe. Those three were doing a lot of sweeps back then.

First Common Mistake: playing too fast with bad form. 

All of you who follow my lessons know that I’m always telling you to play slowly when learning a new skill. I believe that this is the ultimate technique where you HAVE to play slowly — almost always. And why is that? Because sweeps are very easy to play fast and sloppy, the notes mash together sounding more like a chord.

The way to practice sweep picking is to compare the tone of each note to your alternate picked tone – they should sound almost exactly the same.

Here’s an example using alternate picking, then switching over to sweep picking on that same chord shape. The tone shouldn’t change — you want to try and get both the sweep picking and alternate picking to sound as close as possible. 

See? It’s almost the same tone whether I’m alternate or sweep picking. I think if you keep that in mind, it’s going to change everything about your sweep skills. 

For this first exercise, we’ll start with the basic movements, focusing on the motion of right hand. Experiment with the dynamics by changing the angle of your pick and level of attack. 

This lick might seem fast, but it’s controlled. It’s not just a loose raking the pick across three or more guitar strings. You want the motion to be very controlled and consistent. 

Once you have control, it’s going to be a lot easier to do these sweeps fast. You can also start adding slides, legato, and tapping to your sweeps, as well as mix it up with alternate picking. Which we will go over in a moment. 

Whether you play jazz or rock, these techniques can be mixed into your playing. And I believe you can always take time to go deeper into one single technique, understand it better, then get better at using it. 

The Second Common Mistake: hopping  

Sometimes when players are trying to avoid the first common mistake, and are trying to make every note sound nice and clean, they start to sort of hop across the strings. 

This type of motion is not going to be effective! You lose the energy and timing when you attempt it this way — you might as well use alternate in that case.

Now, “hopping” can be effective for certain riffs, check out the Guide to Downpicking for examples of that, but for sweeps, It’s not good. So no hopping!

The Third Common Mistake: not focusing on good, consistent-sounding notes 

I mentioned this under the first common mistake, but it is very important.

Once again I suggest comparing your sweep picking sound to alternate picking. Spend some time to alternate between both, or even mix them up within the same arpeggios. 

The Fourth Common Mistake: poor rhythm control 

This is a struggle, even for me — I always say it’s because I’m left-handed, but it’s most likely because I didn’t practice enough! 

Breaking things up into shorter passages, like two, three, or four notes, is an approach you can use to give your sweeps a more rhythmic quality. 

Experiment and improvise with finger position, chord shapes, timing, syncopation, and division of the notes within the arpeggio. This will open you up to new ways to use this technique in your music and make things more interesting than just the straight-up-and-down sweeps. 

The Fifth Common Mistake: poor left hand synchronization and muting

When you use distortion and high gain it’s, important to know how, and when, to mute the strings. Muting is so important I may do some video lessons focused entirely on that. 

Basically, it’s a matter of placing your palm lightly across the bridge and finding the sweet spot: 

It’s a very small area being muted, and just a tiny amount of pressure from the palm of the hand, but it makes a big difference in the tone. 

Now let’s take a look at the left-hand finger positions. You have to be able to articulate the notes by synchronizing the fingers of your left hand with the motion of the right for it to sound clean.

There are some patterns and shapes that will be more difficult to sweep pick cleanly. These are shapes where you might have to barre your finger across the strings to do the lick. For these exercises, the right-hand string muting becomes very important in the articulation. Sometimes it’s easier to find another way to play these shapes and avoid having to barre the notes. 

Speed is not the problem with sweep picking, the problem is playing articulate, with rhythmic control, and with good tone. It’s not about playing fast.

With alternate picking, it’s easier to have better timing because you usually practice it with a metronome, but it’s harder to play fast. With sweeps, and with legato and tapping, it’s easier to play faster, but harder to play with good control. So it’s important to practice these techniques slowly and using different rhythms and syncopations.  

Again, start slowly. Never try to be super fast with sweep picking —  that’s not the way to master the control of this technique. 

