** As featured in issue 22 **
Sam Bell here, welcome to the fourth instalment of my extended range metal guitar lesson series. In the last lesson we looked at tapping arpeggios using two notes in the left hand, and one note tapped in the right hand. In this lesson we are going to take that guitar technique a little further with an example from my song Gravity.
The riff is based around a descending bass line: F#, F, E, and D#. When I wrote this riff I originally had the main accents of the rhythm however I wanted to spice it up a little. I was very inspired by some early Daft Punk I was listening to. One of the key features in their music is the use of interweaving parts, and the clever use of space for each part to stand out on its own. I wanted to re-create this idea using the descending bass line, and a melody line that flows over the top descending back down to the bass line on the original accents that I had written. I also wanted to be able to play this on one guitar, and one of the things I love most about the 8-string guitar is the option of being able to have lots of low range with lots of high range within one position on the guitar neck. In this riff I utilise the use of the 8-strings range, and the tapping techniques we looked at last issue in order to create one riff that gives the listener the illusion of listening to two very different guitar parts.
Before I break down each section of the riff, I will explain some of the theory behind the notes used in the riff. The tapping parts use an F# Blues scale with an added 9 giving us 7 notes: F#, G#, A, B, C, C#, and E. I am visualising most of the left hand portions of the tapping runs using 3 note per string pentatonic with the middle note omitted to create a wider interval spacing. For example, the first tapping run starts with F# (root) hammer-on to B (5th) on the B string with the left hand, so we missed out the A (b3) in this particular segment of the lick. Hopefully all of this becomes clear once we start breaking down the riff section by section, I encourage you to study the tab whilst going through this description and watching the accompanying video.
We start on the low B string with the left hand playing 7 hammer-on to 12 with a tap on the 14th fret. We then skip over to the A string and play the same frets with the same technique however this time we roll back down the string to the 7th fret before picking the 12th fret on the low F# string. This marks the first accent in our descending bass line riff. I like to hammer-on from nowhere when skipping strings and playing these wide interval licks, so spend time making sure these hammer-on from nowhere notes are clear and watch out for any excess string noise by keeping the left hand relaxed and the index finger flat across the higher strings.
This next section follows directly on from the last section. We are going to use the same tapping idea from the first section however we are going to lengthen the phrase by taking it up an octave. So we play the same tapping phrase on the low B and A string as we did in section one, however once finishing the phrase on the A string 7th fret we slide up with the left hand index finger to the 9th fret and play the same notes an octave higher. However I make a slight variation in this octaves tapping, I slide up and back down between the 16th and 17th fret on the G before descending with the left hand on the same string. We then descend back to the A string with the left hand little finger hammering-on from nowhere on the 14th fret pulling-off to the 9th fret then we have our next descending bass line accent on the 11th fret low F# string. As I mentioned near the start of this installment, please refer to the downloadable tab that is available in this column.
The third section of this riff features the longest tapping phrase between the bass line accents. We ascend the second of the two octaves that we ascended in section two however once we get to the G string we will skip again onto the high E string. With the left hand we hammer-on between the 9th and 14th fret with a tapping hand slide up and down between frets 16 and 17 before rolling back down on the E string, skipping back down onto the G string and further onto the A string before ascending back up to the G string portion with a quick tap slide back and forth between the 16th and 17th frets descending back down on the G string and A string, this time the rhythm feel changes from 16th notes to 16th note triplets. We then come to our next descending bass line accent on the 10th fret F#. We repeat this accent note again after ascending the same pattern as we did in section one, however an octave higher. Followed by a two octave descending pattern staring on the A string 9 hammer on to 14 with a tap on 16, skipping over to the G 9 hammer onto 14 with a tap slide between 16 and 17 and back down again on the G. We then play this lick an octave lower starting on the 7th fret low B string following the same notes and sequence. This leads us to our last note in the descending bass line D# which is found on the 9th fret low F#
Following on from the 9th fret F# we have a repeat of our first phrase from section one starting on the 9th fret low B string however this time we re-accent to the 9th fret on the F# string before ascending up our final tapping lick which utilises the same octave patterns from the last part of the third section which starts on the 7th fret low B string hammer onto 12 with a tap on 14, skipping over to the A string with a hammer-on between the 17th and 12th frets with a tap slide between 14 and 15 followed by a roll back down on the A before sliding up to playing the same phrase an octave higher except this time we completely descend from the tapping on the G string with a hammer-on from nowhere on the A string 14th fret pulling off to the 9th fret A string. This marks the end of this riff, however in my song Gravity this riff is repeated twice before going into another variation.
So there we have it, a Daft Punk inspired 8-string, tapping, metal riff! It is certainly a lot simpler to play than it is to explain, so I hope with a combination of this description, the tab and the video you will be able to get the riff under your fingers in no time at all. Remember to take each section really slow, there are a lot of stretches in this lick, especially if you are playing a 27 inch scale length Ibanez 8 string, so take it easy, be sure to warm up slowly before attempting any stretches that you initially feel uncomfortable with. If you want to see a full play through of the song this riff came from then please be sure to check out LickLibrary’s YouTube channel and look out for ‘Sam Bell Gravity Performance’. The song will be featured on the future Mask of Judas album next year with full vocals and production.
Good luck with the riff, and as always be sure to try and come up with your own variations and ideas using the basic concepts of this riff underlined. I think it’s very healthy and important to look into different styles of music for inspiration when coming up with your own music, you never know what you might be missing out on otherwise. I shall see you next issue for more extended range guitar concepts! Sam Bell