Chuck Schuldiner Project

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to the Basics II: 5-Finger Tapping

Welcome again! Today I'm going to recap what I went over last time and then go into a bit about tapping with the pointer finger instead of the middle.

Recap: 5-Finger Tapping with the Middle Finger

I wanted to expand a little bit on sweep tapping until I move on (considering the first half is pretty self-explanatory). The hardest part about sweep tapping is getting it clean and making sure the tap comes out nice and loud. Obviously the sweeping part of it is a lot about starting slow and building up until its clean. When you finally get ready to add the tap there's a small thing that you have to do before, unless you're ridiculously fast which I'd have to ask: why are you even reading this?!

The hammer on before the tap. Now, hammering-on at the top of a sweep should be nothing new, but when you do it it has to be consistent with the tap which can have a tendency to either be louder or softer than the previous notes. Again, just start slowly and build up speed. When you finally get to the top of the sweep make sure no strings are ringing out - if they are use either your left hand open fingers to mute them or lightly scrape your picking hand forearm against the string, if done properly you should have nothing ringing out - and tap the note on top. If it's a tap-slide you just slide and pull-off to whatever finger on your left hand. 

That's enough for that, I have other things to get to, but get your single string tapping up and then apply it to sweeps. There's loads of deathcore bands that use it all the time. Just learn the parts you want and move on... I know... it's painful sometimes... 

5-Finger Tapping: Tapping with the Pointer Finger

Now we're into the fun stuff! This is my preferred style of tapping when I do it with one finger. I tend to tap more in the style of Michael Romeo (long tapping sections with a lot of hammering on with the left hand). I'm actually going to be showing my first real tapping exercise/song: "Sea of Lies" by Symphony X. 

This finger tends to be a bit more complicated because you have to move the pick from your thumb/pointer to be held by your middle finger alone. I'll grab some pictures of what I mean: 

Step 1 (holding the pick): 

Step 2 (the "slide"):

Step 3 (release):

That little black thing is my Jazz III. While it is a small pick, I've been able to do it with normal picks as well. This is honestly the hardest part of this style of tapping. Just getting the transition right is half the battle (you could also put it in your mouth a la Tosin Abasi, but it's harder to really grab the pick afterwards and better used for extremely long and complex passages that require multiple fingers); once you get this down it's pretty simple. Now, onto the examples!

After this is done nicely to a consistent level (I think I practiced only the transition for about 30 minutes to an hour) getting the actual tapping position is important. I'll post some pics and then explain:

Notice the thumb placement (no pick because it blocked the picture):

Now look at pinky placement as well as where I'm holding the pick and where the palm of my hand is (VERY important):

The thumb is where it is for comfort and balance. On the back of the neck, but forward enough you can reach all the strings with your pointer finger. Either right on the "dot" markers or a little underneath them.

The pinky is for balance mainly (for passages like the Sea of Lies third solo I end up putting all my extra fingers on the bottom of the guitar) and it helps for getting your hand in the right place for muting purposes. 

Now... muting! This is one of the MOST important things about this style of tapping because it allows for you to mute any string at any time. The palm of the hand (and the wrist sometimes) can be maneuvered on top of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th strings to barely touch them thus muting nicely. The fingers on the fretting hand (or the ones on the tapping hand) can be used to mute the 1st and 2nd. After you practice the transition consistently this is the next thing to work on and both of the next examples are very good for it.

Sea of Lies Solo 1 Tapping:

This one is pretty easy. The main trick to it is making sure you go into the tap nicely, rather than coming out of it. Those hammer-ons prior to the tap (as well as moving from string to string or "hammer-ons from nowhere") need to be smooth for the tap to really come out. 

The last third of the solo is extremely simple as well, just hit the tapped notes and pull-off fast and accurately. 

Yes, I know this could be done with the middle finger, but we're playing Symphony X here! It also gets you really quick at the switch from holding it in the middle finger to putting the pick back in place since right after you have to hit some power chords. Another good thing about this one is it lets you get used to muting the strings with your palm as you move from string to string.

Sea of Lies Solo 3 Tapping (the hard one):

Now for the fun one! While this one is long every two bars is one phrase/chord essentially making it relatively short. When you start this one you need to make sure that first tapping phrase (the first triplet) is nice and accurate. If done right it will set you up to change strings very nicely.

The string skipping is the hardest part though. When you do you have to make sure you don't pull-off from the 1st string or hit the second string. Luckily, you can mute the lower two extremely fast with the fretting hand before or even as you hit the tap. When you hit the 3rd string you do your normal tapping pull-off/hammer-on business and then you have to jump back up to the 1st string with some hammer-ons from nowhere (make sure they're powerful enough to compete with the rest of the notes evenly!). This is where the hardest part comes in: making sure you can mute the 3rd string properly. If you don't you'll have an annoying open G ringing out while you hit the notes and it sound ugly and isn't clean at all. I end up muting with the crease of my palm (between the ball and the pinky bone area) and it ends up sounding just fine.

To help with the muting you can either move your forearm up and down slightly while keeping your wrist straigh, but I prefer to just pivot the wrist. You can cover a lot of ground this way and don't put too much pressure on the strings.

Just start slow, make it clean, speed it up, make it clean... you'll be fine.

Two things and I'm done with this section. 

One: Here's another fun exercise:

Two: I enjoy this tapping style because it also allows for you to use your ring finger to tap another note. Example that I wrote:

Every odd tapped note is tapped with the pointer and every even tapped note is done with the ring. Practice it... it's fun!

Now that's a way to lead into the 6-finger tapping section! This is where things start becoming more abstract and you stop seeing it as often... this is where you begin to separate the men from the boys in the world of tapping (and then there's touchstyle - which I can BARELY do - that puts the boys and men in the same category as they watch them and laugh from their throne built of touchstyle goodness... curse you Andy McKee!!!!!).

Enjoy, keep practicing, and thank you for reading! Continue your learning!

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