Ichika Nito is a Japanese YouTube guitarist. He is well known for his meme style, highly technical and complex guitar compositions. If you’ve ever wondered how does he do it, this article will provide you information about it. You’ll learn what do you need to know in order to play like him.
Disclaimer: This article doesn’t go into the topic of Ichika Nito’s production. In other words, we won’t talk about his equipment, his amp settings, his tone and his production tools. This article is about how to play guitar like he plays it, what techniques you have to master, and how to approach the learning process.
I hope you’ll find valuable information on what you need to do in order to play guitar like Ichika Nito.
What Type of Style Does Ichika Nito Play?
Ichika Nito is an authentic artist. His style falls in the category of neo soul/instagram guitar. Some call it progressive math rock, but in my opinion, it is closer to neo soul/instagram style. However, it is hard to define it totally, because in the end, his playing is authentic.
What You Need To Know
Here’s what you need to know before you even attempting to play something from Ichika Nito’s repertoire. Basically, you need to have knowledge of music theory + knowledge of various different guitar techniques.
Fancy Chords and Triads
Ichika Nito plays fancy chords. By fancy, I’m thinking of chords that are not ordinary chords, like G major or D minor. Instead, he uses chords characteristic to neo soul/jazz style.
To be more precise, instead of playing like ordinary E minor, he plays E minor 7th or E minor 9th. He always adds another tone from the minor or major scale in addition to three notes that make regular chord (root, third and fifth).
Also, he uses different chord voicings in form of triads. So, you have to know everything about triad chords. You have to know guitar fretboard very well, if not perfectly.
So, back to triads. Triads and their inversions is something you have to learn. Watch this video if you need. If you know about this already, you don’t need to watch.
Now, when you learn regular triad inversions of regular chords, like majors and minors, you then go on to learn how to add another tones to these triads, like 7th, 9th, 11th notes on top of it.
Aside from diatonic scales everyone uses, you have to have knowledge of different modes. Like Dorian or Lydian modes. Those are very often used in Ichika Nito’s playing. Also, they are used generally in neo soul guitar style of playing.
Basically, you need to LEARN some of that music theory stuff. Of course, you can watch one of his videos and repeat everything he does, starting slow and then speeding up once you’re comfortable with the tempo.
However, I think it is necessary to know what he’s doing. Not knowing what he’s playing, and why is he playing it is a serious limit to the development of your guitar playing and expression. Especially in this context.
You just have to learn some of the music theory. Almost nobody knows everything there is in music theory, but some things need to be known. Here, take a look at this video explaining musical modes. In the case you’re not familiar with it yet.
Fingerstyle & Hybrid Picking
Ichika Nito incorporates fingerstyle and hybrid picking. Often he plays only with his fingers. That’s fingerstyle. You have to be good at fingerstyle in order to play anything from his repertoire. There are plenty of fingerstyle tutorials on YouTube. Make sure you master fingerstyle enough before you proceed.
Another thing that’s extremely important to highlight is hybrid picking technique.
Hybrid picking means that often he have a pick in his hand, but at the same time he’s using his fingers. This technique allows you to play a triad chord, for example, but only the two notes from a triad. Let’s say you play a G major triad in D shaped position. That means you play this triad: index finger on 7th fret of G string, ring finger on 8th fret of B string, and middle finger on 7th fret of high E string.
This forms a G major triad in a D shaped way. So, what hybrid picking allows you to do is you can pluck only a G string and high E string. You’re plucking a G string with your pick, while at the same time you’re plucking a high E string with your middle finger.
That sounds cool, because you’re basically playing a harmony. These two-notes harmonies are abundant in Ichika Nito’s playing.
Hybrid picking is complicated at first. But after a while, you’ll become comfortable. I love hybrid picking, and if you want to play like Ichika Nito, that’s something you must master.
To dive in hybrid picking technique, read the article from this page about it.
Hammer On’s And Pull Off’s
Hammer on’s and pull off’s are essential guitar technique, not only in the context of Ichika Nito’s playing, but in the general sense of guitar playing also.
You cannot call yourself even an intermediate guitarist if you don’t know how to perform hammer on’s and pull off’s properly. Crucial aspect of this technique is finger strength.
