Guitarists who use unique techniques

Some guitar players are by-the-book with their playing style – and some take the book and throw it away, opting for unique and unusual guitar playing styles. 

Here are some guitarists who use unconventional playing styles:


Eddie Van Halen

“Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum 2” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Van Halen’s Eddie Van Halen popularized the two-handed tapping technique, showcased in the 1978 instrumental track “Eruption”. Van Halen explained that he watched Jimmy Page play the “Heartbreaker” solo in 1971 and was inspired. “He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string … pull off,” Van Halen said in an interview with Guitar World. “I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.”


Jeff Beck

“Jeff Beck” by MandyHallMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

English guitarist Jeff Beck is regularly included in lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. He had a creative approach to guitar, which involved incorporating the volume knob with his pick and thumb. He also experimented with distortion and feedback during his time in The Yardbirds, and utilized the whammy bar to create unearthly sounds out of his instrument.

 

Jimi Hendrix 

“Jimi Hendrix Experience-‘You Got Me Floatin”-1967″ by scottallenonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Another one of the most highly regarded guitarists of all time, Jimi Hendrix broke some guitar traditions by using feedback, distortion, wah, and even his teeth in his playing. A left-handed guitar player, he played upside down and backwards. Hendrix was able to play rhythm and lead simultaneously, a trick he perfected from years of playing in trios, and he rejected the typical barre chord fretting technique, instead fretting the low 6th string root notes with his thumb.

 

James Hetfield

“James Hetfield 2017” by Ralph Arvesen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Metallica’s James Hetfield has a unique way of holding his pick – he holds it with three fingers, like a pen or quill, instead of the usual two. Maybe that helps him with his signature style of downpicking riffs, creating a staccato sound. 

 

Marty Friedman 

“Marty Friedman – 01” by Hiroshi YamazakiCopyright holder: Marty Friedman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Megadeth’s Marty Friedman also has an unusual picking technique. He clenches his picking hand in a way that goes against the typical palm mute used in metal music. He also uses upstrokes vs. downstokes, picking by moving his fingers, also known as “circle picking”. 

Five little-known facts about Queen

British rock band Queen is one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, selling over 300 million albums around the world. They formed in 1970 and had multiple huge hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, and “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Here are some facts you might not know about the band:


Freddie Mercury designed the band’s logo

“Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1977” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Freddie Mercury, aka Farrokh “Freddie” Bulsara, studied art and graphic design in college. He created a crest insignia for the band, using each band member’s astrological symbol, a “Q”, a crown and a phoenix. The crest is still used by the remaining members of the band to this day. 


Lead guitarist Brian May has a Ph. D in astrophysics

“Brian May” by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

May earned his Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007. He held the position of chancellor with Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013 and was a science team collaborator with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He’s one of the co-founders of Asteroid Day, and has the asteroid 52665 Brianmay named after him. 

 

“Another One Bites the Dust” became a single thanks to Michael Jackson

Bass player John Deacon recalled that the King of Pop was hanging out with the band in the early 1980s and suggested that they release the track as a single off of their eighth album, The Game. They did, and it became their top-selling song of all time.

 

The original working title for “Bohemian Rhapsody” was “The Cowboy Song”

He originally intended the song to have a Western feel. You can hear it in the song’s opening line (“Mama, just killed a man”).

 

What’s your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist does it match with?

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

What’s your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist does it match with?

 

 

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

1 / 5

How did you learn/how are you learning guitar?

2 / 5

What’s your favorite thing about playing guitar?

 

3 / 5

What's your practice style?

4 / 5

What’s your idea of a great gig?

5 / 5

What’s most important to you as a guitarist?

 

What’s your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist does it match with?

What’s your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist does it match with?

 

 

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

1 / 5

How did you learn/how are you learning guitar?

2 / 5

What’s your favorite thing about playing guitar?

 

3 / 5

What's your practice style?

4 / 5

What’s your idea of a great gig?

5 / 5

What’s most important to you as a guitarist?

 

The seven deadly sins of playing guitar

Every guitar player makes mistakes. But some of those mistakes can become a hazard to your guitar-learning journey if you don’t correct them! 

 

Here are the “Seven Deadly Sins” of playing guitar: 


Not playing in tune

 

One of the simplest fixes for making your guitar sound better to learn on is to play in tune! A guitar that’s out of tune will never sound good – no matter who’s playing it. 

Get your guitar into the correct tuning with a tuning pedal, pitch pipe, or the built-in tuner in your Fret Zealot app. 


Playing with bad posture

If you’re slouching over your guitar, not only will it affect the way you strum – it can lead to back pain! Save your future self the trouble and make good guitar posture part of your practice routine. 

 

Not using a metronome 

Playing along with a metronome is a huge hack to make your guitar learning experience faster! Using a metronome makes it easier to keep a consistent rhythm in your playing, so that you’re playing accurately. You can use the metronome inside of the Fret Zealot app. 

 

Not playing with other people 

Even if your goal is to be a solo player, playing with other people will help you develop your skills and allow you to get into the groove. A great place to find people to jam with is an open mic night! 

 

Not listening back to yourself 

Listening to yourself play can be cringe-inducing for even experienced players – but it’s a great way to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are! If you’re working on a riff or progression, record yourself on your phone and then listen back. You might find that it sounds better than you thought! 

