In the first of a new se­ries, Chris Woods ex­plores the per­cus­sive side of acous­tic gui­tar with a look at ap­pli­ca­tions on strings and body.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

In this brand new se­ries, acous­tic vir­tu­oso Chris Woods in­tro­duces you to mod­ern styles like tap­ping, har­mon­ics, per­cus­sion and more!

Over the next four is­sues, I’ll be open­ing up the cre­ative acous­tic tool­box and shar­ing some ex­cit­ing ideas. We’ll be get­ting stuck into the per­cus­sive side of play­ing; look­ing at both string per­cus­sion and on the gui­tar body. Per­cus­sive tech­niques have been around for don­key’s years, but in the past decade they have be­come even more wide­spread. Th­ese tech­niques don't just fea­ture in py­rotech­nic vi­ral videos and niche fin­ger-style events, they can be found in main­stream pop and are equally at home in clas­si­cal mu­sic and a huge range of folk gen­res. Per­cus­sive ap­proaches are now an es­sen­tial part of the cre­ative acous­tic arse­nal. You don't have to be writ­ing vir­tu­osic in­stru­men­tals ei­ther: even the sim­plis­tic sub­tleties of string per­cus­sion have given some play­ers that ex­tra layer of magic and helped them to gain ador­ing au­di­ences – and you de­serve your share too.

All the tech­niques within this ar­ti­cle orig­i­nate from three move­ments. It’s cru­cial you keep this in mind through­out as it will help you to keep things flow­ing and stop your rhythms be­com­ing ‘spiky’ or out of time. The first two and most im­por­tant move­ments with string per­cus­sion, are down and up. They are barely distin­guish­able from the down and up strokes you use when strum­ming. The move­ment should come from turn­ing the wrist; you’ll soon no­tice how sim­i­lar a string slap is to a down­wards strum and when you do, things will flow re­ally eas­ily.

When we en­ter into the body per­cus­sion realm, you’ll still see the down and up mo­tion dom­i­nat­ing most tech­niques but you’ll also find the third move­ment. This may be new to you; we use it to achieve the low­est kick drum sound above the sound hole. The mo­tion con­sists of rock­ing your wrist so that the heel of hand creates a ‘thud’ sound against the body. Your fin­gers should nat­u­rally flick out as your wrist moves back; the move­ment does not come from your arm. It does come with a mild health warn­ing though: if you do it too hard you will crack the top of your gui­tar, so start very, very gen­tly and in­crease in vol­ume un­til it is just au­di­ble. Oh, and avoid us­ing pre-war Mar­tins or other such del­i­ca­cies on your first few run throughs! The no­ta­tion for the per­cus­sion has been put into an ex­tra line of mu­sic; the low­est note de­notes a kick drum sound us­ing the ‘third move­ment’ while the higher notes sug­gest a hit with the thumb or fin­gers. Check out the video for added clar­ity.

The ex­am­ples be­gin in the more fa­mil­iar realms of string per­cus­sion and de­velop into the oc­ca­sion­ally con­tro­ver­sial world of body per­cus­sion. Both cat­e­gories progress from begin­ner to ad­vanced. Good luck, stay re­laxed and en­joy your­self!



Chris Woods: new acous­tic se­ries be­gins

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