Julian Michael (a.k.a. JULESTHEWULF) is a guitarist, producer, and solo artist who’s known for his effortless yet soulful musicality.
His resume consists of playing for a wide array of R&B, hip pop, and neo soul artists, including the likes of Musiq Soulchild and Ty Dolla $ign. Many also know him as the lead guitarist for We The Band, the official band for Justin Beiber.
In celebration of the recent release of his sample pack, we sat down with JULESTHEWULF to discuss five key guitar techniques that will enhance both your playing and your productions—watch the full video above for in-depth insights, and read highlights below.
While fingerpicking is one of the most fundamental techniques for guitar playing, JULESTHEWULF emphasizes the timbral impact it can have on a production. “Fingerpicking takes a lot of that sharp attack out of the playing, and produces a more intimate tone,” he tells us. “The first thing to do to get better at fingerpicking is to always have your metronome on—it helps ensure that all of your strokes are even, and that everything sounds on the same level.”
2. Palm muting
“Palm muting is basically what it sounds like—you’re using the flesh of your palm to dampen the strings so that your chords don’t ring out as fully,” Jules explains. “It’s used in genres like rock and punk, but it’s also used in genres like R&B.” In the video, he goes on to showcase how to incorporate palm muting in the context of an arpeggiated riff.
3. Percussive playing
“Percussive playing works best in situations where you want to keep the time but you don’t have a drummer,” Jules says. “I use this style a lot in acoustic moments where it’s just me and the artist.”
Above, Jules combines fingerpicking and palm muting to demonstrate a possible arrangement for percussive playing. “You don’t have to do anything fancy,” he emphasizes. “Just keep it simple and keep time.”
4. Passing chords
Passing chords are a highly effective technique for adding interest to your chord progressions. “When you’re using passing chords, make sure they make sense—you don’t want to just borrow another chord from a random key,” Jules explains. “Rather, you want to make sure that it’s in-key, or related to the key that you’re in.” See the video to hear Jules use passing chords to bring a simple C – Emin – Amin chord progression to life.
Lastly, JULESTHEWULF offers some insights around how to develop your signature sound as a guitarist. “I think the best way to find your sound is to learn from the people who inspire you: other artists, other guitar players, or other producers,” Jules tells us. “No matter the field that you’re in, as you try to copy what they’re doing, you’re going to fail at it—but you’re going to fail forward, and you’re going to find your own sound in the mix.”
“A common myth is that you need to have super expensive gear to sound your best. It’s absolutely not true—some of the greatest players who I’ve ever heard have used some of the least expensive gear. It’s all about their dedication and the time they’ve put in towards their craft.”
5 key guitar techniques: Conclusion
“Thanks for tapping in with me,” Jules concludes. “I hope these tips that I gave you help you feel inspired and help you develop your sound.”
Do you have any other key guitar techniques of your own that you’d like to share? What sorts of topics would you like to see us cover next? Let us know in the comments section of the video, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more artist-led tips and tutorials.
Incorporate JULESTHEWULF’s smooth guitar performances into your own productions:
June 25, 2023