Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to the Basics III: 5 and 6 Finger Tapping! Review and Starting Intermediate

Hey guys! I know it's been awhile since I've posted, well, anything on this site. I've had many technical issues, from a broken amp, to my interface not working, to getting a NEW interface, and now I'm here. Been practicing my 8 and 7 finger tapping and I've gotta get you guys up to speed! Alright, let's begin:

Questions with 5-Finger Tapping and "Hammer-ons from nowhere" (HOFN)

I had a person ask about this and was wondering how it worked. I'm going to put it in context of Sea of Lies, since that was the last example.

The problem with Sea of Lies that a lot of people seem to have isn't so much with speed (as there's only two h/o's per phrase and most people's legato usually is pretty nice), it's more about getting notes to ring out evenly or just at all! The 12th fret E of the 1st string is where the trouble starts because it is the first "HOFN", which basically means there's no note before it to give it that volume boost it so badly needs. When you go to hit the note, you have to slam your pointer finger onto it and have it ring out loud enough that it's even enough with the others. What you have to watch out for is OTHER notes ringing out at the same time (like open strings) because this causes you to jump which might have whatever finger was playing before it pull the string rather than coming right off. This is when muting with your right hand palm or wrist is useful, cause even if it DID happen, no one has to know right? :)

And one more thing about tapping with the pick being held by the middle finger, rather than the thumb and index...

I find I have more control this way. I had a friend tell me that he just puts the pick against his pointer finger and taps like that, but when I try it I'm very stiff. It feels like it requires more thought and effort to hold it and THEN tap with it, whereas by letting the middle finger take the pick you're taking away half of the effort required. 

Of course, this has it's own drawback: your short one finger. But if you have a crafty ring finger there isn't too much of a problem. Most songs require only needing, at most, two fingers. Rarely have I come across one where I need three and even then that's mostly in my own songs. 

Now that that's out of the way...

6-Finger Tapping

This is the natural evolution of tapping - adding the extra finger - whether it be the middle or the ring. It requires a little extra dexterity, but for the most part is very similar to 5. You're going your hand the same way as the previous lesson shows. The only difference might be putting the pick in your mouth as opposed to your middle finger (this is what I tend to do when doing these types of runs as it opens up the rest of my hand as well).

Couple things to watch out for (I'll go in-depth on both in a minute):
  • Unwanted noise
    • You might scrape your finger(s) against an open string or another note you don't want
  • Timing
    • Remember it's just another piece of the musical puzzle. It'll take practice to get your right hand dexterous enough to be able to place that finger where you want exactly.
  • Dexterity
    • Your finger might not be ready for a full-on phrase! Practice it slowly so you can get it right.

Unwanted Noise

This is especially what happens when one finger hits a note on a string where it's not supposed to pull-off after. For example, a HOFN or just tapping the 9th fret on the 3rd string with no hand behind it. If you're in a fast run, it's often hard to make sure you get as little noise as possible. This is where having good hand position is important. If you have your palm too far off the neck of the guitar you risk extra noise, if it's too close you'll mute the lower strings. This is where you, as the player, must take extra care and practice in finding the perfect area for you to keep your right palm at while also keeping it close enough to hit the right notes.


This issue isn't much more than a practice issue that comes with dexterity, so I'll cover these together. Like always, start slow and don't go TOO fast until you can get it right every time. Slowly build up speed. Doing this allows your right hand fingers to loosen up and stretch for the weird placements that it might have to do. Getting your fingers more flexible also build up your control over them, allowing you to (potentially) do pull-offs/dead notes with your right hand while using your left to do some sweet rhythm stuff - or just let it accent what the right hand is doing!

And now I'm just going to throw some exercises your way :) I'll discuss each briefly as I put them, but it's up to you to make sure you're practicing them right!

No. 1
This one isn't too hard. Barre across the 10th fret with whatever finger on the left hand and do the tapping with the right hand. Be extra careful that you really hit the G and E "12"s at the end of each phrase, because those are the hardest to make smooth and sound nice at higher tempos. This exercise is used to get your fingers warmed-up and used to the actions it's about to do. To make it a little harder/fun try sliding out of the 12th frets into higher frets. 

For this one tap in this order: index, middle, index, middle

No. 2

This one is a little harder as you don't want this one ringing out. It builds upon the last one by adding an HOFN to the phrase: the 10th fret G. To make this exercise work, when you pull of from the D to the Bb slam your left hand ring finger on the 10th fret. When you hit the 12th fret G make sure your pinky is on the10th fret  F quick enough to ring out nicely! Positioning of the left hand IN TIME with the right hand is important in this one. Make sure everything is perfectly clean at a good tempo before you move-on... it only gets harder!

For this one tap in this order: Index, index, middle x2

No. 3 (3.1/3.2)

Now for the big dog... it combines all that you've learned from the previous exercises and lessons. This one starts off with HOFNs and slowly builds on itself. The 8/8 bar is it's own exercise, as is the 9/8 and then the 7/8 is the hardest. Honestly, just do your HOFNs and do the tapping. This one I'm gonna leave you to figure out :) Not to be mean, but it's just more rewarding that way! It's pretty much all self-explanatory since you've done the other exercises (right?). 

The tapping is: Index, Middle... repeat indefinitely

And now for a good quote...

"Do not practice until you get it right; practice until you don't get it wrong"

And with that? I bid you adieu!

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