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Andy James - 12 Bar Blues Tapping

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 10 **

Hello and welcome to this guitar lesson on tapping and string skipping over a 12 bar Blues pattern. In this tapping techniques lesson issue going to take a look at some pretty advanced tapping concepts where we'll need to master wide stretches, fast position shifting, left and right hand tapping and string skipping in the style of modern guitar shredders like Michael Romeo of Symphony X and Greg Howe.

This idea is arpeggio based, and when working on arpeggios it's not uncommon to practice them over a chord progression like Pachelbel's canon to give you some harmonic interest. In this example we're going to outline a minor Blues in Em (Em, Am, Bm). So before playing through this actual lick it might be worth familiarising yourself with the sound of these chords.

There are a lot of notes here and it would be easy to become confused over the shapes we're using, so take a look at the fretboard diagrams and get your head around each shape before you try to play the correct pattern.

We start with a right hand tap on the A string (14th fret) before rolling down and then up to the tap again. From here we have the toughest mechanic of this lick, the left hand tap. We need to play the 14th fret with a right hand tap, then strike the 7th fret of the G string with a left hand tap. This note needs to be clean and at the same volume as all of the other notes to keep the smooth legato sound going. It's also important to make sure that the right hand tap doesn't ring into the left hand tap, but you can't just lift it up or that open string will ring out. The idea is that as the left hand taps, the right hand releases pressure but without leaving the string (silencing the note) you can then lift up creating minimal string noise; as you can see from my video, I use a hair tie just to keep things extra clean, but you should never rely on this.

So this pattern begins by moving up the first shape then sliding up the G string to the second shape before sliding up (again on the 1st finger) to the 3rd shape. When we're here I move into a pattern I'm very fond of which involves playing the position 1 minor pentatonic in the left hand and adding taps 4 frets higher (on the 19th fret in this case). We move down this shape leading with the left hand and ending on the root.

It's really important that you practice this shape and learn it so you know the pattern cold because our next step is to play the exact same thing but now five frets higher to outline an Am sound. Care needs to be taken here though as we're right up the high end of the neck and have to tap on the 24th fret. If you're playing on a 22 fret guitar, try tapping on 22, 22, 21, 22 and then 22, this will give you notes contained in the Am pentatonic scale.

Now we need to outline a Bm, Am to Em so we take the basic pattern we started with (shape 1) and play a one bar idea (bar 5), this differs from the original pattern because we don't slide up into the next two shapes. Instead we play the same lick starting on the 14, 12 and finally the 7th fret.

To finish this little exercise off, we're actually going to outline a B7 sound. If you look at the diagrams you may recognise the last shape as coming from the three note per string mixolydian shape. We're playing the same pattern as we did in bar 2, but now just outlining a different sound. The mechanics are exactly the same as before, we still need to pay careful attention to the the left hand taps and the distance between our two hands.

These ideas are something you should experiment with and try to use to outline your own chord professions. There really is no substitute for taking these concepts and trying to implement them in your own compositions then try them out with your band, or just write a tune where you get to use them.


Until the next time, stay metal!

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