Photo Credit: Tom Mileshko
Last week we shared a video of African guitarist Ronnie Moipolai, who plays his guitar in an open tuning and frets with his hand over the top of the neck. Part of Ronnie’s distinctive technique is his knuckle-roll fret maneuver, as can be seen in the video in our post.
Ronnie’s knuckle-roll technique is unusual, but his “over the top” style of fretting isn’t. In fact, it’s the primary style used by Erik Mongrain. The 35-year-old Canadian composer and guitarist uses a technique called lap tapping, in which the guitar is laid across the lap and played with both hands on the fretboard. This technique can be elaborated on with rhythmic taps and slaps on the guitar’s body and neck, something that Mongrain makes part of his performance.
Mongrain’s history is particularly interesting. Early in his playing, he was inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix, Metallica and Kurt Cobain. When he was 18 he heard guitarist Don Ross, a celebrated fingerstylist who often uses percussive techniques and intricate up- and downstroke patterns. "This was a new revelation to me,” Mongrain says. “I finally found my niche.” He was subsequently influenced by the work of the late Michael Hedges.
You can get a look at Mongrain’s technique in the video below. Check it out and visit his YouTube page for more of his videos.