Staccato: What Is It And How To Use It In Your Guitar Playing?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 26, 2022

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Staccato is a playing technique used to emphasize certain notes in a guitar solo.

It’s an important skill for any guitarist to have, as it helps bring out the character of a solo and make it more dynamic and expressive.

In this article, we’ll look at what staccato is, how to practice it, and how to apply it to your guitar playing.

What is staccato

Definition of staccato

The term staccato (pronounced “stah-kah-toh”), meaning “detached,” is a common musical notation technique used to indicate short, disconnected notes that are to be played in an articulated and separated fashion. To play staccato notes correctly on the guitar, one must first understand the five basic types of guitar articulations and their specific applications:

Alternate Picking – Alternate picking is a technique that involves alternating between downward and upward strokes with your pick in a smooth, fluid motion. This type of picking helps to create a common staccato effect on the guitar, as each note is sounded sharply and quickly before moving on to the next stroke.

Legato – Legato is played when two or more notes are connected using techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs. This type of articulation allows for all of the notes to be heard distinctly but still adhere to within one single sound.

Muting – Muting is performed by lightly touching strings that aren’t being played with either your palm or pickguard in order to suppress resonance and help minimize sustain. Effectively muting strings while playing can create a poignant, percussive sound when used with other techniques such as alternate picking or legato.

Strumming – Strumming is typical method of playing chords with an upstroke and downstroke pattern which effectively bundles multiple strings together at once in order too create chordal rhythms accompanying melodies or riffs. Strumming can be used effectively generate melodic movements while achieving thick yet clean tones through its volume controlled delivery methods.[1]

Tap/Slap Technique – Tap/slap techniques involve lightly slapping or tapping fretted strings using either your fingers or pick guard. This form of articulation produces great percussive tones from acoustic guitars when used within fingerpicking melodies along with dynamic pickups often found within electric guitars.[2]

Thus, by understanding how articulations interact differently with certain instruments or contexts, you can achieve distinct sounds that give texture and flavor to any piece you write!

Benefits of using staccato technique

The term staccato is derived from an Italian word meaning “detached” or “separated.” It is a playing technique that emphasizes the spacing between individual notes, with each note being of equal length and played with the same attack. This has a variety of benefits for guitarists.

For instance, learning to play with staccato can help you develop more control over the timing and volume of each note while playing, which is essential if you want to become a tight and efficient player. It also creates a more articulated sound overall, as opposed to playing notes in a more legato fashion (connected).

In terms of specific applications, staccato can be used to create powerful riffs and licks on electric guitar as well as give your strumming patterns on acoustic guitar a unique feel. Furthermore, it can be combined with other techniques such as arpeggios and even palm muting for added emphasis on particular notes or chords.

Overall, mastering the art of staccato will not only make your guitar playing sound crisper but also give you better control when it comes to creating phrases or laying out solos.


Staccato is a guitar playing technique where the notes are played separated from each other with a short pause in between each one. You can use staccato in several ways when playing the guitar; ranging from short, quick bursts of notes, to the use of rests, to playing chords with the staccato technique. This article will discuss the different ways to use staccato when playing the guitar.

How to play staccato

Staccato is a short and crisp musical articulation that you should keep in mind when guitar playing. This effect gives your sound a punchy feel and can be used both in lead and rhythm guitar. But what exactly is it?

Simply put, staccato is an accent or emphatic indication used to begin notes or even chords. In order to achieve this effect, you should focus on the attack rather than on the length of the notes. One way to do it is by plucking the strings like you would normally do but quickly releasing your fingers from the fretboard after each stroke. This will give your playing a clear staccato articulation, really popping out of the mix!

Although staccato requires some coordination between hands, it’s quite easy to incorporate it into your playing. The most common types of chords become easier with this technique and it’s amazing how much difference adding staccato makes – suddenly everything sounds more powerful and lively!

It’s worth noting that our advice above applies for single-note passages as well – separate every note with a bit of space between them for maximum effect! With practice comes perfection, so don’t hesitate to start implementing staccato right away!

Tips for playing staccato

Learning how to play staccato correctly requires a combination of technique and practice. There are several elements to consider when using the picking technique staccato in your guitar playing.

