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  • Writer's pictureAaron Carrington

5 Overlooked Elements of Guitar Playing

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Been playing guitar a while?

Trying to get to grips with more complex ideas?

But no matter what you do, it's not sounding quite right?

man playing les paul sunburst

That’s OK. It takes time and persistence to develop the nuances of a seasoned professional.

However, there are a few things you can think about when trying to emulate your heroes.

Here are 5 overlooked elements of guitar playing.

1. Vibrato

Have you ever taken the time to listen to the way that different guitar players perform their vibrato? Seriously, after reading this, you should find solos from your top three players and just listen.

Each player will have their own distinct flavour. Is it fast like a buzzy bee or slow and controlled? Is it somewhere in between?

Vibrato is like a signature. It’s a stamp that tells you which player you’re listening to. I highly suggest trying to emulate those three players and over time as your ears grow more finely tuned, you’ll hear even finer differences.

2. Smooth Chord Changes

Whenever you change chords, it should be virtually unnoticeable. What I mean is; you shouldn’t hear any physical sign of the chord change apart from the actual chord itself.

Still confused?

It’s often the case that a developing guitar player will accidentally play open strings in between the chords. In effect, they haven’t quite mastered changing quickly enough.

Don’t worry, this is super common and I used to do it myself. Learning to change chords smoothly will happen over time and with practice but the first step is simply becoming aware of the problem.

Once you start to hear those open strings sounding in between chord changes, you can work on ironing out the creases.

3. Playing Too Fast

This point ties in with the previous. Trying to speed up too quickly can become your enemy. Basic movements must first be mastered at a slower tempo to a metronome; this is how muscle memory is created.

Once the movement feels natural, only then should you start trying to up the speed and that counts for whether you’re trying to play a solo or just nail some chord changes like above.

Developing good muscular coordination will happen over time and with regular practice. Just try not to run before you can walk.

4. Hard Attack

I still remember way back in music college in 2010 I was asked to learn a piece of music and play it for an assessment. I picked a Jazz piece called ‘Johnny & Mary’ by Martin Taylor.

Considering that I'm primarily a rock guitar player, it was a big undertaking. Performance day came, I was nervous of course and after playing, one of the teachers said ‘your attack is too hard’.


No one had ever mentioned that before but sure enough, I instantly thought, ‘they’re right... damn!’

I’d spent so much time focussing on all the complicated left hand stuff that my right hand was too tense and causing me to attack the strings too fiercely.

Here’s the important bit… You should be able to hear more of the actual note and less of the ‘cha’ sound as your pick hits the strings; this is especially true when using a clean tone. Too much tension in the right hand is often the cause.

5. Playing Only What You Know

Practising your current repertoire is definitely important but don’t forget the aim is to keep moving forward.

Finding fresh things to play is going to keep it exciting and ensure your skills as a guitar player continue to develop.

With the internet and access to platforms like YouTube; there is literally no excuse not to find new material.

About The Author

Aaron Carrington the owner of Carrington Guitar Academy where you can get guitar lessons in bath or online

Aaron Carrington is the owner of Carrington Guitar Academy in Bath, UK. Since graduating from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London Aaron has played in high profile locations such as Buckingham Palace, The Savoy and The London Eye.

He’s been a regular part of the UK wedding and corporate gig scene and has travelled internationally to the Middle East to play in top quality residency bands 6 nights per week. The finesse gained from this level of playing experience is passed on to his guitar students.

Now permanently in Bath, Aaron strives to deliver the highest standards of guitar teaching at Carrington Guitar Academy by offering a personalized lesson plan tailored to each student’s goals. You may also catch Aaron busking regularly on the streets of Bath. If you're interested in guitar lessons get in touch to book a FREE trial lesson!

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