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Back to: Instructions and Resources

Special Effects

There are some basic special effects that can add more interest to what you are playing. Here they are , briefly, so you can experiment with them:

1. Accenting

The next several special effects are done with the left (fretting) hand. They involve getting two notes for one strum; they are both a rhythm effect and a melody effect.

2. Sliding: Finger any note on the first string, and strum down once; then, immediately, slide your finger up (or down) one fret. You have to keep squeezing while you slide, you will hear a second note for the price of one strum. Sliding up (toward the sound hole) is a little easier to do. Usually the new note is an "+", an offbeat. You can put this "+" into a steady beat, like 1, 2, 3 + 4.

3. Hammering on: With all the strings open, strum down once. After strumming slam the tip of a finger onto the string, just behind the first or second fret. You will hear a second note. You can also do this from one fret to another, if you use your first finger for the first note, and your second or third finger for the next note. The timing is "1 +", the hammered on note is on the offbeat (the åã+åä). This will work going up (toward the sound hole), but not going down. For going down, we have....

4. Pulling off: Fret any note, then, after strumming, remove that finger, plucking the string as it goes. Timing is " 1+". You will hear your fretted note, then the open string. If you are careful, you can pull off from one fretted note to another fretted note.

5. Cutting off: Finger a note, strum down once, and then, while the note is still ringing, ease up on your squeeze, stopping the note abruptly. This is most noticable if you ease up right after strumming, cutting the note off short. The other strings will still be ringing, but your melody will have a stacatto sound, with each note cut off.

6. Muffling (or muting). You can get some delightful plunky sounds by resting the side of your hand on the strings just in front of the bridge ( the sound hole side). This is best done with your hand stationary, resting on the strings just in front of the bridge as you pick individual strings or do small strums, or you can also try it " on the fly" as you are strumming more vigorously. A variation on this trick is to place a small piece of masking (or other non-residue) tape on the strings, right in front of the bridge, or even overlapping the bridge. Every note you play will have a muted, "pizzicatto" sound. Experiment!

 

Strumstick®: Special Effects

Audio:

Strumstick Accenting
Strumstick Sliding, Hammering On And Pulling Off