-Tone: Maintaining a sharp, clear sound is key to delivering a well-executed staccato performance. To do this, use your plucking hand instead of “brushing” the strings in order to ensure maximum clarity.

-Timing: The timing of each note should be precise — make sure you hit the string at the exact moment when you’re aiming for a staccato attack. Practice with a metronome or play along with track so that you get used to keeping time correctly during your performances.

-Intervals: Working on your dexterity will help sharpen up difficult sections where rapid note changes are required for success. Spend time alternating between single notes and chords; try playing legato passages followed by short bursts of staccato runs. This will also help develop your musical phrasing skills and make more interesting compositions as well as hone in on technical skill levels.

-Dynamics: Accompanied by careful dynamics, learning how to apply accents can add an entirely new level of depth and creative expression to any piece of music or riff at hand. Accents, downstrokes and slurs should be all part of any good guitarist’s arsenal when it comes to introducing different techniques into their soundscape repertoire!


Staccato is a technique that you can use to add a little flavor to your guitar playing. It is a distinct sound created by playing short, detached notes. This technique is often used in classical music as well as rock and roll. In this article, we will explore examples of staccato playing and how you can use it to add spice to your guitar playing.

Examples of staccato in popular guitar songs

In guitar playing, staccato notes are short, clean and precise notes. They can be used to create rhythmic variety and musical interest in your playing. Of course, it helps to have a good understanding of the staccato sound so that you can use it in an effective way in your own compositions or improvisations. Knowing which genres commonly use this technique and listening to some examples can be a great way to learn about how it’s done.

In rock music, staccato single note riffs are very common. Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir is a great example of such a song, with guitar parts employing lots of staccato notes as part of the main melody line. Pink Floyd’s Money is another classic rock song that contains several uses of the technique within its solos.

On the jazz side, John Coltrane’s rendition of My Favorite Things starts with some glissandos performed on an electric guitar while McCoy Tyner plays comping chords on acoustic piano. The melody features several staccato single-note phrases played over these chords in order to provide variation and transition between different sections of the song.

In classical music, Beethoven’s Für Elise features numerous quick and precisely articulated single-note lines throughout much of its composition; Carlos Paredes’ wonderful arrangement for guitar stays faithful to this original interpretation as well! Other notable classical pieces employing frequent use of staccato include Vivaldi’s Winter concerto and Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin which has been transcribed for the electric guitar by heavy metal icons Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine respectively!

The most widely known example from pop music might be Queen’s We Are The Champions – two famous first few chords separated by short staccato stabs create one an iconic opening often heard on sports arenas around the world! Neil Young’s heart-warming Harvest Moon merits mentioning here as well with multiple solo passages utilizing this technique throughout its rich musical narrative!

Examples of staccato in classical guitar pieces

Classical guitar pieces often use staccato to create texture and musical complexity. Staccato playing is a method of playing notes in a short, detached manner, typically leaving an audible break between each note. It can be used to heighten the emotion or tension when strumming chords, or to give a piece an extra layer of detail with single note passages.

Examples of classical guitar pieces that incorporate staccato include the following:
-Passepied by François Couperin
-Greensleeves by Anonymous
-Prelude No. 1 in E Minor by Heitor Villa Lobos
-Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel
-Amazing Grace arranged by Baden Powell
-Tears of Yavanna by Kari Somell
-Stompin’ at the Savoy arranged by Ana Vidovic


Practicing staccato is a great way to improve both your accuracy and speed when playing the guitar. Staccato is a technique used to create a crisp and clear sounding rhythm in your playing. By using staccato when playing, you will be able to emphasize the notes, create distinct accents and separate notes. This practice will help you increase your technical precision, as well as help you develop a better sense of timing. So, let’s look at the different ways you can practice staccato and how to use it in your guitar playing.

Practice drills to master staccato

Staccato is a technique used to give certain notes – or guitar riffs – a sharper sound. It’s often used to add emphasis and create interesting soundscapes. Staccato is not always easily mastered, but there are a few drills and exercises you can do to quickly improve your technique.

