Introduction to guitar tapping part 2

By now you know the very basics of guitar tapping. I suggest you read the introduction to guitar tapping before moving on to this lesson. This post continues on exactly where the first post left off. In this lesson you will learn how to move your hands during 2 handed tapping and incorporating more notes in your left hand. Let’s dive in and get to the meat of it.

You are now playing one note of each hand. The next step is to add a second note on your left hand. Also keep in mind that you should be considering what notes belong to that key while practicing. Just picking random notes isn’t going to sound good. How you incorporate a second note in the left hand is by adding a hammer on. So you tapping with your right hand pull off to the first finger of your left hand and hammer on the third finger of your left hand, complete this with another tap. I will give a tab example to show you what this looks like.

guitar tapping

A guitar tapping lick in the key of G. Tap on the 7th fret, pull off to your first (index) finger on the third fret and hammer on your ring finger on the 5th fret.

After you are comfortable with adding the second note to your left hand you can add a third note. All you need to do is hammer on with your new finger and you note have 3 notes in your left hand. Typically when you hammer on 3 notes they are stretched out. Experiment and see what you can come up with.

How can you improve your right hand? You can start to move it around on the neck. Say you start tapping on the 7th fret. Next time you tap you can tap then 8th fret. Then you can tap the 10th fret. Keep your tapping in the key signature for now, but you can move the note to any note in the key of G. One of the great things about this technique is that it lets you hit some very wide intervals easily. So don’t be afraid to move your fingers up the neck as far as you want.

guitar tapping with a moving right hand

The same guitar tapping lick except you are moving your tapping hand around.

Take your time going through this material. Learning a few things well can take you a longer distance than learning a lot poorly. Now that you have the basics down you can start jumping into more advanced tapping techniques. You can start moving your left hand, and switching strings. There is a whole world of guitar tapping available to those who want it. Practice hard, but most importantly enjoy it.

Introduction to guitar tapping

Undoubtedly you have come across guitar tapping before. It is a pretty well-known technique especially in rock music, and it is fun to learn and play. In this lesson you will learn the basics of guitar tapping. Don’t get too freaked out, it isn’t that hard. After this lesson you will understand the basics of guitar tapping, and with a little practice you should be able to start incorporating it into your own playing. When we consider guitar tapping, most people think of the right hand part. In actuality there are 2 equal parts in guitar tapping. There is the right hand and the left hand. I am going to first going to explain how to use the right hand, and then I will explain how to use the left hand.

The easiest part of guitar tapping is the right hand. All you are doing is hammering on and pulling off. For this lesson I am going to assume you are using a pick. All you need to do with your right hand is tap your middle finger down on a note. Do this a few times to see how hard you need to press to make the note sound. Don’t do it too hard, this will slow you down and possibly start to hurt. Just do it hard enough to make noise. When you are comfortable with this you can either pull off upward or downward. I suggest you do it downward, because this will allow for more advanced tapping later on. This is all your right hand does is tap on and pull off.

What is so important about your left hand while tapping? This is easy, it takes 2 to tango. Your left hand is in control of the notes you play when your right hand pulls off. At first for a beginner to two-handed tapping I suggest you play 1 note at a time on the left hand. So what you are basically doing is tap, note, tap, note. Later on you will advance this to more difficult techniques, but for starting out this will take you far.

Combining the 2 hands in 2 handed tapping is a matter of coordination. This is true no matter how advanced you get. Once you get your hands moving in harmony with each other, your tapping will start to flow. Another thing to mention about the 2 hands is that both of them can move. They don’t have to start on 1 note. However for a beginner the less you move both hands the easier it is to play. Keep that in mind.

The very basics of guitar tapping are not hard, and it can be fun to play. If you play rock guitar this is an important skill to know how to use. All your right hand does is tap on with the middle finger and pull off. I suggest you pull off downward. Once you get your 2 hands moving in harmony together it will start to sound fluid and better. If you want to continue to part 2 of this click here.

Six steps to transcribing music.

You have a melody or solo you want to learn by ear, so how do you go about doing this? There are 6 steps that you can do to get the most benefit from this. 2 of the 6 are optional, but I recommend you do it for maximum benefit. So what are these steps?

