How to Use Dynamics to Improve Your Guitar Playing
A guide to a technique that will help your left and right hands work better together.
By Nick Stoubis
Dynamics refers to changes in volume while playing – from quiet to loud or loud to quiet. Creating dynamics can take some time to master because it requires both hands working together. Here are some tips for adding dynamics into your playing.
The Strum Hand
Your control of the volume will come from the strum hand. The harder you play, the louder the volume. The softer you play, the softer the volume. Even though you have volume controls on electric guitars and amps, controlling the volume ultimately rests with the strum hand – and how hard you pick or strum.
The Fret Hand
Let’s be clear. Pressing harder or softer with the left hand will NOT change the volume. All you’ll get is burning fingertips. For new players, the best thing to do is practice consistent pressure when fretting notes. Keeping the fret hand out of the equation is the challenge – coordinating this takes some practice.
Exercise for Practicing Dynamics
- Play a chord, squeezing only as hard as necessary with the fret hand.
- Strum the chord with your strum hand as lightly as possible.
- Gradually strum the chord harder and harder.
- Make sure that the left hand maintains the same level of pressure through the changes in volume as you strum harder.
- Pay attention to your fret hand. If you start to squeeze more, focus on relaxing it as you play.
Check in after you’re done. Did you squeeze hard with your fretting hand when playing loudly? Learning to keep a relaxed fretting hand is essential to playing with good technique. But coordinating both hands is the real thing to master when trying to incorporate dynamics into your playing. Try using dynamics in this song on Fender Play. And if you're not a Fender Play member yet, click here for a free trial.