What Is A Ghost Note On Guitar?

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I laughed the first time I heard about the word “Ghost Note” during my guitar lesson. It sounded like something funny. I was thinking, what does a ghost note has to do with a guitar. Initially, I had the perception it is an invincible note one has to create. However, if you also had a similar experience, I am here to explain what is a ghost note on guitar.

A ghost note is a muted note (s) that someone plays without any intention of sounding the note pitch. I like to call it a groove thing. It is a common technique you will find in most country music, even though it isn’t limited to that genre.

According to Wikipedia, “In music, a ghost note is a musical sound with a rhythmical value, but no audible pitch when performed.”

I should inform you that playing ghost notes requires a feel for the song’s rhythm and what you intend to project when playing. The feel during this process must make a good sound. To help you, I will cover the basic techniques of ghost notes on a guitar.

How to play Ghost notes on a guitar

There is no one way to play a ghost note on a guitar. I will unveil the best technique I use when playing a ghost note with my guitar. Firstly, I will start with the single note technique. To do this, I usually mute the strings using the fretting handing between specific notes. I then lift the pressure on my hand without removing my fretting finger from the string.

The other method I use to play ghost notes on my guitar is to use the same technique while strumming the chords. I flatten my fingers and reduce the frets pressure during the strumming as I lightly touch all the strings.

As I keep strumming, I get a funky muted percussive sounds that produce ghost notes. Using the in-between chord, I perceive a nice percussive sound that beautifies the piece.

Here is a secret technique I sometimes use besides the two methods I mentioned. I call it the slap technique. What I do is slap the strings using my picking hand to generate a percussive sound.

In most cases, my thumb does the job as I slap the lower strings and create the percussive ghost notes. This is how I create my ghost note on guitar without any stress.

Note: How beginners can start playing notes.

I use several methods to play ghost notes. You can start with a single note before progressing slowly to scales and chords for beginners. For beginners, you can select any notes and play them twice while playing again twice with a slow tempo for a ghost note. As time goes on, you can use different notes to improve on your quest.

Is ghost note only available on guitar?

I know ghost notes are not only available on guitar from my knowledge of playing guitar. Remember, a ghost note is a percussive note that doesn’t have a clear pitch. They are usually softly played without an accent. Notwithstanding, you will find the technique used in several instruments. You can also find ghost notes in vocal music.

Are there any famous sounds that use a ghost note?

I believe you can find several sounds with a ghost note in their chord progressions, solos, or riffs. I am not saying you can easily recognize them, but you can if you put a careful ear when listening to the song. Notably, you can recognize it when listening to the famous song “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Another famous guitarists, Mark Knopfler, frequently use ghost notes when playing. You can hear several ghost notes embellishing the guitar partitions in songs such as “Money for Nothing” and “Sultans of Swing.”


Understanding what is a ghost note on guitar will help when you decide to create your ghost notes. Ghost notes are notes created without any pitch but have a rhythmic feature. In this article, I have expounded on three different techniques you can use to create a ghost note. If you have any issues following the techniques, I do like to hear from you.

Jim Henneberry

Jim Henneberry

I love playing my guitar, and my kids got hooked along with me.
This is a family thing now - why don't you join the family fun? :)