Guitarists of all types deal with legatos and staccatos. These are otherwise known as articulations. Legatos are basically just notes that are played together in a smooth manner.
However, we did not write this article to talk about those types of notes.
Instead, we want to share with you the learning hacks that are required to master this skill.
Unlike a legato, a staccato has silent intervals between each note. Each note is short and has an outburst to it.
At first, you may assume that staccatos may sound amateurish for a guitarist to want to dedicate his/her time to mastering this skill.
This is only a deception. Staccatos are almost a requirement as, without them, no musician can fluctuate the degree to which you play your notes.
The last thing you would want is to have a monotonic session. You could be in danger of just getting stuck in a learning rut.
Moreover, a staccato is an opportunity for you to experiment and go beyond your levels of comfort.
Ever since the last century, staccatos have been noted in sheet music as a note with a dot placed above or underneath it.
Over the decades, more nuances came to be known when performing a staccato. Other notations for this guitar articulation are a curved line or wedge.
The first example is for staccatos that are shorter in duration, while the latter example is for ones that are more pronounced in having silent intervals.
Before the 1800s, pikes, dashes, dots, and various combinations of those symbols were thought of as the same thing.
Many musicians did not attempt to come up with rules in order to separate subtle distinctions from a staccato (as was the case in the century afterward).
Some theorists tried, but they were often ignored.
How Does One Play A Short Staccato?
Arguably, many people claim that it can be performed at half its originally written note while retaining an equal resting interval.
Overall, it is best not to be “splitting hairs” like that. There is going to be variation no matter what piece you play.
Additionally, it depends upon you, the musician. Do not fret over this, as you will end up overstressing and not letting the notes ring out naturally when the time comes.
A good rule of thumb when playing a song with staccatos in the sheet music is to “go with the flow.”
What is Staccatissimo?
Otherwise, an impressive Italian word, this is a common staccato musical notation that indicates to a musician that a note needs to be played in very separate and distinct staccato.
Commonly, these notations use wedges that can write above or below the notes.
If you want to go a more unconventional route, you could also write “staccatissimo” over the staff.
How is a Staccato Written When It Comes to a Multi-voice Piece?
When there is more than one part of a piece you are reading, it can be tough to identify which notes are staccatos vs which ones are not.
A good piece of advice is to consider how the notes are assembled.
If they share a stem and come in together in one voice, then you can safely assume that the staccato mark can be considered all associated notes.
What if the Notes are Stemmed with Two Voices or Components?
If each pair of notes is stemmed from varying directions, then it is best to mark only one note of each pair.
Nevertheless, this is all music theory. If there is one takeaway you can have from this article, it is the fact that theory is almost never implemented it real performances or gigs.
You will get distortions and unintentional mutes when playing guitar. Again, this goes back to not being so stringent on the notes.
Playing a Staccato With Your Left Hand.
It can be tricky to get the hang of this technique.
Nevertheless, since most of you are going to end up strumming a guitar with a right hand, it is going to be useful to figure out how to play notes from various frets without having your finger hold the string for too long.
Here are some very useful tips that you need to pay close attention to.
During this notation, you are not going to want to have extraneous strings interrupting your staccato.
Make sure to let go of the pressure your finger is exerting on the guitar.
Simultaneously, you are going to keep your fingertip on the string, almost as if you want to play a harmonic.
You must do this sequentially in a careful manner.
This technique takes a while to master. Do not beat yourself up if you spend hours trying to perfect it, as it is a very detail-oriented technique.
What About The Right Hand?
Even though it is not as common, it happens to be the technique that produces the crispest sounds as it allows the left hand to stay on the strings the entire staccato.
Thus, you get more accuracy when you do not take your left hand off the strings.
Again, Why Should We Consider Practicing a Technique That Isn’t Fine Tuned for Perfection and Can Take a While To Master?
As a guitarist, you are bound to encounter staccatos at some point in your life.
Unless you are someone who just dabbles in playing music, you are going to want to veer off playing songs that aren’t just a few power chords.
Also, keep in mind that some guitars are able to allow sound to resonate sharply when staccatos are played vs others won’t be able to carry out the sound and may end up just distorting the sound your guitar produces when hooked up to an amp.
Here is a list of electric guitars from the Electric Guitar Masters.
Last But Not Least, Practice.
This is a technique many advanced guitarists use to experiment. It isn’t something a novice can pick up with ease. However, it is something that has many layers of difficulty.
One can play a staccato that is simpler to execute with no problem.
On the other hand, there are difficult ones where only guitarists with “god-given” talent or decades of experience under their belt can execute in a smooth manner.
But either way, whether you are on your own or in a band playing rhythm or lead guitar, learning staccato is a technique that is rewarding to have.