Also, no “hopping” or jumping to each string with sweep arpeggios. Pay attention to muting and synchronization with right and left hands. Practice exercises with different chords, rhythms and syncopation. Focus on the quality of the notes and tone; remember, the notes should sound comparable to alternate picking, whether it’s legato, tapping, or sweeping. 

This is basic stuff, I’m not throwing out complex scale patterns or anything fancy, because I believe in showing the foundation of the technique and leaving it up to you to be creative with how you use it. 

Finally, you can download the backing music for “Vital Sign,” off my new album Open Source. Take some time to practice simple sweep patterns to that. The chords are C major, D, E minor or C major, and A minor. 

Q&A

On whether to hold the pick at an angle or not while playing sweeps

You can do it that way. I don’t angle the pick very much, there’s a little more attack when the pick is straight, but angled might be a little easier. You can try a little something in between and see how that sounds. 

Another example of the pick angle here:

Do you always repeat the last note [string] of the arpeggio? 

The easier way to start, I believe, would be to repeat the last string, So, on the way up you hit the E string on a downstroke, then again coming back with the upstroke. 

Of course, you shouldn’t become dependent on always repeating the same strings in a phrase. One thing you can do are exercises that break up the arpeggio at different points of the scale. This will help you execute these arpeggios without repeating strings.  

Equipment: 

Today I’m plugged into the Archetype by Nolly, Neural DSP plugin Nolly mixed my album; he’s a great engineer and knows all about good tone. Also the Archetype lead with some modifications on that preset, no delays and just a little bit less gain. 

The pick I am using is a 1.14 mm. But the pick doesn’t really matter — unless it’s too thin — then it probably matters for sweep picking.

Arpeggios from Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”

Yes! In the ’90s, Angra recorded Painkiller for a tribute album. I did a different arpeggio during the solo on that. You can probably find it online somewhere. 

Kiko for president? 

No thank you!

4 downpicking

Downpicking: Improve your Guitar technique with Kiko

Right now, we’re going to talk about downpicking, how to master it, and what are some exercises we can use to improve our technique. 

Remember, every Thursday I am going to be here. I’ll either show you something new, give a lesson, or offer my point of view and discuss some of the main topics when it comes to performing.

A lot of people ask me about downpicking and I have to start this live stream by saying this: I am not a master at downpicking like Dave Mustaine or James Hetfield.

I tend to use alternate picking, but often, it’s very important to use downpicking because of the tone and the energy you get from it. That’s what I’m going to talk about, and give you some tips to develop this skill. 

Normally when I’m home I improvise and solo, or I’m composing, I’m not practicing riffs that much, so I’m a little out of shape. One thing that is very much related to this is endurance — that’s something we’re going to talk about. 

Again, what I like to do with these lessons is to talk about the fundamentals and the basics, things like right-hand position and so forth. 

The idea is to first find the best right-hand position and to understand the variety of tones you can get from just a simple E note (6th string). I’m not talking about speed — speed is one of the things we’ll have to worry about later, but before that let’s talk about the hand position and other things. 

Try to practice moving your right hand around without changing the dynamic or the speed. This is important for both rhythm and solo.

Now I’m going to find a sweet spot with a tone that I like and show you how you can change the sound with just a slight movement of the palm.  Watch how I start open and then notice the tone change as my palm touches the strings. 

The placement of your palm can depend on what kind of guitar you have and the type of bridge. So you’ll have to feel where it sounds right. Those differences in the tone vary with just the tiniest of movement of your palm.  And it’s the same dynamic when using chords. 

Another thing to consider is the angle at which you hold your pick. You can hold it parallel or at an angle — each gives you a little different tone.  