The key to mastering staccato is to practice playing ‘off the beat.’ This means playing each note slightly ahead of the normal beat, a bit like a drummer would play fill-ins between sets. To get some experience with this technique, listen to songs with strong offbeat rhythms and try playing along.

Other drills recommended by guitar experts include:

– Pluck two strings at the same time, one on the right side of your pick’s picking arm and one on the left side of it; alternate between upstrokes and downstrokes on each string for an interesting 3-note pattern

– Use chromatic runs or staccato chords in melodies; take advantage of tonal variety from root positions, fifths or thirds

– Practice rhythmic breathing: pick four consecutive notes in staccato mode with your right hand, keeping your left hand tightly squeezed around the fretboard; then “pluck” those four notes using only your breath

– This last drill will help increase accuracy as well as speed; start with triplets (three notes per beat) then move this drill up to 4/8th notes (four notes per beat) which should be fairly easy if you practice diligently

These drills should help folks quickly learn staccato so they can feel comfortable applying it in various musical contexts – from soloing licks over jazz standards all the way through metal shredding solos. With consistent practice over a period of time though – regular intervals over several weeks – any guitarist should be able master pop/rock solos incorporating staccato phrases almost immediately!

Exercises for developing speed and accuracy

Practicing staccato exercises will help you to improve your timing, speed, and accuracy. When you practice staccato playing correctly, the notes will sound even and clear while still resonating with the strings of your guitar. Here are some exercises that can help you get started working on developing strong staccato playing.

1. Begin by setting a metronome to a comfortable tempo and pluck each note in time with the click of the metronome. Once you get a feel for the rhythm, start shortening each note so that it sounds like “tik-tak” for every pick stroke instead of holding out each note for its full duration.

2. Practice alternate picking when doing staccato exercises as this will help develop accuracy at a faster rate than using downstrokes alone. Start with simple major scales on one string as this is an excellent way to get used to changing directions smoothly and accurately between notes in both directions.

3. As you become more confident playing scales in staccato fashion, begin combining patterns from different strings together which will require even more precision from your picking hand to ensure clean transitions without any drift or hesitation between notes.

4. Finally, try incorporating legato techniques into your practice while still maintaining accurate timing between notes so that everything is kept crisp and clean sounding in your phrase structure when transitioning quickly between licks or phrases in slow or fast tempos alike.

With practice and patience, these exercises can be used as proven methods for helping develop speed and accuracy when playing any type of stringed instrument such as guitar, bass guitar or ukulele!


In conclusion, staccato can be a great way to add variety to your guitar playing. It is an essential part of the style of many popular players and genres, and can add a real punch to your performance. With practice, you too can master the art of staccato and make your playing stand out from the crowd.

Summary of the article

In conclusion, understanding the concept of staccato can be a great way for guitarists to enhance their technique and musicality. When used correctly, this technique helps to emphasize certain notes and produces quick, crisp articulations that can really add a unique flavor to your playing. To practice staccato in your guitar playing, try using the picking patterns outlined above. Spend some time working through these patterns and experimenting with different rhythmic applications. With enough patience and dedication, you can build your own version of staccato into your playing!

Benefits of using staccato technique

Using staccato (which translates to “detached”) is one of the most beneficial techniques a guitarist can utilize. Much like how a non-musical analogy of using staccato is speaking in a clipped monotone voice, this style creates clear notes and creates space between them. It gives the guitar player more control over the sound they produce. By spacing and shaping specific notes, there are controllable dynamics being produced by each note generated which can add great detail to a mix or distorted tone.

Staccato playing involves muted stroking of individual strings and quickly releasing them after attack as opposed to traditionally let ring techniques. This is differentiated from legato playing, where each note follows the next uninterrupted before another attack is made. Through combination of both techniques you can create desired sounds that set your guitars parts apart from simple sounding chords or strums.

For those just starting out or wanting to increase their musical skills with guitar playing, focusing on clean staccato technique helps create tighter rhythms as you learn new songs as well as compose your own pieces. Experienced players may find learning staccato techniques help bring fresh perspective and experimentation with other genres or bands on stage or studio levels for recording projects for greater heights in artistry and inspiration.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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