Step one: Listen. This is the most important part of transcribing. Do you think a deaf person could transcribe? Open your ears and listen to what the musician (or singer) is playing. You can listen as many times as you want before you start. Keep in mind, this step will be continuous. It will never stop. Even when you are on step 2 – 6, you will still need to listen very carefully. This is the foundation for the rest of the steps.

Step two: Sing. This is one of the optional stages, but it does help. Once you listen to the melody or solo of choice try to sing with it. Depending on the difficulty of the piece you may need to cut it into smaller sections to sing with it. This will help you hear it better. It will help you memorize how it sounds. Humming works too, but singing is in my opinion better.

Step three: Put it on your instrument. Once you hear what it sounds like try to figure out how it lies on your instrument. This part helps build the connection between ears and fingers. Someone who transcribes a lot can play melodies they hear in their head without sitting down and working it out. This is an important part of the transcribing practice. This step is also connected closely with step 4 and 5 of transcribing music.

Step four: write it down. This is optional, but for certain genres of music this is almost necessary. For learning a 4 measure rock solo I don’t think this step is necessary, but for a 32 measure jazz solo it is. This will allow you to analyze what the musician did, his note choice and rhythms. It also is beneficial because you can go back and review it later. Everyone forgets their transcriptions after time. This gives you the option of reviewing that cool lick that you forgot existed.

Step five: Memorize it. This is a necessary step for all styles of music. When you come across a new word, does it help you at all if you go “word” and don’t look it up or try to memorize it? You won’t remember it. So memorizing your transcriptions is an important part of transcribing.

Step Six: Analyze. As mentioned earlier under writing it down. Analyzing the solo is a useful step. Even if you don’t write the transcribed piece of music down, you should still try to analyze it and figure out what he is doing. What scale he is using, what rhythms he is using. This will make you a more educated musician and you will know exactly why you do something and why it works.

These 6 steps are a great place to start if you want to start transcribing music. You will slowly change and alter these steps to go along with your own personal practice routine. Everyone is different; there is no concrete thing in music. This is one of the great things about music. You get to be yourself. Take these steps and utilize them to get the best benefit you can. If you find something works better than something else for you, take it and run with it.  Best wishes!

How to get the most out of transcribing music with transcribing software

There are many types of software out there that are beneficial for transcribing. Some cost money, but some are free. Before you go and spend money on anything let’s talk about how you can get the most benefit from the transcribing software. Remember, the transcribing software is just a tool. It only assist you in what you are trying to do, it cannot replace the process. So with this is mind lets jump in.

Transcribing software can slow the music down if it is too fast for you to hear it. This is a last resort tool in my opinion. You should first try to transcribe at full speed. Once you know it, then you can slow it down to check your accuracy. If the phrase is over all too fast, you can slow it down a bit. However the closer it is to normal speed the better your ears will get. This is the whole point of transcribing, to train your ears. So yes slowing the music down can be beneficial, but as mentioned it is only a tool to assist you.

Most transcribing software comes with a key adjustment. It allows you to take the music in a key that is better for you. It may even come with a fine adjustment in case the recording is not quite in tune with your guitar. This is nice to have especially for people like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Yngwie Malmsteen who tunes their guitars down a half step. The only thing I would warn against with this tool is don’t learn everything in the same key. If someone is playing in Bb suck it up and learn it. Don’t take the easy way out. Learn it in the original key if possible. It will really benefit your playing.

Most transcribing software comes with a control to help you repeat sections of a song. This is beneficial so you don’t have to manually rewind a section of a solo you are trying to learn. Use this as much as you want. It really saves a lot of time. It can really help you memorize a sound of a lick as well.

Of course all transcribing software is different, some may have more tools than these, some may only have these, but what else do you really need? Anything else is cheating. You don’t want to cheat do you? So what transcribing software should you get? Well I use the program called “BestPractice”. It is free, and it does everything I listed above.  I would suggest you try this program out, if you don’t like it then you can search for other ones. I wouldn’t pay for this software unless you really have to, but everyone has different preferences. Just keep in mind what was mentioned earlier.

Transcribing software is a valuable tool if used properly. It can help you learn extremely hard passages of music that you wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise, or it could help you play in tune with the original recording easier. Whatever the reason it is nice to aid your practice. Transcribing software is a tool to assist your practice. You can’t replace the benefit you receive using your ears. So try to push your ears as much as possible, but this program can help with that process. There are many transcribing software programs out there, just do some research. You don’t need to spend $75 on this software. Blessing!

What is transcribing music?

Music is an aural tradition. A lot of music history only survived because some people listened to it. Without using our ears music is useless. So what is transcribing music? It is the best way to learn how to improvise in music. Transcribing music is the process of intense listening and repeating. We hear a solo we like so we listen to it and try to get the same sound that the musician on the record is getting. This process is the basis for a lot of things we already know.

Consider a child who is just starting to learn how to talk. He first listens to his parents. He spends a year and a half to 2 years of just listening before he even says a word. Then after that intense listening he starts to try to reproduce the sounds his parents are making. He has no concept yet of what he is really saying. After a few more months he starts to realize that certain words mean certain things, and that they fit in certain situations.

Learning music is the exact same process. Music is a language in itself. You don’t need to spend 2 years listening, but the process of listening closely, repeating, and finally understanding the context is important. The only way you can achieve this is to transcribe music. Once you start transcribing music you will start to learn licks (words) that you can combine together to make musical phrases. When you hear a solo, especially longer solo such as the ones you hear in jazz, the artist is trying to tell a story with his playing. Transcribing music will help you learn the language of music faster, more authentically and over all better.

With the advance of technology transcribing music has become much easier. In the older days you didn’t have MP3 players, internet, YouTube etc.  How you transcribed before was ways like listen to the radio and try to pick out as much as you can while it played by, or you would have a record player and if you wanted to replay a section it would make it difficult to find the spot you want. My favorite story about transcribing music before technology was Charlie Parker. His nick name is Yard Bird; this is because of how he learned to play. When he was learning to play he would go sit in a yard bird pin behind a bar and listen to bands play and try to catch as much as he could. He couldn’t rewind, I’m sure this wasn’t the easiest way to learn, but this is the old times. These days there are programs out there that slow music down, and change keys for you. So if you are interested in this read my post on Transcribing Software.

Music is a language, you learn it the same way, and you use it the same way. Transcribing music is the same process a child uses when they learn their first language. They first listen then they try to mimic the sounds of their parents. This is the best way to learn, it makes you sound native, speeds up the process of learning, and helps you hear it. Learning music is getting easier because of technology, so use it for your benefit.

What is economy picking and how do you do it?


Over the years players have always tried to make their playing easier. Getting the biggest bang for their buck was in mind. They came up with this idea of combining alternate picking and sweet picking. This allowed them to gain speed, control and still have that rough picking sound that you don’t get with legato playing or hybrid picking. For some players this is their primary picking style, for others it is just another tool is their tool kit. Either way, it is good to know what economy picking is and how it works.

Typically when people use economy picking it is over 3-note per string scales. This is because of the picking pattern required for it to work. The picking pattern is down, up, down, down, up, down, down for ascending, and when you are descending you have up, down, up, up, down, up, up, down. The ascending and descending patterns are the same except they are reversed.  When you have the 2 down strokes or 2 up strokes is when you switch strings. This is how economy picking is similar to sweep picking.

A good exercise to do when you first start practicing economy picking is to do it without any notes at all. Concentrate 100% on the right hand. You can add notes later, but concentrating just on the right hand will make the process faster. I also suggest that when you first start out, practice switching from 2 strings. When you get comfortable using economy picking switching between 2 strings add the 3rd. gradually build up to all 6 strings. It won’t take as long as you would think.

Once you get a good grip on the basic economy picking 3 notes per string there are some altered patterns you can learn that can give you some really cool new ideas. Some players like Frank Gambale and Derryl Gabel use a lot of economy picking in their playing. This technique is not the end all be all of guitar by any means, but it is a useful thing to know.

Economy picking is a technique that is a mixture between alternate picking and sweep picking and allows for more speed than alternate picking. Economy picking is set up so that when you switch strings you continue in the same direction you were already going. Hence you do 2 down strokes or up strokes at the same time while switching strings. Practice this on 2 strings and slowly build up to all 6 strings. This is another fun technique that you can use to enjoy your music, which is what music is all about.

Playing across bar lines – Implying odd time signatures in 4/4

Most musicians when playing in 4/4 consider each measure a connect unit. When you play like this it is very easy to differentiate between each beat and each measure. This is the norm because this is what most people is familiar hearing, and this is how they are taught. There is a whole world of possibilities waiting to be explored if you learn to play outside of the common time signature. If you learn to imply an odd time signature over 4/4 you can easily add a little extra spice to your playing.

When you imply an odd time signature you are still playing 100% in time, you are just disguising your rhythm so it seems like the song changed. With this approach, the rhythm you choose will take some amount of time to cycle around and return where it started. The way to do this is to pick an odd number. The easiest numbers to play are 5 and 7. For this lesson I will use 5, if you are interested in taking this further, you can apply this principle to 3, 7, 9 or any odd number.

To explain how this works I will use common counting for the 16th note, but I will explain an easier way to count for this principle. Count in 16th notes, here is a diagram to show you the 16th notes.

This shows how to count 16th notes so that you can learn to imply odd time signatures

Take a piece of paper and write this out. Then on every 5th count put an X over it. It will then look like this.

counting odd time signatures

When you play this it will go over each bar line. This will cycle around and eventually come back to where it started. So how do we count this? You need to feel the 16th note beat then count 1 2 3 4 skip a beat 1 2 3 4 skip a beat. Make sure you really feel the 16th note rhythm. After you work on this for awhile you will start to memorize it and it won’t seem as hard. Just like everything else start slow and work up.

How do you incorporate this in to your playing? Well this concept is used a lot in djent metal and they use it for rhythm. You can come up with complex rhythms that are single note rhythms that repeat, or you can use a simple power chord with this rhythm. Another possible use for this concept is soloing. Why not throw this concept into a solo for a couple measures to add a little freshness to your playing. If this concept is something that lends itself to your style of playing, then you will find a use for it. If not then you are at least aware that this exist.

Playing over the bar line is a great way to spice up your playing. Implying odd time signatures with 16th notes will sure change the sound. There are many uses, experiment to find something that fits you style. Have fun with this new bit of knowledge!

How to start alternate picking on guitar

When you progress in your guitar playing and start to play single note lines, you won’t be able to strum these notes so you will need a new approach for your right hand. A lot of people when they first start single note lines pick only downward. I advise against this. Only picking downward will slow you do dramatically. Consider how easily you can walk if you only moved one leg? So this is where alternate picking comes in.

Alternate picking is no different from walking. If you were walking you would first move your right leg, then your left, repeating this over and over again. Picking the guitar is the same. You pick down, and then you pick up and repeat over and over. This may feel difficult at first, but give it time and it will feel as natural as walking.

When you walk up a flight of stairs do you change your walking pattern? No! You still put one foot in front of the other. Each step you take uses the opposite leg.  When you change strings on guitar it is the exact same process as walking up stairs. You still continue to pick down up down up. This is how alternate picking got named. You are constantly alternating between down strokes and up strokes no matter what.

When you first start to practice alternate picking keep your mind focused on it. You may start to slip away from it if you aren’t conscious of it. When a baby first begins to walk it is a major feat for the child. He is concentrating hard on it. The same thing applies to alternate picking. Start slow; be aware of what you are doing. It will become much easier very quickly.

I recommend you practice alternate picking with simple scales such as the chromatic scale. If you do not know the chromatic scale I would suggest you check out my blog post called “Introduction to Guitar Scales – Chromatic Scale”.  The main idea is to focus on your right hand. Most guitarists do not spend nearly enough time practicing their right hand. Do this for a while and you will find it getting easier.

Just like when you walk, you put one foot in front of the other, alternate picking you switch between down strokes and up strokes. Concentrate on it like a baby does when they first walk. This technique really becomes second nature. Just spend a little time working on it, and watch it sink in and become muscle memory. Don’t be stuck in a rut of only picking downward. You have the capability of much more. Now go train for a marathon!

Transitioning from different open chords more smoothly

Music is supposed to be smooth and it is supposed to flow like water. A lot of times when you play open chords on guitar they don’t always sound the smoothest, so how can we add that smoothness to our playing? The concept is rather simple; we eliminate the movement we do. Well how do we do that? Let me explain.

Imagine in a perfect world that we could play all of the chords of a song without moving our fingers. Wouldn’t that be a very smooth song? The reality is that we cannot do that, but we can move as few of fingers as possible. Most chords have a common note of 2 in them. If we hold that common note down while we switch chords our music will flow much easier. So how do we do this?

Lets take the chord progression G | E min | C | D. If we hold down the notes D and G on our open chords the whole time we barely have to move our fingers at all to play these chords. It will sound wonderfully smooth. When we do this the chord it-self will change a bit, it will no longer be a D chord, but it will now be a D sus. Be aware of this, but don’t worry about it too much, because the D sus will still fit over a D chord.                 Here are the diagrams of the chords.

open chords G You will play this like the open G chord in the other blog post, but this time you will add the ring finger to the third fret B string.

open chords E minorYou will hold the 2 highest strings down while you change to the E minor. These notes will be held down the hold time.

open chords CThe C chord is just like the G chord, except on different strings. This is useful especially when switching from G to C. You can’t get much smoother than that.

open chords D

Practice switching between these open chord shapes slowly. You will see you quickly get comfortable with these and they will sound smooth and feel easy to play. You can apply this concept in many areas. The less you move the easier it is to play. Always be on the lookout for ways you can simplify what you are doing. If you can play something with les movement then you just saved yourself some trouble.

Take these chords and apply them to your music. There are many songs that can be played with these open chords. Have fun making music you enjoy. After all, that’s what music is all about. Strum and sing to your heart’s desire. Have fun!

An introduction to guitar chords – open chords

Back when I was in music theory one in college I was asked what a chord was, while they were being serious I replied with a sarcastic explanation “A group of notes that go boom”. However this is a great explanation of what a chord is. A chord is a group of specific notes that are played simultaneously. On the guitar there are many different ways to play guitar chords, but the simplest and typically the first that people learn are open chords.

Open chords on guitar are chords that are low on the guitar neck, typically 3rd fret and below. Open chords also contain open strings. If they do not contain open strings then they are not considered open chords. If you have played guitar before you probably have played an open chord already, because these are very common guitar chords.

In this lesson I am going to show you the most common open chords. Practice these slowly. Spend the time you need to learn them well. This is your basis for much more knowledge in the future. The good news is that if you work on these chords you will learn them relatively fast. Let’s dive into it, shall we?

open chords GThis is the Open G Chord. On the Low E string play the G note with your middle finger. On the A string play the B note with your first (index) finger. On the high E string play the G note with your ring finger. Strum all the strings.

open chords CThis is the Open C Chord. Do not strum the low E string. Place your ring finger on the third fret of the A string. Put your middle finger on the second fret on the D string. And your first (index) finger on the first fret B string.

open chords DThis is the open D chord. Do not strum the low E string and the A string. Place your first (index) finger on the second fret G string, ring finger third fret B string and middle finger second fret high E string.

open chords E This is the open E chord. There are 2 ways to play this and you should become comfortable with both. The first way to finger this is to place your middle finger second fret on the A string, ring finger second fret D string, and first (index) finger first fret G string. This is good to use in open position.  The second way to finger this chord is to place your ring finger second fret A string, pinky second fret D string and middle finger first fret G-string. Getting comfortable with this fingering will make barre chords easier. You can strum all the strings.

open chords E minorThis is the open E minor chord. finger this chord the same way as the E above except leave off the first fret on the G string.

open chords AThis is the open A chord. Just like the E chord there are 3 ways to finger this. The first approach which I never use, but a lot of books suggest is the classical approach. You place first (index) finger second fret D string, middle finger second fret G string and ring finger second fret B string. I find the second and third approach easier and they are both similar. You can barre your first (index) finger or ring finger across all 3 strings. the ring finger is best for barre chords in the future.

Experiment with the different fingerings for the different shapes. I suggest you become familiar with as many different options as possible. It pays off to be flexible on guitar. With these chords you can play millions of songs. A lot of acoustic guitar players rely on these chords primarily because of the open sound they have is full. If the songs are in a different key then they put on a capo. Find some of your favorite songs and start learning them and playing them with these chords to help you get them under your fingers. These chords are a foundation to a whole world of knowledge.

Open chords are a valuable thing to know. They are just a group of notes played simultaneously with open strings that are typically played low on the fret board. Spend the time to learn these shapes and learn to strum some of your favorite songs with these shapes. In the end you will be glad you did. All guitar players that are past the beginning stages of playing know these chords, they are so vital that it would be almost impossible to progress without knowing them.