In this Lesson I will show you some videos of slap guitar. You can see how guitar greats use this technique and you can imitate them. Most music is learned by repeating what others before you have done so here are some tutorial videos and performance videos that include slapping.
These 3 videos sum up the basics of slap guitar. Watch these videos and understand what is going on and get the sound into your head. It is a fun technique to play with and to practice. It also sounds very cool! Happy Slapping!
So we just talked about slapping guitar in a triplet feel. If you add 1 extra note you can get a 16th note feel going and this is where things get cool. A 16th note feel is going to be faster and sound more complex, but it’s really not that much harder to execute. In this lesson you will learn the basics of plucking strings, why you should pluck your strings and plucking patterns.
Plucking guitar strings is pretty self-explanatory. You take your index (first) finger, middle finger and ring finger and you pluck the string to get that harsh pluck sound. To make this technique easier for you while you are using your thumb to slap I suggest you keep your fingers curled under your hand a little bit. Keep them loose because a tense hand is hard to work with.
Plucking strings are an ornamentation to slap guitar. The note choices are not hugely important. You should pick notes that are part of the key, but the specific notes are not really a big deal. It is just to add flavor to your playing. I suggest when you first start plucking you worry about 1 note. The root would work well in the beginning. That way you won’t get bogged down thinking about notes you should pluck and you can concentrate on proper slapping technique.
I am going to show you a simple plucking pattern you can use that uses slapping and plucking. Before I had you doing the triplet slap pattern where you hit the open E on each beat and you slapped your left hand on the string then slapped a muted thumb on the strings again in a triplet feel. You will do this again except after the muted thumb slap you will add a pluck with your fingers. You will need to play this as 16th notes or else you won’t be able to get all the hits in and slap the next beat on time. Practice this slowly and work up speed gradually.
You have now learned all the basics of slap guitar. There are more things you can do to add more interest to your guitar slapping, but you now know what you need to know to slap guitar like a real slapper. You can add plucking to your slap guitar to add flavor to your playing. The notes you choose are not extremely important as long as they are in the key. Make sure you practice with proper technique and you will see great improvement over time.
Steve Vai’s tapping technique is quite fun, but can be difficult to execute. If you have not read the first article on Steve’s 2 handed tapping click here to review it. Steve Vai’s tapping style can be taken much more in-depth than just the top 3 strings. In this lesson I am going to show you how you can switch string like Steve Vai. You will still be using the shapes like we talked about in lesson 1. I will leave these shapes up to you to find. There are so many possibilities that you can come up with for the shapes. This article is going to concentrate on becoming more advanced with your right hand. You will learn switching to lower strings and higher strings.
Before we discussed how you tap with your ring finger on the high E string and the middle finger on the B and G string played in a downward motion. This is the same concept that will be used in switching strings except you will have to alter tap. You will either add 1 extra tap or subtract one. However, you will be focusing on the 3 string pattern. This 3 string pattern is what gives you the sound of Steve Vai.
When you want to go down a string and use the B, G and D strings you will need to add 1 extra tap with your middle finger. You tap the high E string with your ring finger, and then tap the B G and D with your middle finger. After you have successfully switched strings you continue with the same tapping pattern as before with the ring finger on the B string instead of the E. You can use that add note to go down as many strings as you want to the E string.
When your goal is to switch to higher strings you need to use 1 less tap with your right hand. Let’s say we are playing on the B, G and D strings and you want to go back to the high E string. You tap with your ring finger on the B string and then middle finger on the G string. Now you tap your ring finger on the high E string and you have successfully switched back to the 3 highest strings. You can use these string switching techniques to run scales as well. Or you can stick to creating interesting sounding shapes to get the sound you want.
Steve Vai’s tapping is an interesting approach to 2 handed tapping that if you want to switch strings you need to add 1 extra tap with the right hand or take away 1. Doing this technique has a very cool, unique sound. It can be difficult to perfect, but once you do, the sky is your limit. Have fun tapping away!
By now you know what it takes to create a nice slap sound. If you need to review the fundamentals of slapping the guitar please review lesson 1. Slap guitar can be taken much farther than just slapping 1 string. You can become more adventurous and add more technique and more interesting ideas to your slap guitar playing. In this lesson you will learn how you can start improving your technique by adding more to what you already know.
A Slapped Note Does Not Hang Around.
We just covered an exercise where you play quarter notes at 60 beats per minute with a metronome. In this exercise you were slapping the low E string. The next step to slap is to stop the note when you play it. So do this exercise again and each time you hit a note let it ring for a moment, but stop it with your left hand before you slap again. You can stop the sound by placing your fingers over the strings. This will make your slap sound cleaner and make it more focused.
Guitarists can be drummers too!
Slap guitar is very rhythmic. Slap would be boring if it was not. So to make your slap more rhythmic you can use your left hand to make a noise. Do this exercise: Slap the low E string on the beat at 60 beats per minute. On the & of each beat slap your left hand fingers down on the strings. The left hand is a rhythmic tool for your slapping. A very small percentage of slap guitar is actual played notes. These percussion sounds are what makes guitarists similar to drummers.
A Guitarist and a Drummer Had Triplets
A lot of slapping can be done with a triplet feel. Before you attempt doing this exercise make sure you have worked on the 8th note exercise above. This time you are going to play an 8th note triplet. You hit the low E string every beat. You will then make the left hand percussive sound and then you leave your left hand fingers down to mute while you slap your thumb again. The third hit is a muted thumb slap. No pitches should be played; it is just a percussive sound. Once you are comfortable with this you can start to speed up your slapping. Speed it up slowly to ensure proper technique.
Slapping guitar will sound more refined if you stop the note from ringing every once in a while. You can use this opportunity to be rhythmic by stopping the note with a rhythmic noise by slapping your left hand down. If you mute the strings with your left hand you can still use your right hand thumb to slap again and make a percussive sound without a note ringing out. A lot of slap guitar is done with a triplet feel so you can practice slapping with triplets. Enjoy!
Welcome! Have you ever come across a guitarist who was slapping his guitar? Typically this technique is done on bass, but it can be done on guitar as well. It is a fun technique to learn and can sound very cool. Slap is primarily used in the funk style and sounds best with a funk sound. After reading this lesson you should be able to know how to slap the guitar, and the challenges of slapping. This lesson will focus primarily on the thumb. Later on we will talk about adding finger plucking to your slap to make it even more fun!
Slap Guitar Is Like a Bounce House
Pretend you are in a bounce house for a minute. When you jump you go down, then bounce right back up. The same principle applied in slap. When you slap your guitar strings you should bounce back up. If you don’t bounce up it won’t work well. Another illustration of slapping the guitar is being on the moon. Have you ever seen movies on people on the moon? They float down and back up. This does not mean that you constantly have to be going back down to slap the string over and over, but when you slap the string you should bounce up quickly.
Slapping Is Not Hard, But The Part Of Your Thumb You Use Should Be.
Think about it. Slapping has a pretty bumpy harsh sound to it. Do you think you can get that sound better by dropping cotton on the strings or dropping a hard bouncy ball on the strings? Of course the bouncy ball is going to make the sound better. Same concept goes with your thumb. When you play slap guitar you should use the side of your thumb at the knuckle. This is the hardest part of your thumb. This will make that pop slap sound better.
Low Strings Make the Best Slappers
When you are using this guitar technique you will find that the 2 lowest strings make the best strings to slap on. Once you get higher than the A string you are better off using other fingers to pluck them. Typically the easiest string to slap on is the low E. It may take some practice to get the A string to sound good slapping, but it will get easier.
Practice Simple To Perfect Your Happy Slappy Technique
To start practicing this technique I suggest you put on a metronome at around 60 beats per minute and hit the low E string each beat. You can use our metronome at GitGuitar here. Concentrate on hitting the string with the correct part of the thumb. You should also concentrate on bouncing off the string. For an extra little note: You will find some areas of the guitar string are easier to slap on. So you may want to experiment to find the hot spot on your guitar. Once you can play quarter notes at 60 slapping with perfect technique you can move on to more advanced techniques using slap.
Slap guitar is a fun technique you can use to sound more funky. Typically this technique is a funky bass technique, but guitarists can use it also. To get the perfect sound in this technique you need to bounce your hand quickly off the strings. You should also use the hard part of your thumb. Practice quarter notes at 60 beats per minute and you will improve dramatically. Enjoy!
Every guitar player wants to fly all around the fret board hitting a bazillion notes. This is cool, but this will get very boring. Most of the amazing guitar solos you hear have fast lines in them, but they sound very fast because they are mixed in well with melodic ideas and concepts that bring in the listener. The whole idea behind creating an awesome guitar solo revolves around the listener. Always ask yourself: if I was listening to this would I like it? Listening to blazing lines all the time will get mundane.
One way you can create a phrase in your guitar solo that allows the listener to catch up with you is to hang on to 1 note for a moment. You may find that play a quarter note triplets using only the G note gives that sound that brings you back to earth. You can vary the rhythm in any way you find that you like. Playing quarter notes of 8th notes with 1 note might sound good to you. You can also vary the length you hold on to the note. Some people hold on to one note longer than others. Use your ear to find what really works well. Your ear won’t lead you wrong.