In order to perform it properly, your fingers have to be strong. To develop strength, there’s a one great exercise called finger gym exercise. In it, you’re basically performing hammer on’s and pull of’s in a manner it develops your fingers’ strength.
Keep in mind this: Don’t overdo it. Practice it not more than 10 minutes a day. Otherwise, you’re going to experience uncomfortable soreness in your fingers’ muscles.
Slapping is a technique used for bass guitar, in most of the cases. However, Ichika Nito often slaps, and he’s doing it on a regular electric guitar.
To do a proper slapping on a string, you have to practice, well…slapping, obviously. But also, you have to coordinate your fretting hand with your playing hand, with which you slap.
Slapping is done by using thumb. It is usually accompanied by snap. Snap is when you’re picking a tone with your fingers. So, you slap a string with your thumb first. You’re slapping a low E string, in most of the cases.
After you slap with a thumb, you quickly need to snap a tone on higher strings, the same tone, but it’s an octave higher. It is a very straightforward guitar technique, but you’ll need to practice it a lot until you develop a fine touch.
Here, watch this video to see how it’s done properly.
Slides and Vibratos
Sliding is also common in Ichika Nito’s playing. Make sure you know how to slide from one fret to another. It’s not a complicated technique to master.
Vibrato is extremely important technique. Without vibrato, guitar playing sounds dull, lifeless and boring. Vibrating on a string can sound very expressive and peculiar.
Make sure you practice vibrato. You can practice sliding and vibrato together. Try to do a slide from one fret to another. At the moment you arrive on the final fret, try to vibrate on the string. That way, you’ll become familiar with both sliding and vibrating together, in combination.
Ichika Nito’s use of tapping technique is distinctive and authentic. Tapping is not easy to master. Tapping can easily sound sloppy, and also you must watch for unwanted noise that usually accompanies poor tapping performance. You can read more about tapping issues common for guitar learners in this article.
He often taps in harmonies, meaning he often taps two notes, two different strings. Usually, when he does that, he’s playing harmonies from a triad. Something very similar to hybrid picking, when you pick one note with pick and the other with finger. Except, in this case it’s done with taps.
He also uses tapping in combination with sliding and flick off’s. So, he taps a fret with his, for example, middle finger. Then he slides up or down a few frets along the fretboard. Then he usually flick off the string. Here, you can see the practice routine of that kind of tapping, performed by Ichika Nito himself.
Knowing all these things described above is a precondition you have to master before you start to play something from Ichika Nito’s repertoire. However, it is crucial for you to establish a general plan of your learning progress. Here are the few tips to help you master Ichika Nito’s playing style in a quickest way possible.
Comply to those general tips, and you’ll notice improvement soon.
Watch Other Neo Soul Guitarists
Don’t watch Ichika Nito only. There are other neo soul guitarists, that play similar style guitar. Also, they may be playing something you’ll learn easier.
Don’t just listen to them, watch closely what they’re doing. Focus on subtle movements of their fretting hand, and also playing hand.
Lower the speed of these YouTube videos, so you can easily detect those subtle movements. Find videos with tabs, so you can easily figure out what’s being played at the moment.
Then try to repeat what’s being played. Repeat it in slower tempo. Play it slow enough, then proceed to increase tempo once you’re comfortable with it. Also, you don’t need to learn the whole piece. Instead, focus on some parts you find easily manageable to play.
Probably the most distinct characteristic of Ichika Nito’s playing is his dexterity. Dexterity, precision, accuracy – these are the things you must focus on.
In my opinion, sloppiness is one of the greatest enemy of every guitarist. It is easy to learn to repeat something on your guitar. However, to sound good, precise and not sloppy – that’s a whole new world. Dexterity and accuracy are signs of a confident playing.
Ichika Nito’s is known for his ambitiousness and confidence. You can “hear” the confidence coming from his expression. You can feel, see and hear that he’s relaxed and confident.
So, how to avoid sloppiness? First of all, exercise dexterity. Establish a practice routine that will bring focus on your dexterity skill. What’s the best exercise for improving dexterity?
