Skip to content →

Amazing Grace Notes: What They Are and How to Play Them

Last updated on July 28, 2019

If your playing seems a bit uninspired as of late, try sprinkling some grace notes into the mix. Grace notes are sonic embellishments that add a bit of sparkle to a melody. A few well-placed grace notes can be the difference between a humdrum tune and one that’s truly remarkable. They’re pretty easy to play too. Grace notes are written as a smaller, passing notes played just before the main note. They are often combined with legato techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides to make the change from grace to main note quicker. A grace note increases the emotional impact of the main note without detracting from its dominance in the melody.
 
The following 12 tips will teach you a little something about grace notes so that you can start incorporating them into your playing today:

1. Principal and auxiliary notes. In the context of grace notes, a principal (main or regular) note is your melody note. An auxiliary note, like a grace note, is a note that supports or enhances another note when added to it. Grace notes are ornaments that decorate or adorn principal notes.
 
2. Musical notation. Grace notes are written as small notes with a dash through the stem in standard notation and with small numbers in tab. They are placed before a principal note and are often tied to them with a small slur, which suggests a smooth, fluid transition between the auxiliary and the principal note. A grace note is printed smaller to indicate that it is melodically and harmonically nonessential. It also makes it easier to notice the ornament as it clearly stands out as different than the normal-sized note and should therefore be played differently.
 
3. Rhythmic value. Grace notes don’t have a rhythmic value. It’s the following note, the principal, that has the full rhythmic count of whatever note it happens to be. For example, if the grace note is the open fifth string A and the principal note is the fifth string, second fret B, you’d hit the open A string as you begin to count “one,” but before you finish saying “one,” you would want to be on that B note. Grace notes should be played light and fast. They don’t have a beat of their own but are part of a beat.
 
4. How to play grace notes. The word “grace” suggests that notes should be performed in an elegant and fluid fashion. They are also played fast, like in-the-space-of-a-gnat’s-eyelash fast. Grace notes come in two varieties—ascending and descending—and can be played in three different ways: As a quick hammer-on in an ascending movement with the grace note written from below the principal; as a quick pull-off in a descending movement with the grace note written from above the principal; or as a quick slide from grace to principal note with the grace note written from either above or below.
 
5. Execute an ascending grace note. Beginning with a fifth string, second fret B grace note fretted with the middle (second) finger, and using a fifth string, third fret C fretted with the ring (third) finger as your principal note, play the B note and very quickly hammer on the C note. The notes are played smoothly, one followed immediately by the other within the applicable beat.
 
6. Execute a descending grace note. Beginning with a fifth string, third fret C grace note fretted with the ring finger and using a fifth string, second fret B fretted with the middle finger as your principal note, play the C note and very quickly pull-off to the B note. Again, this transition should be fluid with one note followed immediately by the other within the applicable beat.
 
7. Now hear this! The grace note does not have to ring as a clear note. Its job is to imply ascending or descending motion and set up the following note that does ring clearly.
 
8. Goof note. It might help to think of grace notes as goofed-up notes—a note that you hit by mistake and then immediately replace with a second, correct note almost instantaneously. You know, before anyone notices.
 
9. Don’t fear the grace note. Fear is the one thing you want to avoid when playing grace notes. Fear causes tension, and tension causes lunging, and lunging will serve only to make the ornament clunky. Tension will also tire you out. Instead, plan ahead and know the grace note is coming in time to land it.
 
10. Jumpers. Grace notes can jump one, two, even three frets, depending on what direction the tune is coming from and where it’s going.
 
11. Troubleshooting grace notes. If you have trouble playing a particular grace note, simply leave it off. Grace notes don’t affect the melody.
 
12. Everything in moderation. Although it is certainly possible to play grace notes before every note in a melody, don’t. It would soon become irritating and the grace notes would lose their charm. Limit the use of grace notes to a few effective places.

About the Author
Kathy Dickson writes for the online guitar lesson website GuitarTricks.com.

READ NEXT  How to Find Your Unique Voice on the Guitar

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Xrp
  • Bitcoin cash
  • Litecoin
  • Tether
  • Cardano
  • Dash
  • Monero
  • Stellar
  • Neo
  • Nano
Scan to Donate Bitcoin to 3QMnkUCnDpurBQhgawmnnJWXhmjBrRdWCH

Support us by donating some Bitcoin to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Bitcoin

Scan to Donate Ethereum to 0xce9ddc43f3fd81074652991d161be37cc641da66

Support us by donating some Ethereum to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Ethereum

Scan to Donate Xrp to rLSn6Z3T8uCxbcd1oxwfGQN1Fdn5CyGujK

Support us by donating some Xrp to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Xrp

Tag/Note:- 72456821
Scan to Donate Bitcoin cash to 35DvF8RMKbKnufPd4yKdAAKNt3quCvn4GK

Support us by donating some Bitcoin cash to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Bitcoin cash

Scan to Donate Litecoin to MMxEJDz5MWiw2WGftJLPApTSjSoXnJtXtM

Support us by donating some Litecoin to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Litecoin

Scan to Donate Tether to 0x23c7A7985a9Bc3d0320839CA75b7ec7ABA1C66d9

Support us by donating some Tether to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Tether

Scan to Donate Cardano to Ae2tdPwUPEZMtA193syAR9pCFPdFtv9HKQNfdCLcQphVZEV2uhFhTnLMGtj

Support us by donating some Cardano to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Cardano

Scan to Donate Dash to XvuQfhUWV2WXAvtda5Ya2645Tu2ZCzDEU2

Support us by donating some Dash to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Dash

Scan to Donate Monero to 47s7YYjJJb9GVL6USvT4M59ovwRvZbwruMdDJGhuG5m23V9vsm9SCy59obfkbEd5S9cWiV2WJ3Zt2T8dKbCoFQmdUX7byy5

Support us by donating some Monero to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Monero

Scan to Donate Stellar to GBRX6VYQHH3KHHTLNO2JMVP6UWJURIA6NDFP4HZ73UG6MTVWSLOYJANP

Support us by donating some Stellar to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Stellar

Scan to Donate Neo to AX6xhcjej6nkc4HBNJ2Aiu473zm5q1XEEz

Support us by donating some Neo to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Neo

Scan to Donate Nano to nano_391jywfffefzwhtkmmedshparnejrnpfq9gjbyuafdfqsoxdkedb1hah4x8w

Support us by donating some Nano to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Nano

Published in Creativity Inspiration Picking Techniques Sight Reading

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *