Master Class(9)

December 1, 2004

Tap, Crackle, Pop! Regi Wooten's Tantalizing Two-Handed Tapping Tactics
By Jude Gold

“I get people doing amazing two-handed riffs by the end of their first lesson, even if they've never played guitar before,” claims Regi Wooten, who teaches upwards of 100 loyal students per week. “They go home and amaze their moms. It's a much more exciting way to start on the guitar than just learning a scale.”

Wooten is one of guitardom's best-kept secrets. Rather than chasing down record deals and celebrity, shouting, “World, hear me now!” as so many throngs of hungry, ambitious musicians seem to do, he seems content taking the more reclusive path, using his gift to quietly astound and inspire students in his home in a woodsy neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee. You can, however, hear Wooten's playing on Live in America, a concert album by a pupil who began learning from Wooten at the tender age of three—his younger brother, the standing-ovation-inducing bassist extraordinaire, Victor Wooten. “When I do clinics,” said Victor in an interview with Bass Player magazine, “people ask me where I got this or that technique, and I often say my brother Regi taught me. Everything I do on bass Regi does on the guitar—tapping, thumb stuff, everything. Some things we developed together, and some things I've shown him, but he's really the basis of everything I do.”

Though Regi is a master of two-handed guitar playing (he brought the house down at this year's Buffalo Niagara Guitar Festival when he hopped onstage and played a radical, fully tapped blues solo over a slow, greasy 12/8 shuffle), he stresses that being a proficient tapper is only one aspect of being a modern, multi-dimensional electric guitarist.

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Rock Guru - Greg Koch: The Devil's Interval
As told to Jude Gold

I'm here to tell you about the Devil's Interval, or the tonus diabolicus—which is the name the ancient monks gave that simple interval we call the tritone. If you'll recall, back towards the demise of the Roman Empire, when the monks were ensconced in their mountain hideaways (thus escaping the plundering barbarians), they were the only keepers of culture. And so, when they were sifting through the musical tidbits left behind by the Greeks and Romans, they began to place spiritual significance on intervals.

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EZ Street: How to Fingerpick Alternating Bass Patterns
By Andy Ellis

Popularized by Merle Travis and refined by Chet Atkins and Doc Watson, the “alternating bass” fingerpicking style plays a key role in folk, country, and acoustic blues. Mastering this technique takes time, but it's easy to explore the fundamentals.

The basic concept is simple: In a measure of 4/4, thumb bass notes on the first and third beats. Most often, beat one is the root and beat three is a different chord tone—usually the 5, but sometimes the 3. As implied by the “alternating bass” moniker, these notes occur on the three lowest strings.

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Acoustic Guru - Peter Huttlinger: Cross-String Melodies
As told to Andy Ellis

As a solo guitarist, I'm always looking for ways to coax more chime and sustain from my 6-string. By weaving open strings into a melody line, I can keep several tones ringing—and create intriguing harmony—even as I navigate a single-note passage.

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Woodshed: Jazzing Up the Blues with Drop-Twos
By Craig Hlady

You may not realize it, but drop-two chords offer a slick way to liven up ordinary blues changes with rich, jazzy colors. They're also handy for creating masterfully smooth chord transitions. And don't worry: If you're wondering what the heck a drop-two is, you're probably more familiar with this common voicing than you think.

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Metal Guru - Rusty Cooley: Single-String Triads
As told to Jude Gold

Single-string triads—their name sounds a bit technical and boring, but these feisty three-note groupings sound amazing when played psychotically fast over a vicious shred metal groove—which is not to imply they're only of use to metalheads. Rock, fusion, and jazz players will also find them to be handy improvisational tools, whether they choose to play them fast, slow, picked, hammered, or pulled. Single-string triads do often require wide stretches of the fretting hand, but the payoff is huge: a refreshing, highly intervallic sound that opens the door to inspiring new melodic textures.

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