How you hold your pick is more of a personal preference. What does matter is that you are relaxed. Allow your arm to rest against the body — of course, this can depend on the guitar shape. If you have a flying V that could be difficult. I don’t like flying Vs — I mean I like them, I love the shape — pretty metal! They’re just hard for me to play. I’ve been using these [Ibanez Kiko Loureiro Signature] for so many years, I’ll try to play Dave’s [Mustaine] model and I have no idea how to hold that thing! 

You might start to feel some pain in your shoulders to your wrists, especially if you are tense or try too hard without knowing how to properly build endurance.

Try downstrokes with the other strings as well — again it’s just a matter of finding the right position for your right hand.  

Now let’s talk about consistency versus speed, and consecutive downstrokes for longer periods. What I suggest when practicing — and this is something I talk about in my program at guitarhacks.com — is practice riffs and solos if it were live, with no second chances. That is how you are going to build endurance.

So what I’m going to do is jam for a solid three minutes with the tempo around 165 bpm.

The concept is similar to how a boxer would train — three minutes playing and a one-minute rest in between — because that’s how it is in a live situation. 

 It also depends on your style of music; in my case, I’m not going to see songs that are much faster than this, so my focus is going to be on quality and consistency for the entire song. I think three minutes is a good number, you could do five mins since metal songs are usually between three and five minutes long. I have a timer set on my metronome so here it goes: 

It might seem boring since it’s three minutes of this but focus on your arm as you do this — make sure you are still relaxed. 

Forget about speed for that duration; 100 – 110 bpm, it doesn’t matter, it’s cool to jam like this [slower], it gives a different vibe. Just do it for three minutes straight. I know there are styles that are much faster, but that was never for me to play downstrokes at 210 bpm or faster.

If there happened to be a situation where I did have to play that fast, I would practice in these three-minute increments and I know I would be able to eventually play it. Not a problem.

 It depends on your style; if you want to jam like AC/DC, you won’t need that, but if you want to play some faster, more aggressive styles like Slayer or death metal type riffs and solos, then you’re going to need practice.

So I’m going to increase the speed to 180 bpm — in my opinion, you have to be able to do at least three minutes of consistent, quality at one speed before moving on and increasing the speed.

Remember to stay relaxed and maintain control. 

Balance and consistency are the aims. We’re not focusing on speed but endurance — that is what you are really going to need on stage. 

Lastly what I want you to focus on during some of these practice routines is composing and creating your own riffs and solos. You may have noticed during the three-minute exercise that I was playing random riffs — improvising riffs and ideas. So you can use those three minutes exploring different things. You’re still downpicking and the tempo is the same, but you experiment with what chords you use, where you use them, as well as the placement of single notes. 

Three main points to downpicking:  

  1. Right-hand position
  2. Endurance
  3. Being creative 

Let’s start by using a simple power chord based off the E minor scale similar to what Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath would use.

If you play metal, it’s going to be minor as most metal is, but say you want to get into some weirder, darker territory. You might not know a lot of theory, but through experimenting you discover the tritone, B flat. And you might discover the F,  just a half step up from E. It all starts to create this tension. 

So now you have three weird notes and a minor scale, now we can try using some Metallica type power chords with our bpm set at 170. 

You are jamming for three minutes so give yourself freedom to try different things. I’m doing power chords to make it simple but you can use more full-sounding chords, like the 9th or major 7th chords, or maybe something with open notes in addition to more traditional power chord things. 

I hope everyone enjoyed this lesson on downpicking!

 Once again, every Thursday we’ll be here discussing a new topic. And my next topic is fingerpicking, so subscribe to the channel and set the Youtube reminder to notify you of the next livestream.

Topics from Chat

On harmonics: 

 I think they’re cool, but I try to avoid using them because everybody does them. They still sometimes happen! 

Equipment: 

I’m using my Ibanez signature model and the Neural DSP, Fortin Cali plugin. There’s a little bit of reverb as well. The Neural DSP has more high gain amps, but I like this one — it’s pretty heavy, but more traditional sounding. Like a British high gain. And I plug straight to the Neural DSP. 