Another way that this idea can be applied is using a technique called pedal tones. In a pedal tone you have a tone that is repeated while other notes change. For example you play the note G, then you play D, then G, then A, then G. Sometimes pedal tones can be a repeated 2 notes. There is an unlimited amount of things you can do with pedal tones. This is a busier version of the first idea suggested. You have the repeated note; you just add more color to it by adding extra notes.
You don’t want to rely on just one of these techniques. Use them both. The more options you have available to you, the better you will sound in different situations. Each technique is equally valuable, and you may grow to like one more than the other. However, learning to use both will give you more options. Some styles may sound better with pedal tones and another may sound better with just 1 repeated note.
Playing a lot of notes and playing fast is fun, but the listener won’t grasp your story line if you never slow down and lay it out in simple terms. Adding repeated notes can help the listener grasp what you are saying and help them understand it more. Making music accessible is one factor that makes an average musician different from the great musician. You can repeat one note by itself or repeat notes within a phrase by playing pedal tones. Both will add interest and make it easy to grasp.
String bending is a technique on guitar that makes the pitch goes higher. Depending on how much you bend the string it can get up a half step, whole step or anything in between. This technique is a very useful and very common technique. It can give you options to play things that you couldn’t play without bending. There are some things you should know before you start string bending.
To bend on a string you push the string up or down. How do you know when to push up or down though? A general rule would be on the 3 highest strings push up and on the 3 lowest strings pull down. However you may find that you bend on the D string easier upward. The whole purpose of this is so you do not push the string off of the fret board.
Bending strings can be hard to do, so to make it easier you can use your other fingers to give you more strength. If you are bending up with your ring finger, you should put your middle and index fingers on the string behind your ring finger. This will make bending the string much easier than it was before. There are times when you cannot do this. For example if you are bending with your index finger you cannot use other fingers for more strength.
When you first start with bending it will seem hard. This technique will get much easier and more fun to use. You may need to work on it for a few days straight just to get the jest of how it works. It is almost impossible to improve without knowing this technique. So you will thank yourself for spending the time to master it. Make sure when you bend strings that you are putting enough pressure on the string so the note comes out. This may require a little strength in the hands, but you will gain this after some practice.
Bending strings is a very common and extremely useful technique that should be mastered. It will take time to learn it, but it can be fun to use. When you are bending strings you should push to 3 highest strings up and the 3 lowest strings down. If bending seems hard you can use any extra fingers to give you extra strength to bend more. The only time you can’t use other fingers to help you bend is the first (index) finger. Practice this technique for a while and get the hang of it. Happy Bending!
You have probably come across this term before in your musical career. It is a popular technique because many rock musicians tend to use this technique. This technique can be used in any style of music; however sweep picking is emphasized more in rock guitar than any other style. In this article you will discover what sweep picking is and what it is not, and you will learn how you can start doing it for yourself.
Sweep picking is a technique that was created to play arpeggios with the most speed and least amount of work on the picking hand. This is accomplished by playing 1 note per string arpeggios and picking in the same direction. Say you are playing an ascending arpeggio, you will pick downward on the low E string, downward on the A string, downward on the D string etc.
Be careful not to strum your guitar. You are not strumming, you are picking the guitar. Sometimes when you see someone doing it fast it may look as if they are strumming, but they are not. Practice just the right hand picking for now, but after you pick each string rest the pick on the string next to it. You will continue to rest the pick on the string lower than the one you just plucked, but you will gradually gain speed.
The best way to start sweeping is to start simple with 3 strings. Learn to sweep these ascending and descending in pitch. Work on ascending and descending separately until you are comfortable. Before long you will find that these are easy and you will then want to combine ascending and descending. Start slow and push yourself faster slowly because the slower you play the more likely you will create good habits. If you play fast and sloppy you will continue to play fast and sloppy. Here are some shapes you should practice sweeping.
The numbers are labeled to show which note should be played first. The colors indicate the different shapes. You will need to hammer on to number 4 and pull off from number 4 while you are sweep picking these.
Notice these shapes are all triads with an extra note hammered on. You can practice sweeping with any triad you want on any set of strings, but for now I suggest you start on the highest strings. These shapes are the foundation for progressing in sweep picking. Spend the time to learn these well and you will thank yourself for it later. Sweep picking is designed to get the most speed with the least amount of work. To start learning sweet picking it is best to start slow with 3 notes per string ascending then descending and finally combining the two. Once you are comfortable with these you can move on to adding extra strings and creating more interesting ideas.
