CHORD TAP­PING Video les­son

In the first of a three-part video se­ries on chord tap­ping, Paul Biela­tow­icz ex­plores some of the won­der­ful sounds that can be cre­ated us­ing this unique ap­proach.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Paul Biela­tow­icz be­gins a jour­ney into the won­der­ful world of chord tap­ping. Dis­cover this in­cred­i­ble way to make beau­ti­ful mu­sic.

For many, the phrase ‘two-handed tap­ping’ evokes images of shred­ders us­ing both hands to take their so­los to hyper-speed. But that’s not the whole pic­ture and if that’s your view of the tech­nique then you’re miss­ing out on a huge tonal pal­ette and ar­guably a more taste­ful ap­pli­ca­tion for the tech­nique.

There is a long-held de­bate over who first stum­bled upon the two-handed tap­ping tech­nique; cer­tainly its use and pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion in rock gui­tar can be traced back to Ed­die Van Halen and Steve Hack­ett’s in­no­va­tions, but it’s prob­a­ble that the tech­nique has been ex­per­i­mented with for as long as the gui­tar has been in ex­is­tence.

We’ve all come across that awk­ward stretchy chord voic­ing that made us wish we had ex­tra dig­its, or the awk­ward leap to a high note in a melody: you can’t help think­ing that the idea of us­ing dig­its from both hands to make life easy in such sit­u­a­tions must have oc­curred to gui­tarists play­ing the ear­li­est ver­sions of the in­stru­ment. Far from be­ing a cool trick to pull out when we want to im­press fel­low gui­tarists, two-handed tap­ping can be a hugely valu­able tool that al­lows us to play things oth­er­wise im­pos­si­ble, as well as open­ing up new ways of think­ing about our in­stru­ment – ap­proaches closer to the way a pi­anist might think. In­tro­duc­ing a tap­ping finger or two gives us ac­cess to new chord voic­ings – many of which would be un­playable us­ing the dig­its of one hand alone. It also adds new tonal colours to our pal­ette of sounds: giv­ing us smooth rip­pling le­gato or per­cus­sive blocks of har­mony.

When ven­tur­ing into the world of tap­ping, we’re faced with a few chal­lenges that we might not have pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered on our in­stru­ment. The first is a mat­ter of mak­ing sure we only play the notes that we want to play, while min­imis­ing open-string noise. Many gui­tarists strug­gle with string-mut­ing while tap­ping us­ing mul­ti­ple dig­its, as all fin­gers on both hands are of­ten far too busy play­ing notes to think about mut­ing. A great so­lu­tion for this is to use a damp­ing de­vice: I used hair ties be­fore I dis­cov­ered Gruv Gear’s FretWraps – a cheap pur­pose-made string damper. How­ever, the draw­back of any kind of damper is that it ren­ders open strings un­us­able; if we want ac­cess to th­ese we must ditch our dampers and learn to mute un­wanted strings us­ing the sides of dig­its and palms of both hands.

But don’t spend too much time wor­ry­ing about it, be­cause string-mut­ing tends to be some­thing of a nat­u­ral in­stinct most gui­tarists de­velop without think­ing too much about its pre­cise me­chan­ics – and so it is with mut­ing dur­ing tap­ping. The best ad­vice is just to be con­scious that you’re not just fo­cus­ing on the notes that you’re play­ing, but also on keep­ing the un­wanted strings muted us­ing which­ever ‘spare parts’ of the two hands are avail­able.

Stick with me and I guar­an­tee you’ll dis­cover some amaz­ing - and rather im­pres­sive - new sounds. If you’ve never seen play­ers like Stan­ley Jor­dan in ac­tion, check him out on YouTube to see the kind of thing that’s pos­si­ble with chord tap­ping.


COVER FEA­TURE Stan­ley Jor­dan made a mas­sive splash in the ’80s with his amaz­ing chord tap­ping

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