Guitar Effects Without Amp – Organic Tricks To Enrich Your Acoustic Playing

Do you play an acoustic guitar or a nylon string chord and want to enrich your piece without the need for external effects or amplification? Use the built-in features of your guitar to create sound effects that will make some of those who are listening to you to raise their eyebrows.

This is only an Introduction to the guitar organic effect techniques and doesn’t pretend to be an in-depth post in any of the techniques.

I’ve added videos that illustrate almost all the effects I mention here from the relevant time point of the video.

Right Hand – The Pizzicato types organic guitar effects:

This guitar effect has one movement that has two phases:

1. The attack of the string with the thumb.
2. Immediately after the attack, dump the string with the wrist close to the bridge by quick motion and fast bending of the wrist so that it mutes the string where the string meets the saddle of the bridge.

You can pluck with the thumb using the flash and control the dynamics by changing the tension you apply on the string.
If you want to get a strong, clear and distinctive sound, pluck with the nail.

In this case, you have to start the motion higher on the fingerboard, thus to reach the string with the nail. Rather than nail so that the palm will be lower and closer to the string.

The longer the time between attack and dampening the longer the sound will last. It is a musical matter if you decide on a “wet” or “dry” sound.

The p only pizzicato

You can play pizzicato using only the thumb(p) without involving the entire palm.
How you do it?
The moment you pluck the string, dump the string immediately with the upper side of the thumb. This way you get a detached note, staccato.


The sordino guitar effect

Unlike the pizzicato guitar organic effect, the Sordino dump the string before you attack the string by placing the lower right part of the hand on the bridge or close to it.

In the two types of dampening, the pizzicato and the sordino as you dump close to the bridge,
the timbre you get will be more distinct and clear.
The closer you play towards the soundhole, the more thick and dark the sound will be.

Percussive sound organic guitar effects

This is also known as Tambora and you can do this with the pi, or m finger ( thumb, index or middle fingers) by striking on the bridge or strings.
We can divide it into three types:

Striking over the strings

In this case, also called slapping technique the sound will be more crunchy than the other types because you’ll hear more of the slamming on the fingerboard rather the sound pitch and also in this part of the string the tension is the lowest so it responds with a great vibration to the hand strike.


Striking near the bridge

Executing this effect in near the saddle of the guitar will project the sound more strongly than the percussive strike sound itself. Meaning that you get more sound than percussion. You’ll notice as well that you need to minimize your contact with the string and must immediately to raise the hand so that the string will project and not be dumped by the hand itself.

Striking over the body of the bridge

Applying it on this point will result in more sharper attack sound together with more low frequencies you get from the center of the guitar body.


Exotic strumming effects effect

Rasgueado Flamenco

Rasgueado is a Spanish Flamenco style strumming you that mostly flamenco and also classical guitarists utilize.
They strum their hand fingers in and out ( with the back of the fingernails) very fast using in its full all of the five fingers.


Rasgueado Argentino

Argentine folk guitarists use this technique based on the same principle of playing the fingers up and down,
with the inside and outside of the fingernails. You can hear it in Argentinian folk genres like chamame, chacarera and more.


You can probably find others variations of the rasgeado technique in others countries and genres but I pick those two for its extensive uses inside those cultures. I believe that rasgeados are a wide and interesting subject worthy of an article of its own.

 Left hand- guitar organic effects

those are guitar organic effects utilizing the based on the left-hand technique.

Tablet guitar effect

This effect produces a sound that seems like the role of a military snare drum on a nylon strings guitars. I tried to execute it on the acoustic guitar as well But that doesn’t sound very convincing. you can play it on all six strings and sounds with the best “snare quality” on the bass strings around fret 7th-10th.

How you do it?

Pick two adjacents strings, lift the upper string with your right-hand finger and cross the string above the string below it helping yourself to stabilize the lower string with the middle finger of your left hand.


Harmonic guitar organic effects

With this technique, you produce kind of bell sounds by dumping slightly the stings with the fingertips.
you can play it on both acoustic and electric guitars.this way you generate a note one octave higher than if you would be played it normally with your right hand.


Natural harmonics

Place your finger precisely and very gently over the 5th, 7th 12th or 19th frets ( there are more but those sounds the best especially if you are a beginner) on one of the six strings without pressing it down and then strike the string.

Artificial (pinch) harmonics

We call this type “artificial” because we create this effect physically with the right-hand fingers and can produce it on almost every note on the guitar and not just the frets I mentioned above.
Place the index finger of your right over the 5th, 7th 12th or 19th frets. Keep both fingers in place, pluck the string with your right-hand thumb.


First, I hope that now you know your acoustic or classical guitar much better. Second, treat all of the effects listed above as “doors” for each type because each technique deserves a comprehensive article of its own.
If you are familiar with any other guitar organic effects please feel free to write at the comment below.