Using Dynamics In Your Guitar Playing

A proficient guitar player can be spotted not by how quickly they can play notes, but the way in which those notes are played. I mean, who doesn’t like to shred every once in a while. However, the more I really listen to music the more I realize it is the dynamics and phrasing that I am drawn to.

On the other hand, whenever I hear a person playing a basic lackluster sounding guitar solo, it is always by a person who never learned how to control the dynamics in their playing.

So what is dynamics and why is it so important in your playing? To keep it concise, dynamics refers to how loud or soft you play your guitar/instrument.

Obviously that is a simplified version of the definition. To relate it to something you probably have experience with, think about the distortion you use on your guitar. You can pick as firmly as you’d like, but compression on that distortion makes it so the volume does not actually change very much.

The tone is what you will hear change. When you pick harder you will hear more distortion and harms from the strings.

So for this article’s sake, to control your dynamics is all about controlling the force in which you pluck your strings. I recognize it can be so much more than this, but to start off simple we will keep it at that.

Mastering your dynamics will give you the ability to accent notes and manip- ulate tone at will. Which is just another way you can properly express yourself in your music. So how is this done? I have put together some easy exercises that you can start using in your own daily practice.

Even if you choose only one exercise to do a day, your playing will start to quickly improve:

It really is that easy. You don’t really have to extend your practice time at all. Just follow what I showed you in things you’ve already been practicing and you will start seeing the positive results! Enjoy!

Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.

Tommaso Zillio