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Talkin' Blues: Using Tremolo Picking to Pump Up a Simple Melody

The following content is related to the February 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Tremolo is the technique of sustaining (actually rearticulating) a note with fast, controlled alternate picking (not to be confused with amp tremolo, which varies the volume). Tremolo originated as a way to maintain notes on acoustic stringed instruments beyond their natural decay time to emulate the long, sustaining notes of the human voice or a wind instrument. While the electric guitar offers other options for sustaining a note, tremolo picking a simple melody gives it a kinetic quality that can transform it into something energetic and memorable and create a virtual “wall of sound.”