In my opinion, it’s the spider exercise. Spider exercise will minimize unnecessary movements from of your fretting hand. It will make your fingers independent of each other. Fingers independence is important, because without it you cannot progress and play something highly technical and complex.
Here’s a good video showing what you need to do. Make sure you do it regularly. You don’t have to do it more than 15 minutes a day; but you need to do it EVERY day, if possible.
Another aspect of dexterity development is the skill of smooth transition from one chord position to the other. You want to make sure you can smoothly change your hand position from one particular chord to another.
That can get tricky in some situations, because some transitions demand high skill of finger dexterity. To be able to do that confidently, you need to make your fingers stronger so that they can quickly reposition. Also, you want your fingers to stretch easily.
Here’s the video showing exercises that help.
Establish Practice Routine
Knowing what to practice and where to focus is one thing. Establishing practicing routine is another aspect of successful progress.
Pick a time in a day when you plan to practice. Practice every day, if possible. Remember, it is better to practice every day for 30 minutes than to practice twice a week for 3 hours.
You want to make your brain habituated by practicing every day. That way you’ll establish and develop neural patterns in your brain which will make your learning process much quicker. That’s why it is important to learn something periodically, every day.
By doing that, your brain will start to recognizing patterns much quicker, and it’ll start to connect parts into a mosaic. That’s how the process of learning something new functions.
Play Around, Don’t Just Practice
It’s important to stress out this aspect of guitar progress. Don’t just bother to exercise. Play around. Remember, you’re playing guitar to relax yourself. Guitar playing should be fun and meaningful. You’re not a robot that only learns something new.
Playing without some certain goal you want to achieve is very important. That way you’ll learning also. That way you’ll learn a lot, because you’re participating in a process of building your skills and expression, on your own. Every great guitar player is great not because he knows how to perform technical stuff on a guitar.
Great guitar players are great because they are authentic. And there’s no exercise in which you develop your authenticity other than playing on your own; keep yourself amused just by playing without some purpose and goal you’d want to achieve. That’s how you develop your authentic touch and expression.
It is extremely important for you to rest. A big mistake a lot of enthusiastic guitar players make is they don’t know when it’s time to rest. So, what happens is that when you play for too long, your brain and your body become kind of “closed” for importing a new information.
You need to give your body, and your brain a rest. That way, you’ll give your body time to process a new information. The same logic applies when you think of sleeping. Sleeping and dreaming are important things, because when you sleep, your brain is processing and filtering information it gathered that day.
The same goes for learning guitar. New guitar techniques, new songs or melodies you try to master on your guitar – these are new things. Your body therefore must rest.
Even a day or two of rest is sometimes needed. Yes, it is important to practice every day. But sometimes, let’s say once in every 10 days, feel free to take a rest day, or two. Take a rest when you feel like it.
As a guitar player, I can tell you from my experience that sometimes there are days where my playing is just tight and nervous. On these days, I just can’t play my guitar confidently and in a relaxed fashion. It’s like my guitar won’t listen to me.
That’s when I know – it’s time for a rest.
Yvette Young Polyphonic Course
Ichika Nito’s style consists of various fingerstyle and tapping techniques. It is one thing to learn a technique, but that is different from learning how to incorporate it into your playing.
Yvette Young is a modern fingerstyle guitarist, and she has a helpful course. It has 25 lessons, all filmed in 4K with various camera angles.
In the course, you’ll learn how to blend advanced fingerstyle techniques with advanced tapping techniques, also you’ll learn how to play and create melodies in odd time measures.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be a master immediately after you go through the course. Every mastery demands practice and hard work. However, this course will provide you a valuable insight into these advanced, modern fingerstyle and tapping techniques.
I hope this article gave you a valuable information about how to play like Ichika Nito. Ichika Nito is an authentic, virtuoso player. Keep in mind that it is very hard to get to that level of playing.
But also, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a copycat. Adding your own flavor to your expression is something you should think about. You don’t want to just copy Ichika Nito’s style of playing. If you do that, people will sense you’re not being yourself.
Every great guitarist is great precisely because he’s authentic. Let that thought guide you through your guitar learning journey.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it. Make sure you check out other interesting articles from this site.
Cheers, and rock on!