Pedal Point Guitar Exercise & Etude

As guitars gained popularity during the Baroque and Classical periods, guitarists developed some techniques that emphasized to the strengths of this new instrument. For instance, guitars, unlike oboes or horns, can play polyphonic music. This meaning many musical parts can be played simultaneously. Guitars share this capability with pianos (and violins, violas, and cellos if the player is skilled enough). And thus, harmonic techniques written for one can sometimes translate easily to the other. One example of this is “pedal point,” which describes one musical “voice” sustaining a note while the other harmonic and melodic voices move freely. When applied to fingerstyle guitar, this technique can result in some beautiful harmonic textures that are worth adding to your toolbox. So, let’s explore a pedal point guitar exercise with JamPlay educator, R.D. King!

Pedal Point Guitar Lesson from R.D. King:

Before you start, it’s important to put your guitar in drop D tuning. This can be done by lowering your low E string one whole step to D.

In this lesson from R.D. King, you’ll learn a pedal tone guitar etude from start to finish. First, you’ll focus on a fingerpicking pattern warmup that will familiarize you with playing pedal notes. Then, R.D. King will guide you through applying this technique to learning an etude he’s entitled, “Spring.” Each lesson is accompanied by practice session at 80 beats per minute. If this feels too fast at first, you can practice slower and gradually work up to a faster tempo. But remember, always use a metronome when you practice; your timing is just as important as playing the right notes!

For more R.D. King guitar lessons and an ever-growing library of Song Lessons, check out! JamPlay has over 450 guitar courses from 120+ instructors, and online guitar lessons tailored to every skill level, music genre, and playing style. Click here to learn more.

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