On Pain: 

I know about pains and tendonitis. The thing is, you have to build up to things — every time I experienced pain and tendonitis was because I wasn’t doing the right thing. I would be on tour, tired and not do a proper warmup, then going straight to the concert and giving 110%. 

Also, I might play more sitting down but on stage I’ll have it hanging lower, which isn’t very healthy for the wrists — but if you do it right, you shouldn’t have any pain. You have to build up to things. It’s like anything; you go to the gym and try to lift something super heavy, or decide to do a 20k out of nowhere it’s going to be awkward — you have to build up to it. 

On his T-shirt: 

Like my t-shirt? You know? the techniques! You can purchase it at my store — as well as the tabs and other cool things.

https://www.kikoloureiro.com/

 Of course there’s other techniques, but I tend to think in terms of alternate, legato, sweeps and tapping. We could add fingerpicking or some other stuff, but this is just because of the Beatles T-shirt: that first one that just had the four names, 

How to avoid hitting strings during the up motion while downpicking: 

I would recommend that you start slower and concentrate on not hitting the strings — if it’s still happening, slow it down even further, try to see if you can notice where the problem is. 

On whether to play with your hand open or closed: 

It depends — I do it both ways. It feels more relaxed when my hand is open, but not open like George Lynch style, with fingers wide open — just more relaxed. But if you feel more relaxed and controlled playing with a closed hand then that’s good. 

It also has to do with how I hold my pick. 

How to work on relaxation: 

If you just start slowly and pay close attention to where it begins to be a struggle.  You begin to know when to push it to the next level. I go over some of this in my program at guitarhacks.com. There are some free lessons there and you can join our community. 

Strings: 

I’m using D’addario NYXL 10-46. That’s what I use when I am in standard tuning and for solos. Live, with Megadeth, we are in D standard.  For that I use the 10-52 NYXLs, because of the riffs and the energy I put into performing live, I prefer the 10-52s in that situation. There was a moment when I was using 11s in standard tuning, but that was just too much! 

When I’m recording my album and doing the rhythms, I will use a heavier guage. Because when you’re recording rhythms and start doubling the tracks, you can encounter intonation issues, so it’s nice to have the heavier gauges. The Evertune bridge is great for that as well.  

Heavier strings tend to give better intonation if you are hitting them harder — also having a fixed bridge or blocking the tremolo. 

Conquer Or Die: 

It’s all downpicking, very much inspired by Eddie Van Halen. Basically like Ain’t Talking About Love but in a metal way.  

Learn more about Kiko’s Complete Guitar Workout Strategy

I have an online Guitar Camp where I cover techniques and show you the recipe for making consistent progress.

Let me ask you some questions:

How much of your time was spent practicing guitar this year? Are you still playing the same riffs and licks from last year? And the year before that?

When was the last time you had a REAL breakthrough in your playing?

Over the years I have been optimizing my practice routine to where I am always ready to perform at my best, no matter what the situation (like performing for 50,000 people at a festival), and in the shortest amount of time.

This course is just that.

I designed to entirely re-educate the way you study: with focus and discipline.

With this course, you’ll have the tools to master the most essential guitar techniques, including: alternate picking, sweep picking, hybrid picking, legato and tapping.

You will learn to effectively measure your progress. Develop better habits and correct mistakes as they happen so you will learn things faster, the right way, the first time.

Click here to learn more.

Cheers my friends!

13 hybrid picking on electric guitar

Hybrid Picking on Electric Guitar by Kiko Loureiro

Hello everyone!  

This is a transcript of my “how to master hybrid picking on electric guitar video” that I recorded live from Helsinki on Nov 26th 2020. 

Today we’re talking about hybrid picking on electric guitar. As usual, we’re going to start with the basics and fundamentals. Let’s get started!

Some people have been asking in the chat about hybrid picking. While it shares some similarities with fingerstyle, it stands alone as a technique.

Hybrid style is when you use your guitar pick and your fingers at the same time. I will also do a guide on straight fingerpicking later. 

First, let’s look at the finger position for this technique: 

I hold the pick between my thumb and index finger, then use my other fingers on different strings.

To get started, position your right hand in a way that allows you to palm mute. Begin with this simple exercise using a clean tone. The pattern goes one, two, three — pick, middle, and ring finger.

Create simple ideas. There’s a lot of small patterns you can learn. Alternate middle and ring on the open E and B strings, add the pick for bass notes. (Video 5:36).

Keep the middle and ring fingers playing open strings then try moving the bass note around.

Start very slowly to understand the movement — that’s very important. 

Remember, practicing is not playing. You’re here to understand the hand movements, so start very slowly. Look and observe: make sure everything is in place. 

Try to figure out what’s the best position for you. Play very slowly and try to understand the best placement for your right hand.

These basic ideas I took from classical fingerstyle guitar. I don’t know much about country guitar, so most of my hybrid picking ideas come from my fingerstyle guitar training.

Here’s one I learned from Steve Morse, in his video from the 90s, #backtobasics. This is a very good exercise if you’ve never played with this technique.

Just one string, pick and finger on the same string. Same note, varying dynamics and muting.

But why do that? I could just alternate pick it, right? Listen to the difference in the guitar’s tone and expression. I can snap with my finger and play light with my pick. There’s a lot of nuances you can apply.

You can also try playing scales then doubling each note with a finger.

In this example, the upstrokes are with the middle finger and downstrokes are with the guitar pick playing on a G Major scale.

I believe the main benefit of hybrid picking is the tone you get. String skipping is difficult with alternate picking, and practically impossible using sweeps. With hybrid picking and fingerstyle you can do some very big jumps.

The tone, the nuances, and expression you get gives you a lot of range and possibilities. Even in this example where I’m playing all A notes on three different strings.

We have the 5th string, 3rd string and 1st string.

Starting on A, it’s one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three … Instead of doing one, two, three, one, two, three … That would be the easier pattern, or groups of four. 

Imagine having to try this with a pick — impossible. Not easy 

Once you get the idea, it’s simple. You hit the A note on three separate strings. Start with having your fingers positioned over the right strings.

Let me show you another pattern: It’s a basic 9th chord and a 5th, a power chord. You guys like power chords.

So now when I play the same pattern, It’s similar to the guitars in “Dystopia.”

So it’s always the same pattern, simple stuff — simple, but not easy. 

The concept is simple because we’re using power chords or a power chord with the 9th added. It’s not a fancy, complex chord. And the pattern is the same pattern all the time: one, two, three, four five, one, two, three …

 I’m always talking about how practicing is different from playing.

Because if you just play, you’re probably not going to have the time to explore the technique, the sounds, and the hand positions. So it’s important to get a half-hour or an hour a day to explore the movements, the sounds, and possibilities. Afterward, when you do play or jam some guitars, compose, and do your own stuff, you’ll see that your playing will be better quality and more precise.  

Once you have more precision, you’ll feel more confident, and once you feel more confident you can be more creative. Because when you get confident you’ll start exploring different stuff. Then ideas start coming and you feel more creative and everything happens easily.

I really think that’s the way. You practice and then you apply what you’re practicing. You start to get some confidence in what you’re doing — and this confidence makes you explore more and more. 

Exploring is when you find your own voice, your own ideas, and your own flow. It’s when you start writing your own songs, your own licks, and your own improvisations.

One day we can chat more about being creative and all that, I think it’s an interesting subject.  But that’s a talk for another time. 

So we have basic exercises starting with the right hand, playing just one note. Then on to some easy patterns to more complex patterns . 

You can try moving these patterns around. It’s a little bit more complicated, but we’re getting there. 

I think you guys can understand the way you build from a simple thing, using a new technique: hybrid picking, then starting with simple things and build to more complex stuff. 

