Countless guitar players—from late greats like Stevie Ray Vaughan to living legends like Paul Gilbert—have used the technique of "digging" into the strings to convey attitude.
As with all techniques, the key is not just physically learning how to do it, but knowing when to use it and when to avoid it. Some guitarists tend to overuse this attacking sound as a result of the energy with which they play, which can take away from the dynamic impact that digging in can create.
That said, there are no rules in the practice room, so feel free to jab and thrust your pick into the strings at will as you work on this skill. The basics of digging in to your guitar strings are simple: Use a crunchy tone on your bridge pickup, use your left and right hands to mute the strings you don’t want to ring out and—most importantly—have a mean attitude.
The muting can be achieved by resting the palm of your picking hand lightly across the strings, with your left fingers keeping the majority of string noise at bay. Start slowly by raking your pick over one muted string to hit the fretted note on the string directly below it, and add more strings as you get comfortable with the movement.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.