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Sam Bell - Extended Range Guitar Part 3 - Tapping Arpeggios

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 21 **

Hi Sam Bell here, welcome to the third instalment in my extended range guitar metal guitar lesson series. I hope over the last two tutorials so far you have acquired new knowledge of the 8-string guitar and its potential in music creation. In this issue’s lesson we are going to look at some tapping arpeggios from the chorus of my song Gravity which should give us some inspiration for creating our own tapped arpeggio lines. Before we start I would highly recommend having the tab for this issues example at hand as there is a lot to explain and break down. Let’s do this!

Arpeggio Shapes and Sequences:
In this example I base my tapped arpeggio lines around a visualization method I like to call 2 and 1 tapping, meaning that we have two notes played with the fretting hand and one note tapped on each string with the picking hand. Another thing in common with the shapes used here is that they utilize string skipping. These shapes are very useful and as you will see through studying this example, they are easily modified to imply different arpeggio extensions and sequences. So once you have learnt the shapes and sequences found here try and come up with some of your own variations, extensions, sequences and progressions. Get creative!

Outlining the chord progression with tapped arpeggios: 
The chorus section to this song features a simple chord progression moving between D major 7th (D, F#, A, C#),  F#m7 (F#, A, C#, E)  and A major 7th (A, C#, E, G#). The first two chords I use the 2 and 1 method to tap the arpeggios on the low F#, E and D strings. If you don’t have an 8 string or a 7 string, these shapes translate perfectly to 6 string guitar. The third chord uses a quick sequence that utilizes the low B, A, G and E strings, on the second time around of the chorus this sequence ascends like the first time around and descends the same sequence a semi tone higher. Let’s take a detailed look at how approach each chord.

D major 7 and F#m7 (first and second time)

In the first two chords in the progression, each chord follows the same tapping sequence. We ascend each arpeggio up two octaves and back down four times, the tricky part to playing these arpeggios is keeping string noise down to a minimum whilst skipping strings, I would suggest keeping the fretting hand flatter in order to keep the higher strings from ringing out, also keep an eye on your tapping hands placement, you don’t want to be to vigorous with the muting as this creates its own sound interference, instead keep the picking hand palm flat, hovering just above the low strings whilst tapping. The second tricky element of these arpeggios is the initial visualization of the shapes, I would suggest learning the D major 7 arpeggio at first and getting familiar with what notes each hand is in charge of and then practice isolating each hand, by this I mean practice playing the left hand portion of the arpeggio with only hammer ons and then introduce the right hand taps later when the left hand portion feels comfortable.

When executing these arpeggios I find it helps to look at the point where the last left hand note follows onto the tapped note, this way you are looking at the middle meeting point in the shape and makes visualization of the arpeggio a little easier. Keep in mind all of this will feel a lot more natural once you have practiced the shapes slowly, with as little tension as possible, and your muscle memory has kicked in.

When we move onto the F#m7 arpeggio, hopefully you will notice that the pattern and sequence are the same however the notes are altered to fit the chord that I wanted to imply. The left hand portion of these particular shapes on the F# string covers the Root and 3rd, in this case we have flattened the 3rd in order to make the arpeggio a Minor tonality, and we have also flattened the 7th which occurs on the E and D strings of this particular sequence, this gives us a Minor 7th tonality. Once you have these shapes under your fingers, you can move notes around in the fretting or the tapping hand in order to get lots of different extension tones in your arpeggios. Next up we are going to look at the next part of the gravity chorus, and how we can get some scary sounding keyboard like sequences with these 2 and 1 tapping arpeggio shapes.

A major 7th and beyond!
The final part of the first half of the chorus I ascend and descend a 3 octave A major 7th arpeggio, shape wise the arpeggio starts of on the low B string 10th fret, follows through the root, 3rd and 5th before skipping up to the A string 11th fret, rolling from the major 7th, root and 3rd with a shift up on the same string to highlight the root, 3rd and 5th, we then skip to the G string and play the 7th, root and 3rd again, before skipping up to the high E string where we play the 5th, 7th and root once again. If you own a 7 or 8-string guitar, this method of building 3 octave arpeggios is really useful, in the essence of this song I am using it as a background riff effect, rather than a soloing device, however there is nothing to stop you trying it in any context you like, my personal favorite is doing this with a clean sound and a bit of reverb. On the second time around of the progression, you will notice that we ascend the A major 7th arpeggio but descend the exact same shape and sequence only a semi tone higher to imply a Bb Major 7th arpeggio. I really like the effect of this harmonic movement in the song as it pulls the chorus into the next section; also it gives a small sense of drama and speeding up.

A major 7th Sequence.

I would highly recommend looking referring to the tab throughout all this issue’s example, however this would be a really good moment to have the transcription at hand. Hopefully we have a sense of what the patterns look like so far, now I would like to take a look at the sequence that I utilise in the A major 7th tapping run. On the low B string we roll up and down the notes to create a pattern of 3 notes before moving up to the 11th fret A string where we roll up and down a pattern of 5 notes, and then slide up on the same string to the 12th fret starting a pattern of 7. Then we string skip to the G string where we have another rolling pattern of 7 notes followed by a turn around on the high E string bringing us string skipping back down the pattern to the A string, then up the arpeggio to the G string finally cascading down the entire pattern to the low B string.

In closing

So there we have it, the string skipping tapping arpeggios for the chorus of my tune Gravity. I highly recommend checking out the rest of the song as I use a lot more similar techniques in order to get gravity defying arpeggios and sequences (sorry for the pun!). Be sure to experiment with your own variations on these ideas, try the 2 and 1 approach with diatonic scales and pentatonic scales, and experiment with different sequences. You can add and take away as much as you want from this approach, one of my favorites is to add one more note to each hand so we get 3 and 2, you can create some really bubbly sounding lines that are reminiscent of the amazing sequences that players such as Derek Taylor, Scott Mishoe and Ron Thal use in their playing.

Have fun with these sequences, and I shall see you next issue for some more extended range exploration.

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