IF THERE ARE, AS THEY SAY,
an infinite number of ways to play one note,
just imagine how many ways there must
be to play two. You can probably already
demonstrate several two-note tactics, but
don’t stop there. Let’s check out a thrilling
mode of attack you can use on as few as a
pair of pitches that you may not have tried.
We’ll start with the two E’s (separated
by an octave) in Ex. 1. Then, through a series
of simple stages, we’ll evolve our attack until
we arrive at a high-adrenaline, high-impact,
harmonic-happy approach that works in
every key and most time signatures—a fast,
fun technique I call “ricocheting sixteenths.”
Let’s get things rolling by picking our
two E’s, playing them at a modest tempo,
as eighth-notes separated by eighth-rests
(Ex. 2). Next, in Ex. 3, loop the same bar,
but immediately after you pick each upper
E, follow it with a hammered lower E. (Yes,
the picked lower E immediately follows
note you just hammered.) Then, in Ex. 4,
add one more hammered note to our pattern:
After each picked lower E, hammer
the upper E before it is again picked.
Now, we’re ready to ricochet. The main
thing we have to do, though, is switch from
eighth-notes to sixteenths. That simply
means that instead of hitting two notes per
down beat (“one-and-two-and…”), we have
to shift gears and sound four notes per
downbeat (“one-ee-and-a, two-ee-anda…”).
Plus, for extra adrenaline, we’re
going to jack the tempo range up to as fast
as 160bpm. All of these changes have been
implemented in the most important example
in this lesson, Ex. 5. Before we hot-rod
Ex. 5’s basic ricocheting approach in several
cool ways, though, make sure you have
it down solidly. Here are some tips to help
make it come alive:
“Ricocheting” licks sound equally great
with clean or distorted tones.
This technique should be easy to play
on any electric or acoustic that is set up
Employing fretting-hand string muting
to deaden unused strings is helpful. This
liberates your picking hand to strike the
strings more freely, allowing for a more
powerful, loose, and natural attack.
For a nimble, tasteful timbre, rest the
heel of your picking hand on the bridge to
palm mute the lower strings. This lick
sounds killer with the higher picked note
struck hard and unmuted, and the lower
one played more softly and palm-muted.
Got the general feel down? Does your
performance have a relaxed, cruising, firing-
on-all-cylinders sound? Great. Now
you’re ready to customize this move in
several cool ways.
For instance, who says we have to restrict
ourselves to an octave? We can do exciting,
fast-tempo power fifth intervals that expand
to minor sixths (Ex. 6). Or, brighten things
with major harmony, as we do Ex. 7.
That’s just the beginning. Stay tuned
for even more ricocheting riffery next
Jude Gold is the Director of GIT, the Guitar
Program at Musicians Institute, and GP’s Los
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