** As featured in issue 8 **
Welcome back to my third acoustic guitar lesson column! Here we’ll be looking closely at some percussive acoustic guitar playing on the body of the guitar, while the left hand is keeping two notes going the whole time. We get the illusion that there are two instruments being played. This is the beauty of the acoustic guitar - that it has this potential to incorporate drum sounds with melodic/rhythmic phrasing.
I always enjoy playing these types of things, especially in a live setting as people often wonder if it’s all one instrument. or if I have a backing track playing. In any case, let’s get you started with some of these groovy examples! The first example is holding an Em chord and pulling it off then hammering it back on. This is done throughout all of the examples in the video. The tricky part is that it is in 6/8 time so the accents lie on the 1st and 4th beat. We’ll be using our palm on the right hand to accent those beats on the lower bout of the guitar. We can then add a “snare” hit by using the right hand fingers to strike the side of the guitar to get a nice attack sound that emulates a snare hit on a drum kit.
Once we have this comfortably down we can do many different things to spice-up our playing. Instead of using our right hand palm to accent beats 1 and 4, we can now use our right hand middle finger to do a harmonic slap on the 12th and 19th fret. The trick with these is to make sure you’re directly hitting the fret, not behind it. I usually accent these harmonic slaps by hitting my right hand palm on the body of the guitar at the same time above the strings. If you angle your wrist diagonally you can achieve this with finesse. Lastly in example four, we have a combination of both percussive hits and harmonic slaps combined to get a rich and dynamic sound. As you can see having left/ right hand independence is key to trying to get them to sound like different instruments. It’s a really good idea to try to learn some basic drum beats to incorporate them into your playing. It will also help you understand the importance of dynamics and accents inside each bar. Have fun with this one and remember to always experiment on your own!