11/6/08

One-handed tapping - Lead guitar lessons


One-handed tapping (perhaps misleading in name, in that both hands are actually used), performed in conjunction with normal fingering by the fretting hand, facilitates the construction of note intervals that would otherwise be impossible using one hand alone. It is often used as a special effect during a shredding solo. With the electric guitar, in this situation the output tone itself is usually overdriven — although it is possible to tap acoustically — with drive serving as a boost to further amplify the non-picked (and thus naturally weaker) legato notes being played. Because of the amount of distortion generally present, the player should also focus on reducing unnecessary noise during tapping; for instance, by using the palm of the tapping hand to mute any open strings that might otherwise ring out.

The actual passages that can be played using this one-handed technique are virtually limitless. The note intervals between both hands can be shifted up or down the neck, or onto different strings, to form familiar scalar patterns, or even 'outside' tones by randomly streaming through any chosen notes for mere show (often by using chromatics or otherwise dissonant intervals).

One-handed tapping - Lead guitar lessons

See Two-handed tapping technique

As far as the actual technique goes, there are many ways of performing a one-handed tapping passage. The most common one involves rapidly repeated triplets played at a rate of sixteenth notes, using the following sequence:

Tap — pull-off — pull-off

In this case, the right hand index or middle finger sounds the first note on a string by sharply hammering onto it once, then pulling off (often with a slight, sideways 'flicking' movement so as to strengthen the note) to a lower note held by one of the left hand fingers, that of which is then finally pulled off to the last note held by another left hand finger. From there, the cycle is repeated. If one breaks that down even further, the very first part can be seen as the actual 'tapping' motion itself, whereas the second part involving the left hand acts as a way of embellishing the passage with additional notes; which, overall, could be considered an extended trill. The overall aim is to maintain fluidity and synchronisation between all the notes, especially when played at speed, which can take some practice to master.


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