A few tapping ideas that I’ve been using lately and hopefully get a few of you to develop calluses on “the other hand.”
• Understand the fundamentals of 8-finger tapping.
• Create smooth, legato lines that combine open strings with linear phrases.
• Develop a more precise hammer- on and pull-off technique.
Hey there! Right now you are either saying, “Who the heck is this guy?” or “Hey, I know that dude!” If it’s the first, here’s the story: I might be one of the busiest guitar players you’ve never heard of. I have a double major in working my butt off and remaining relatively unknown. I play with the band Night Ranger, the hit Broadway show Rock of Ages, and also tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
When I was a kid growing up in the ’80s, I was lucky enough to have a great guitar teacher named TJ Helmerich who got me going with the 8-finger tapping technique. After missing the first wave of commercial relevance for this technique in the rock world (see “shred era”) and entering a seemingly endless period where nobody thought lead guitar was even remotely cool, I now find myself with three really great gigs where this technique is not only used, but has proven to be a major asset for me—an ace up my sleeve if you will.
Here I’ll share a few tapping ideas that I’ve been using lately and hopefully get a few of you to develop calluses on “the other hand.”
To start, we are just going to work on Fig. 1, which is a simple chromatic exercise that will strengthen all of your fingers. It’s really important to start very slow to make sure all of the notes come out nice and clear. This can be done on any eight frets and any string of course, but to keep things easy, we’ll just go with the 5th fret through the 12th fret on the second string.
Fret the index finger of your left hand down on the 5th fret and then use some simple hammer-ons moving up to the 8th fret. Now the real fun starts! Use your right-hand index finger on the 9th fret, and while keeping your index finger down (all four left-hand fingers should still be down), fret your middle finger on the 10th fret, ring finger on 11th fret and pinky on the 12th. The next part is where most people run into trouble with this technique: pull-offs. Work your way back down by lifting your pinky up and across the string. You’ll notice the pull-off will sound much better by lifting the pinky up instead of down. Pushing down is the equivalent of pushing up for a pull-off with your left hand—not good. Now that you have the important info, let’s keep going. Lift the ring off to the middle, middle to index, and then index off to those left-hand fingers that are still waiting. Now simply repeat the process and move it around. It’s an easy concept, but a great way to get all your fingers going.
For those unfamiliar with Rock of Ages, it’s a Broadway show based on all the hit rock songs from the ’80s. It begins with me playing something similar to the Steve Vai intro solo to the David Lee Roth song “Just Like Paradise.” During this part I’m at the front of the stage with a fan blowing my hair. The director liked the moment so much upon first viewing that she said, “Can we add to that and go two more times around?” I had about two seconds to think of something before she changed her mind, but immediately I thought of tapping as a perfect signature technique of the ’80s and came up with Fig. 2.
Basically these are simple triad arpeggios that outline the G–D–A progression.
Night Ranger has a built-in need for this technique, thanks to Jeff Watson’s groundbreaking signature solo on the song “(You Can Still) Rock in America.” My ability to duplicate Jeff ’s work in the band these days alongside the amazing Brad Gillis has been very important. Most fans are there for those classic songs and solos and I do my best to give them what they want. Recently, I recorded my first album with Night Ranger, Somewhere in California. So, in an effort to continue that element of the band’s sound, I squeezed in a few 8-finger moments of my own. Fig. 3 is an example of what I came up with on the song “Say it with Love.”
Another advantage of this technique is the ability to grab wide interval jumps with ease. Fig. 4 is from the song “Lay It on Me” on the latest Night Ranger album. It’s a great illustration of how tapping simple octaves can give your lines a more angular sound.
I hope this inspired some of you to try something new, or maybe it’s revisiting something old for some of the vets out there. Now get working on those calluses!
Joel Hoekstra is a New York City-based guitarist that plays for Night Ranger, the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages, and the Trans- Siberian Orchestra. Hoekstra can be heard on Night Ranger’s latest album, Somewhere in California, Jack Blades’ Rock N’ Roll Ride, and Jeff Scott Soto’s Damage Control. His solo effort, 13 Acoustic Songs, is available at his website joelhoekstra.com.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
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DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
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For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
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- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
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A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!