So let me know if you guys are liking this. We do these every Thursday. So share this with somebody: your friends, especially your guitar playing friends. It’s always good having more people here.

One thing that is very important: after you share and subscribe to the channel, leave your comments here at the chat, but also go to the video and leave a comment there. Give me feedback on hybrid picking or anything else that you want to know about. That helps me think of lesson topics for the next Thursday session. 

Also, each time you learn something different, try to apply it right away. If you’re a beginner, just try to play the simple hybrid picking with the down up, down up.  Try to get a pattern and explore different chords and chord progressions. Check if you can mute and play some string skipping, explore more harmonies, and maybe try playing solos you already know using hybrid picking instead of alternate picking. Try to switch from sweep picking to alternate picking to adding hybrid picking to solos you are already playing. Everytime you get something, apply it right away, otherwise it gets lost. 

I want you to apply this technique somehow, even if it’s a little thing — like you play a solo and do a simple phrase with that kind of sound — you could also do something like this pattern here

Last thing is to show you something from my new album, a song called “Sertão.”

I’m using the hybrid technique with this pattern. It’s in B minor and I’m using an open triad. 

Coming back to the example: After the first pattern I change to a D chromatic D flat, B, and c minor. Then I play e minor, then major starting with the third inversion — I’m not going to talk about chords or harmony here, so as to not make it confusing. I’m always thinking in terms of Brazilian music in a way. 

Now let me show it in context with the song.

That’s a way you can apply the technique and the pattern within the context of a song. 

It’s pretty hard to play hybrid or fingerstyle with lots of gain, I like to play in a way that’s more percussive as opposed to actually hearing the notes. It’s very precise and nice and clean, I like playing that kind of lick in a percussive way.

If you have questions about hybrid picking or anything else you want to learn during these live streaming sessions, leave a comment in the comments section — I always take your feedback into consideration what you guys are saying and asking, 

So I think we covered the basics of hybrid picking on electric guitar! Leave your comments, subscribe to the channel, and set the reminder for the live stream next Thursday. 

Next Thursday I will be discussing downpicking ie: using downstrokes only. 

Thanks everybody!

Q&A From Chat

How do you mute the highest strings?

The muting technique is always the same in a way — I am using my palm to mute. It’s a very good idea to just practice the muting — find a position that mutes all the strings. Play with changing the pressure of your palm muting so you can get different sounds.

Again this is not going to happen if you just play, like a backing track on youtube. You’re not going to find It this way — you have to stop and feel the strings. Try to figure out what’s the best position. Play something very slowly and try to understand the best placement for your right hand. Practice dynamics and explore as much as you can as you will use this muting for everything.

On guitarist, Chimbinha:

Of course, he’s the master of hybrid. 

I actually use this technique in “Dystopia” and a lot of my solos. Other players like Mark Knoffler and Steve Morse use it a lot. Actually, I will say most of the modern guitar players use this technique because it’s a basic technique coming from all the classical [fingerpicking] players. It’s very natural, you have a pick, why not also use your other fingers?

You can hold the guitar pick somewhere else and use all your fingers, just like Jeff Beck, or many other players who rarely use one.

No pick = more feel

Of course, there’s more feel because you’re touching the strings, so you have much more, yeah … feel! More nuances, more expressions you can hear, right? That’s why we do the hybrid technique — we want the sound and power of the pick, but also have the expression of the fingers. 

On switching your pick angle when using hybrid picking 

For me, I’m always using parallel. It makes more sense to be parallel because of the hand position. So it doesn’t change much for me using the hybrid approach, but if you play one way then switch to parallel, I think it’s fine. There’s no problem at all.

On Bossa Nova being “Brazilion music”

Yeah, it can be about brazilian music, I’m not a Bossa Nova expert, as you can probably tell by my guitar, but I do like a lot of songs — I know some stuff about Bossa Nova.

Outside of Brazil, people take bossa nova as Brazilian music, that would be like considering Be-Bop North American music, it’s not.  It’s a style of music from a certain period of time. It is probably the most successful moment in brazilian music. 

