How to Create Beautiful Melodies on One String

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Creating their own music might seem impossible for many amateur guitarists and rightly so. It requires a ton of knowledge of music theory and experience through practice to create guitar melody. But that shouldn’t be a deterrent from making any attempts whatsoever. 

Making an attempt with a higher rate of success might just be a motivating and challenging experience to learn more. And it’s possible to make your own melody on just one string. Here’s what you need to know to get started. 

Basic music theory

You don’t need to know a theory to make your own music. After all, music that sounds good to your ears is what a melody is. And when you back that up with some theory, you’d be making awesome tracks in no time. 

The first thing you want to learn about is the chord progression. Look at a few examples, listen to a handful of songs from your favorite genre and then run through the different chord families. Your main focus here won’t be to use many chords but just stick to two or three. 

These chords would be used to lay a background loop on which you’d build your single-string guitar solo. Try listening to as many songs as you can and then sit down to analyze the different tones and techniques they use. In the end, you’ll have sufficient knowledge to get started.

Experiment with notes

Making music requires a lot of experimentation and it’s also needed when you’re playing only on one string. The positive here is that you only focus on one string, but it comes with the restriction to only that one string. So, you need to explore notes from the first to the last fret to make a melody that you find best. 

While experimenting, you can use a higher string to test out notes and then replicate that on your primary string. For example, the note by pressing down on the first fret of the G string will be the same as the note on the 5th fret of the D string. So if you want to explore notes without reaching far down, you should definitely try this. 

Follow a set tempo

Melodies require a tempo or beat to follow. For this, you will need a metronome. Using the metronome, you can decide whether you want 4, 8 or 16 beats and also decide on a tempo. 

Start experimenting with different beats and tempos. If you have something in mind, try it out before you commit to it. If it sounds good to you, go ahead with that tempo. If not, you can always try a different tempo or beat.

If you want more of a challenge, you can try breaking out of a set tempo or beat. This might be a double-edged sword as getting it right would make your melody dynamic and evolving but getting it wrong would just confuse your audience. 

Use some guitar tricks and techniques

Making a beautiful melody is one thing, but making it beautiful and dynamic is another. Adding dynamic elements will reduce the chances of a melody that grows monotonous over time. There are a variety of tricks and techniques you can use to make your melody even better. 

The first technique to learn is alternate picking. Alternate picking is the method of picking in a downstroke-upstroke-downstroke method instead of a continuous downstroke technique. Learning alternate picking will allow you to make faster and complex melodies. Plus, it is applicable in both single string picking and multiple string picking.

 Here are a few other techniques to explore and use in your melodies:

  • Sliding
  • String bending
  • Hammering
  • Pinch harmonics

Try incorporating these tricks and techniques in different parts of your melody to make it engaging and constantly evolving for the audience. 

Listen to a lot of example music

To be able to make your own music, you need inspiration which you’ll get by listening to songs that have single-string melodies. You can make a few searches online, on platforms like YouTube or Google Search and analyze what exactly those artists have done. 

To get you started, here are some examples:

  • Sunshine of your love – Cream
  • Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
  • Mamma Mia – ABBA
  • Breezeblocks – ALT J
  • Running down a dream – Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers

A few of these songs have multiple string melodies but you’ll easily find single string melody tabs online. Look through those melodies, study the musical notes, understand the beats and you’ll find a ton of inspiration to write your own single string melody.

Now that you’ve gone through all these pointers, you must be able to realize how feasible single-string melodies really are. All it takes is an experimental mind and you’ll be able to create a beautiful melody in no time at all.