3 Keys to Playing Ambient Guitar

It's more than just a delay pedal.

I’m not quite sure when ambient guitar became a thing, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a modern worship song that doesn’t have at least one guitarist playing something that sounds like nothing.

Truth is, ambient guitar work is a ton of fun and when done well, can take sparse instrumentation and turn it into a lush soundscape. Here are three key concepts for playing ambient guitar.

Frequency Filler

The first is finding a frequency range to play in. Everyone in a good band does this and ambient guitarists are no different.  They usually hang well above the lead instrument and only involve two or three strings. If you take up too much frequency range your band will sound like mud. Listen for the empty space and fill it with some sparkle.


Ambient parts create texture by providing variation from the rest of the band. If the piano and drums are busy, long legato volume swells can fill the gaps without clashing. Playing a gentle piano ballad? Try some washed out tremolo picking to create a sense of movement. Just be sure to keep your tonal changes at a minimum. You don’t need to run all over the neck, just pick a few notes and stick with them.



Tempo: Down

Song Key: G

It Is Well With My Soul

Artist: Hillsong Chapel

Tasteful update of an old hymn. Lead really works the tremelo picking and acoustic keeps it simple. Includes bonus content.


Tempo: Down

Song Key: C

Come Alive (Dry Bones)

Artist: Lauren Daigle

Nice and easy ambient guitar and a clear acoustic part.

A good groove at the beginning and pretty straight forward.


Tempo: Medium

Song Key: A

Great Are You Lord

Artist: All Sons And Daughters


Tempo: Down

Song Key: F

I Surrender

Artist: Hillsong Worship


You’re trying to create a feeling so play with feeling! Swell when the song swells. Drop when it drops. It’s little game of follow the leader so go wherever the song takes you.

If you follow these principles and stay in key you can’t go wrong. I’ve attached some song lessons that emphasize ambient guitar parts. 

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

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How do you

Personally play a b chord?

I generally

play a bar on the 2nd or 7th fret but I vary a lot with other voicings.

i need some help:)

so I wrote this progression but not sure if im playing the right chords.

so its a B bar chord and im just sliding around with that shape.

so it goes.... B, A, E.

what frets would i play those on?

thanks God bless

Are you

keeping your root note on the E or A string?

I'm keeping it on the

E string.

but i may do A string somtimes.


Y'all are amazing!

Ambient Guitar

Being Ambient also works great in sermons by saying "Amen". Some Black churches use this technique well with the organ. Adding layers and fills are great tools for adding flavor to worship and sermons as well!