Tech Tip:Playing the Guitar Q & A


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The following tips for aspiring guitarists are courtesy of John McCarthy of The Rock House Method, publisher of video lessons for musicians at every skill level. rockhousemethod.com

 

 

 

Bi-dextral Hammer Ons = Two Hand Tapping

 

Q: Can you please tell me how to play bi-dextral hammer ons? I am very interested in this technique and the sound that it creates.

 

A: This technique is also often called a less technical name "two hand tapping". Eddie Van Halen made this technique famous for guitar with his solo on "Eruption" from the album Van Halen 1 .

 

This technique is done by playing a series of hammer ons with both hands tapping on the guitar neck. I’ll give you a specific example so you can get started with this quickly.

1. Hold your first finger down on the fifth fret of the second string.
2. With your right and index finger, hammer down the note on the 12th fret of the same second string. This will sound your first note.
3. Next, snap or pull off your right hand index finger from the note on the twelfth fret and this will sound the note that you were holding down on the fifth fret with your left hand.
4. Now hammer down your left hand fourth finger on the eighth fret of the second string.
5. Keep repeating this three-note pattern 12-5-8 over and over building up speed gradually; remember that your right hand taps on the twelfth fret and your left hand covers the fifth and eighth fret notes.
6. *Quick Tip* Make sure that you hold down your fourth finger at the end of the sequence until your right-hand tap on the twelfth.
Experiment with many different variations of this technique using different frets, strings, and patterns and you will find many great sounds.

 

 

Muting a Note Within a Chord

Mike Federman; Louisville, KY

 

Q: Sometimes you see a little "x" at the top of a chord diagram. I know it means that string should not be sounded. But when that string is surrounded by other strings which WILL be sounded, how do you keep from sounding the "x" string?

 

A: This is a very tricky technique. Here is how it is done:

 

You have to arch the finger above the note to be muted and just touch the back of your finger on the string. Make sure just to touch the string and not to push the finger down so that the note is sounded. Another way to mute the sound is to use the tip of one of the fingers fretting a note below the muted note. This will achieve the same result.

 

Every chord has a bit different situation so you must adjust to the specific chord.

 

 

 

Tuning a 12 String Guitar

Greg Sherman; Cincinnati, OH

 

Q: I just got a 12 string guitar as a present and need help tuning it. I am getting so confused that I want to return it. Please help me.

 

A: I know how you are feeling. When I got my first 12 string guitar I almost threw it out my window. I could not figure out how to tune it, but, eventually I got the method and hopefully it will make your life much easier.

 

Here it is: I know a lot of people like to number the strings of a twelve-string guitar from one (high E) to twelve, but I find it much easier to number them as a six-string guitar, that is one through six, adding the designation "a" or "b" to each string as well. "a" means closer to the floor (as viewed when I am sitting with the guitar) and "b" is closer to the ceiling. The main reason I do this will, hopefully, be readily apparent when I tell you that all the "a" strings are tuned just like those of a regular guitar in standard tuning. So if you ignore the "b" strings for the moment, you'll see that the two guitars compare like this:

 

12 String6 String Equivalent
1a
E
1
E
1b
2a
B
2
B
2b
3a
G
3
G
3b
4a
D
4
D
4b
5a
A
5
A
5b
6a
E
6
E
6b

The first two sets of strings, the high E (1a and 1b) and the B strings (2a and 2b), are unison pairs. When struck, they sound the same note and this is the same note as on the first and second string of a normal guitar. So let's add them to our chart:

 

12 String6 String Equivalent
1a
E
1
E
1b
E
1
E
2a
B
2
B
2b
B
2
B
3a
G
3
G
3b
4a
D
4
D
4b
5a
A
5
A
5b
6a
E
6
E
6b

And now the fun begins. The next four pairs of strings are tuned in octaves. This means that, although they are the same note in name - like the "do's" in "do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do" - they will be two different notes. String "3a", we already know is the same as the G string on regular guitar. String "3b" is tuned to the G note so that it’s an octave higher. The simplest way to think about it, if you're a linear person, is to think that it's the note at the twelfth fret of the G string. But it's just as easy to find these notes in first position. The G, an octave higher than the open third string, is at the third fret of the first string. Let's go on and find the rest of the notes:

 

12 String6 String Equivalent
1a
E
1
E
1b
E
1
E
2a
B
2
B
2b
B
2
B
3a
G
3
G
3b
G (octave higher)
same as third fret on 1st string
4a
D
4
D
4b
D (octave higher)
same as the third fret on the 2nd string
5a
A
5
A
5b
A (octave higher)
same as the second fret of the 3rd string
6a
E
6
E
6b
E (octave higher)
same as the second fret of the 4th string

These six "b" strings give the twelve-string guitar its fullness of sound. Whenever you play a string, you are playing an additional note.