About the song “Du Monde” from Open Source

For the song “Du Monde” I use it [hybrid] in the verse. It’s a little bit more complicated which is why I prefer showing “Sertão” — it’s basically the same pattern. It’s already quite difficult to play, mainly because there are two different parts for the guitars. In “Du Monde” I’m playing a more complex chord progression, maybe another time I can show how I develop the melody and technique for that. 

On using hybrid techniques in Angra

I’ve been using this since the late 90s — there’s a riff from Angra [“Silence and Distance”], let’s see if I remember it. [45:25] Something like this — or similar — I remember the producer saying, “No! What is this?” like it was not “metal” enough. So the producer said, “No way. Play with a pick!” 

Probably because I was not very sure how to play the riff. I wanted to use that technique, but I was not there yet — then on the next album, Fireworks, I was able to do add some hybrid technique, and then more and more. Now I play like that all the time. 

On “Graystone Gateway” off Sounds of Innocence.

 I’m playing with a pick. If I’m not ready for it, I might play it hybrid, because with a pick it’s too fast; 140 bpm or something, but I would prefer to use alternate picking — although it’s quite difficult on that one. 

On choice of picks.

It’s not about equipment! It’s this one here — my Ibanez guitars. 

But the pick doesn’t matter, the guitar doesn’t matter, what strings you use, the amplifier and the cable, to learn how to play guitar — it can be an old acoustic that you got from your family, which is what happened to me. 

And then if you become a professional, and you have the money, you can enjoy having more expensive stuff and things that are more reliable — then of course you can buy a Kiko signature guitar, and Neuro DSP plugins, and a good camera … but to LEARN how to play, I believe it doesn’t matter. You just have to feel comfortable: no old instrument where the strings are very high, high action, or old strings that don’t stay in tune anymore with horrible intonation. 

On Steve Lukather’s sweep picking skills. 

He’s a great player, man! I don’t know exactly about his sweep picking, but it’s probably really good. 

On breaking a nail. 

I did talk about my fingernail that is completely broken, it’s kind of getting stuck when I try fingerstyle — so it’s not ideal [for fingerpicking].

I hope you enjoyed this guide on hybrid picking on electric guitar, stay tuned every Thursday for a new live on my youtube channel!

24 Guitar Technique is confidence

How Guitar Technique builds Confidence

All the time and effort we put into becoming better guitar players should ultimately amount to one thing: freedom. By that, I mean the freedom to play anything we want in front of anybody — and do it with confidence. I want to express to you that effortless technique is actually what gives us that confidence.

Technique for the sake of it

When I first started, I was mainly concerned with guitar technique for the sake of it, playing fast, and nailing those difficult solos from my favorite players. However, after I became a professional musician playing for large crowds, or important people, and spending time in the studio, I realized something: Yes, it is about the speed and technique — all of that. But more importantly, it‘s about being confident. 

What is confidence?

That doesn’t mean you won’t get nervous. You might get nervous because you’re playing in a big venue, or playing in front of one of your heroes or a label showcase, every situation is different. Confidence means that you can be sure you are going to deliver in the best way, no matter what that situation is. 

The role of practice

That’s why we practice. So we can play whatever song or lick with so much confidence that it seems like we’ve been playing it forever. Practicing is not a competition for who is the most fast or technical. It’s about getting out there and playing with confidence! 

Guitar technique is not just about speed or flash, it’s about building confidence.

Technique is important, but not just for playing fast and showing off. Technique gives us the freedom to play anything we want with the confidence to perform in front of anybody. Whether it’s in front of thousands of people, your significant other, or by yourself, that confidence is how we are able to give our best performance. Every time. 

This is actually why I created Guitar Hacks and my complete workout strategy course. To help as many guitar players achieve the skills they need to be able to express themselves musically.

