IN THE WOODSHED

Char­lie Grif­fiths goes to the woodshed where he chan­nels Van Halen, Steve Morse and Scott Hen­der­son to bring you tapped har­mon­ics.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths says get that pick­ing-hand digit ready for some tapped har­mon­ics ac­tion.

Tapped har­mon­ics are a way of pro­duc­ing har­mon­ics by quickly tap­ping the string with your fret­ting­hand fin­ger. Typ­i­cally the sec­ond fin­ger is used so the pick can con­tinue to be held with your first fin­ger and thumb. The ad­van­tage of tapped har­mon­ics is that they can be added to fret­ted notes quickly, and eas­ily in­cor­po­rated among other tech­niques. Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous ex­am­ple of this is Ed­die Van Halen’s solo from Michael Jack­son’s Beat It in which he seam­lessly uses slides, bends, two-handed tap­ping, di­ve­bombs and tapped har­mon­ics.

All har­mon­ics, be they nat­u­ral, pinched, or tapped fol­low the same rules of physics, but first we must un­der­stand what a har­monic is. When you pluck a note on the gui­tar you are hear­ing a fun­da­men­tal pitch, which is the name of the note you are play­ing; you are also hear­ing over­tones, which are all the fre­quen­cies that com­bine to make the note sound rich and beau­ti­ful. When we play har­mon­ics, we are iso­lat­ing th­ese over­tones and hear­ing them as new pitches. The har­mon­ics are found at ‘node’ points along the string and there are many.

The node points can be tricky to find, but we can make some sense of it by di­vid­ing the string into equal chunks. The first har­monic di­vides a string in half, the sec­ond into three equal parts, the third into four equal parts, the fourth into five equal parts. Those are the first four har­mon­ics found along a string and are rel­a­tively easy to find. This string divi­sion is demon­strated in Ex­am­ple 1, with some nat­u­ral har­mon­ics. From low to high the four har­mon­ics are: an oc­tave above the open D, then an oc­tave plus a 5th above, two oc­taves above and fi­nally two oc­taves plus a 3rd.

This ap­proach will work for ev­ery note on the fret­board. Ex­am­ple 3 shows how you can ap­ply it to clean chords to pro­duce beau­ti­ful Steve Morse style chimes. To re­ally make th­ese sing, make sure you tap the string di­rectly on to the fret-wire, not be­tween the frets. You can also add some re­verb and de­lay to com­plete the ef­fect. You can ap­ply tapped har­mon­ics to scales, too, as shown in Ex­am­ple 4. This tech­nique brings to mind a Scott Hen­der­son style ring mod­u­la­tor ef­fect, per­fect for adding a a dif­fer­ent tex­ture to your tone. In our fi­nal ex­am­ple we look at com­bin­ing tech­niques and in­cor­po­rat­ing tapped har­mon­ics in the con­text of a solo. To make things eas­ier on your­self, use a gen­er­ous amount of gain as the the har­mon­ics are more likely to sound clean and have enough sus­tain to make even Nigel Tufnel jeal­ous!

NEXT MONTH Char­lie re­veals some of his favourite whammy bar tricks

in van hal en’s solo in beat it he seam­lessly uses sli des, bends, tw ohan d ta pping , dive-bombs an d ta pped har moni cs

Ed­die Van Halen: a mas­ter at play­ing tapped har­mon­ics

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