One Reason Why You Might Sound “Amateur”

A common mistake beginners make is to play most of their notes short, or staccato.

The cause is usually habits that develop in both fretting hand technique, and sometimes even the picking hand technique. Staccato phrasing should be a deliberate technique that is created by using string muting techniques in both hands. Unintended staccato playing is caused by unintentional use of muting techniques.

For the fretting hand causes (if you’re right handed):

  • The fingers leave the notes too early in anticipation for the next note
  • When fretting consecutive notes on a single string, the fingers are not left on the notes

For the picking hand causes:

  • The pick rests on the string in anticipation of picking, making it impossible for any note prior to be sustained on that string
  • Any part of the picking hand making contact with the strings which end up muting them

It is important to listen to the music you are learning, with attentive ears, and pay attention to long held notes and the fluidity of certain musical phrases. When you hear a phrase being played with awkward staccato phrasing, it’s like hearing someone speak with a pause be-tween ev-er-y syl-la-ble.

The opposite of playing staccato is called legato, which means to play fluidly. To correct unintentional staccato playing, you can practice legato playing. On the guitar, this often translates into the usage of hammer-on and pull-off technique.

Once you learn to control staccato and legato phrasing, your playing will take one giant leap towards sounding more like the pros!


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