3 How to play songs on electric guitar

Learning How to Play Songs on the Electric Guitar

 Learning how to play songs on the electric guitar can be a struggle. Often we get stuck on a difficult passage or phrase and as a result we’re tempted to give up. My goal is to give guitar players the tools to play what they want to play, and to play it well. When learning a new song, it’s important to have a good structured approach. 

Choosing a song 

When choosing the song you want to play, you want to pick something that will push your playing, but not overwhelm you with advanced technique. Starting with something too technical can leave one feeling defeated. Learning how to play songs on the electric guitar should be fun.  

Mapping out the song

  • Actively listen to the song. Reference tablature if available. 
  • Find the difficult passages.
  • Pay attention to the technique being used and what technique you need to work on.
  • Isolate the difficult passages and build musical exercises from them.
  • Integrate these elements  into your practice routing.

Complete Workout Strategy

Break difficult passages into smaller sections. Try it using my four phase Guitar Workout strategy to practice these sections. 

I. Play the part very slowly at first (fundamentals). 

II. Play along with music to get a feel for how it works in the song (musical exercises). 

III. Increase the speed beyond where you can comfortably play it (out of the plateau).

IV. Play the passages in different positions using the entire fretboard. Connect them to other licks you have learned and integrate them into your playing. 

Now that you have the difficult passages mastered, play along to the entire song, or backing tracks — this way, you can get a feel for how it works within the song.

This is also a great opportunity to make a musical exercise and include in your regular practice routing as I explain in my “Secret to rapid success” video: 

The secreat to rapid progress

Conclusion 


Learning how to play songs on the electric guitar doesn’t have to be frustrating. And with some patience and discipline, you’ll be playing challenging licks and phrases effortlessly. If you’re serious about guitar playing, become a part of our Guitar Hacks community and watch my free videos on how to practice a challenging song.

40 concert guitarist community

Take a minute to tell Kiko what guitar lesson you want covered next

I want to help every guitar player be the best they can be without being held back by technique.

I want YOUR opinion: Tell me, what guitar lesson you want covered next?

Simply fill in this quick poll below.

After that, we will look at the result to influence what Kiko will record next, it only takes a minute.



Is Anything obvious missing from this poll?

I am looking forward to discussing in the comment section below, what guitar lesson have you been waiting for and why?

29 How I Eliminate Tension In My Guitar Playing

How I Eliminate Tension In My Guitar Playing (And You Should Too)

Many of you wanted to know what kind of exercises I use to avoid tension in my playing. 

All guitarists struggle with playing with too much tension. And while tension can’t be eliminated completely — and is even necessary to properly play the guitar — playing with too much tension can make things unnecessarily difficult. It can affect our fluidity and accuracy. It can also be painful, and in some cases, cause physical damage. 

For this video I’m going to show you a simple yet powerful exercise I use to avoid tension in my playing, and to play softly and more fluidly. 

I’ll start by choosing a particular lick or scale. For example a B minor arpeggio, but it can really be anything you want. Once I’ve chosen a particular lick, I rest my fingertips on the strings so they are barely touching, then play the lick. It’s probably not going to sound very good at first, but that’s ok. Rather than a clear, defined note, I should only hear a muted clicking or harmonics when I do the run. 

After going through it a few times this way (lightly touching the strings), I begin to gradually add more pressure until I can hear clear, defined notes. Once I start to hear the notes clearly — without any noise — I know I have found the “sweet spot”. What’s happening here is I’m teaching my brain, hands and fingers the minimal effort concept. You’ll quickly find it does not require that much pressure to get to the pure note. It’s barely more pressure than what I started the exercise with, but now I am getting the pure essence of each note and doing it with very little tension. 

It’s very important that you practice this exercise every day to achieve positive results. Approach this with the goal of playing with a softer touch. Over time, this simple exercise will greatly reduce the tension in your playing; your playing will become more fluid, expressive and accurate. And best of all, you’ll achieve it with minimal effort. 

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