 

Giving up

 According to Fender, 90% of beginner guitar players quit within a year! Don’t let this be you. Quitting could close the door on a fun, exciting hobby that could bring you a lot of personal satisfaction and new opportunities! Fret Zealot has hundreds of easy-to-follow lessons that you can take anywhere, anytime, so you don’t need to adhere to a teacher’s schedule. Get started today! 

 

Five surprising facts about Nirvana

Nirvana, one of the best-selling bands of all time, was instrumental in bringing the grunge movement to mainstream music. With songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are”, they pioneered a genre that welded pop with noise, featuring lyrics that contained themes of nihilism and alienation. Nirvana disbanded after Cobain’s death in 1994. Drummer Dave Grohl formed the Foo Fighters and bassist Krist Novoselic devoted himself to activism.

Here are five surprising facts you might not know about Nirvana: 

 Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor at the high school he dropped out of 

“‘Twilight’ meets Nirvana” by quinn.anya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain dropped out of Aberdeen High School a few weeks before graduation, but briefly worked there as a janitor to help finance Nirvana’s first demo. The dancing janitor in the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a nod to that job.

 

Dave Grohl was not the original drummer. 

“Dave Grohl 1989” by Tobby Holzinger / Agentur Spirit is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Even though pre-Foo Fighters Grohl is an iconic member of the grunge band, he wasn’t the group’s original drummer. Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic were in the band since its inception, but the band had at least five drummers, including fellow grunge pioneers The Melvins’ Dale Crover. Melvins frontman Buzz Osbourne introduced Grohl to Cobain and Novoselic in time for the band’s 1991 album, Nevermind.

 

The band went through some interesting names before deciding on “Nirvana”…

…including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred. 

 

Their first single was a cover 

Nirvana’s first official release was a cover of “Love Buzz” by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue, who are best known for their 1969 song “Venus”. 

 

The title for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came from a joke Cobain didn’t get 

“With the lights out, its less dangerous, here we are now, entertain us” by dullhunk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The title for Nirvana’s 1991 grunge anthem came from a graffiti scrawl that Kurt Cobain’s friend and Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna put on his wall, “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit”. Hanna meant to make fun of Cobain for wearing his girlfriend’s Teen Spirit deodorant, but Cobain didn’t know what “Teen Spirit” meant and took it as a compliment.

 

READ MORE:

Learn how to play these Nirvana songs with Fret Zealot

Signature songs of famous bands – and their stories

Little known facts about Jimi Hendrix 

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.  He was one of the pioneers of utilizing guitar amplifier feedback artistically, and helped to popularize tone-altering pedals like fuzz distortion, wah-wah, and Uni-Vibe.

“Jimi Hendrix 1967-cropped waist” by A. Vente is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Here are some facts you might not know about the “Purple Haze” artist. 

 

His name was changed as a child. 

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in 1942, Hendrix’s name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix in 1946 in honor of his father, James Allen Hendrix (“Al”), and Al’s late brother, Leon Marshall.

 

He started playing on a ukulele with one string. 

Hendrix first got his hands on a string instrument while helping his dad with a side job. The client allowed Jimi to keep an old, one-stringed ukulele that was among the items being removed from her home – and he taught himself by ear to play Elvis Presley songs.

 

He was left handed. 

“Jimi Hendrix Experience-‘You Got Me Floatin”-1967″ by scottallenonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

One of the most famous left-handed guitar players of all time, Hendrix adapted by playing his guitar upside down. 

 

He played backup guitar for some huge stars. 

Hendrix started his professional career by playing guitar for some big names, including Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Ike and Tina Turner, and The Isley Brothers. At that time, he was playing under the name “Jimmy James”. 

 

He jumped out of planes while serving in the U.S. Army. 

Hendrix served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper, enlisting in 1961.  He was even awarded the Screaming Eagles patch in 1962 – however, he disliked being in the military, and later that year was granted a general discharge under honorable conditions. 

 

How to jumpstart your creativity

Do you sometimes struggle with creativity when it comes to writing music?

If you’ve hit a creative block and aren’t sure what to do, here are some useful tips to get your creative juices flowing once more. 

 

Go for a walk 

 

Put your guitar down for a bit, lace up your sneakers, and get walking! A 2014 Stanford study found that creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter – either indoors or outdoors. 

 

Listen to something new

Your Spotify playlist might have all your favorite songs, but it can be helpful to listen to something completely different to get your creative energy going. If you mostly listen to metal, try listening to some country. If you listen to mostly indie music, try some K-pop. Branching out into a different genre will help you get a new musical perspective – even if you don’t love the music. 

 

Spend some time in nature 

A Danish study from 2015 found that spending time in nature can help boost creativity by recharging directed-attention. Directed-attention is maintaining focus on a specific task, which can sometimes lead to mental fatigue. Bonus points if you take a walk in nature! 

 

Let loose

Writing music can sometimes feel daunting because of the pressure to write better and better – so why not write worse? Let yourself write something that’s silly or cliche – just for the pleasure of writing it. You might not add a song about dinosaurs to your next album – but it might help you unlock some really good ideas. 

 

Go see some live music 

Watching another band or artist play original music is a great way to find new inspiration. Check out a local band in your city – or go to an open mic night!