Octave Technique

(Part of the exercises in Jack Grassel's book "Guitar Seeds")

The playing of two identical pitches an octave apart is an extra tone color the guitarist can use to add variety to his sound. Since octaves are clumsy to move around, they work best on long notes and slow passages.

Four techniques should be mastered for smooth sounding octaves:

  1. String crossing
  2. Chromatic notes on the same string
  3. The gliss (striking an octave, then sliding)
  4. Use the thumb as a pivot on the back of the neck to measure distances between notes.

The string between the two fingers is muted by the index finger. The pick or thumb strikes all three strings. Reduce arm motion. Keep all movement in the wrist. Another way to produce the sound would be to strike the bottom note with the pick making a down stroke while plucking the top note with the fourth finger. This eliminates the muted string.

Practice through an amp with the treble up higher than normal. This brings out unnecessary string noise so you can try to eliminate it. Make your own studies as a continuation of these. Practice jumping over strings. Play an octave with the melody on the first string, jump over the second and third strings to play the octave with the melody on the fourth string.