Rusty Cooley(3)

At a music store where I used to teach, coworkers would walk by my door and joke, “Rusty, what are you doing in there—playing video games?”

That’s because I’d be blazing through an arsenal of zany licks I came up with that sound a bit like Galaga, Centipede, DigDug, and other classic arcade machines that produce fast, primitive, computer-generated melodies and sounds. (I even have a wild chromatic run that mimics the beeping of the deep fryer at Popeyes Chicken restaurants, but that’s another story.) A great example of a “video game lick” is the eight-finger tapped riff below. People often crack up when they hear it because as it topples down the chromatic scale, it sounds like your is computer crashing, or maybe your “guy” is dying in a game of Pac-Man.

The best part about this example is that it not only sounds hilarious, it’s also the perfect introduction to multi-tapped licks in which all four of your picking-hand fingers tap notes. Starting with the pinky, each tapping finger pulls off to a pitch held by the corresponding fretting-hand finger. This makes the phrase far easier to play than the more scalar, stepwise eight-finger lines of master multi-tappers such as Jeff Watson [of Night Ranger fame] and T.J. Helmerich. Thanks to all the hand-to-hand pull-offs in this lick, you’re essentially executing four separate taps—not four in succession—before the whole process repeats on the next string. Much easier!