Rusty Cooley(5)

February 14, 2006

There are so many ways to tweak and mutate standard tap licks. When you get enough options at your fingertips, you can mix, match, and mutate different techniques to make your two-handed tapping textures much more artful, unpredictable, and downright freaky sounding than many people would expect. This lesson focuses on one fun approach that evolves naturally from experimenting with classic tapped riffs such as

Ex. 1a. Perhaps you’ve toyed with three-note tap-pull-hammer riffs like this first lick. (The slash marks simply indicate that the previous beat’s notes are repeated.) Mess around with it for even two minutes, and you may stumble upon riffs like Ex. 1b—a tapped texture that employs the exact same sequence of moves, but involves only two different pitches, because the first and last notes are the same. This means that when each new triplet occurs, the tapping finger—I usually use my middle—comes very close on the heels of the fretting-hand finger that has just hammered at the same fret.

Miraculously, if you play moves like this with a reasonable level of accuracy and get your fretting-hand finger out of the way in plenty of time, collisions are pretty rare, even at high speeds or wide intervallic distances [Ex. 2]. The artfulness comes when you smoothly expand to different intervals and can shift positions cleanly to create wild licks like the E harmonic meltdown in Ex. 3. You can also move out of the triplet feel and into quadruplet phrasing, using the tap-pull-

hammer-pull attack shown in Ex. 4. Get this approach down, and you can play one of the most annoying licks known to man—a texture I call “The Mosquito” [Ex. 5] Composed of an ever-shifting half-step, this lick is totally grating. Move it up and down the neck and also try playing it in the tap-pull-hammer triplet feel outlined earlier. You’ll know you’ve got it down when your friends start laughing—or become so irked they grab a broom and swat you down.
—As told to Jude Gold

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