Steve vai has a unique style of guitar tapping. In this lesson you will learn an approach that Steve Vai uses to do 2 handed tapping. This is an advanced 2 handed tapping lesson, if you have not yet mastered the basics of 2 handed tapping, check out the link here. In this lesson you are going to learn the approach Steve Vai uses. Doing this you will learn how to use 2 fingers on your right hand to tap. You will also learn some of what he does with his left hand. Of course, this will not cover everything that Steve vai does when he taps, but this will provide you with a foundation of what he does. Let’s jump in to it.
Steve Vai uses 2 notes per string shapes with his left hand. He makes a box with his left and taps using this shape. There are many possibilities of box shapes that you could play. Steve Vai doesn’t stick to one of these shapes for a long time. You can hear that when he taps he isn’t repeating an idea. He is constantly moving through these shapes. If you want to learn to tap more like Steve Vai learn as many shapes as you can come up with. Learn them well though; you will progress faster if you learn a few things well rather than a bunch of things poorly. Here are a few example shapes he uses with his left hand.
There are 3 left hand boxes here. The blue box, the red box and the box with the “/”. Make your own shapes similar to these to use with this 2 handed tapping technique.
With his right hand Steve Vai uses 1 note per string shapes. Of course these shapes are constantly changing in Steve Vai’s playing as well. So come up with your own shapes for your right hand as well. Here are some example shapes Steve Vai uses for his right hand.
These are shapes you can use with the right hand to tap while 2 handed tapping. The purple note belongs to both shapes.
The hard part about the right hand is getting the correct tapping. This will be challenging with just 1 finger, so Steve uses 2 fingers. He uses the middle finger and the Ring finger. To be able to play like this you must pull your fingers downward. Use your ring finger on the high E string, and on the B string and G string use your middle finger. Switching string with this technique will be covered in a future blog post.
When you play these shapes you need to play them in the correct order. Tap first on the right hand, pull off to the note highest on the string, pull off and to the lower note on the string. You will be playing these shapes as if they are descending scales. You play the E string first, then B string, then G string in that order.
2 handed tapping like Steve Vai is a fun thing to do, but it can be tricky. He uses 2 fingers on his right hand and he uses shapes on his left hand. These shapes used by both hands are always changing; this is what gives his tapping that constantly flowing sound. Work on this slowly and get it clean and smooth. You will soon be sounding like Steve Vai. To continue to part 2 of this article click here. Discuss below!
For an example of the tapping technique taught above view this video below. Start the video at 6:00 and end it at 6:54.
Every guitar player wants to play faster and cleaner. One problem people seem to have with picking is skipping strings. With a little work this wouldn’t be much of a problem. Here you will learn an exercise you can do to help your alternate picking so that you can alternate pick easier while jumping strings. If you do this exercise for a warm up or just spend a couple of minutes a day on it you will find that your picking will improve. So how do we do this exercise?
Pick a scale, it can be any scale. You could do this with a new scale you are learning or something you already know. Let’s say you choose to chromatic scale. Start it on the 5 fret of the low E string and play it one octave to the 7th fret of the D string, now play it backwards. The next step to this is to play the high E string between every note. This way you will be playing the low E string jumping to the high E string and the high E string jumping to the A string. This is the first thing to practice with this exercise. In essence you are picking low, high, low, high. There is a warning to the players who may be a little more advanced. Do not use hybrid picking doing this. This is an alternate picking exercise. Once you feel comfortable with this exercise there are some things you can do to raise the difficulty.
The first thing you can do to add difficulty and challenge to the exercise is to add the B string. Say you are picking a note on the low E string, you would pick like this: low E string, high E string, B string, high E string, low E string. The Second thing you can do is the same as the adding the B string except you skip to the G string and back to the high E string. A Third thing you can do is double pick the low note you are playing. After a while doing this exercise you will probably be able to come up with challenging exercises that you can work on using the same basic principle.
Remember, this is an alternate picking exercise. Don’t use hybrid picking (fingers). Force yourself to strictly alternate down up down up with your pick. If you do not, this exercise is useless. This exercise may seem very hard if you’re new to alternate picking. Practice does make perfect, so spend some time working on it every day and you will get the hang of it.
This exercise is great if you want to be able to skip strings easier with alternate picking. Just like in alternate picking you go down up down up, in this exercise you go low high. This makes a good warm-up, and you will see improvement if you do it every day. This is strictly an alternate picking exercise, so don’t mix other picking styles in. That would defeat the purpose.