3

I've been experimenting with two-handed tapping for a while now, and have recently picked up on tapping techniques which involve multiple fingers on both hands. My question is this - what are some good ways to mute unused strings without the use of a hair band or other string dampener? I have experimented with a few methods:

  • Exclusively trying to use my second, third and fourth fingers on my fretting hand and muting with my first finger - I have long fingers and have been playing for over 10 years so the stretching isn't an issue, but this feels clunky and doesn't work well around frets with loud natural harmonics where my first finger rests (or on lower frets with massive gaps between frets)
  • Low action on my guitar so as to not brush other strings by accident - makes playing unwanted frets by accident likely
  • High action on my guitar so I don't play any frets by accident - makes playing deliberate frets difficult
  • Playing with a slow metronome - this is helping but I don't know if I'm picking up bad habits or using bad technique so would like some direction before committing
  • High noise gate - turning off and on in the middle of a song just for some quick tapping is a bit difficult, especially considering my poor balance combined with having to concentrate

Some examples of the kind of stuff I am attempting is the end of the solo from Beat It by Michael Jackson or the following intro from Sequoia Throne by Protest the Hero:

        T  T     T  T     T     T     T     T     T
D#|----------------------17-------------------------|
A#|----17----15-17----15----15----15-17-------14-17-|
F#|-------16-------16----------16-------12-15-------|
C#|-14----------------------------------------------|
G#|-------------------------------------------------|
D#|-------------------------------------------------|

        T  T     T  T     T     T     T     T     T
D#|----------------------17-------------15-17-15----|
A#|----17----15-17----15----15----15-17----------17-|
F#|-------16-------16----------16-------------------|
C#|-14----------------------------------------------|
G#|-------------------------------------------------|
D#|-------------------------------------------------|

I've got a good grasp of tapping using one finger on my picking hand, and assuming I can use my first finger as an anchor with my fretting hand or the strings are next to each other I can just about work around two fingers with my picking hand. Any more complex than this (having a floating-fret-hand-first-finger or more than two fingers on my picking hand without the strings next to each other) and my technique turns to mush without the crutch of a hairband mute. Any technique advice would be greatly appreciated.

3

First off, I've never heard of or experienced any disadvantage to playing with a metronome set to a slow tempo. Definitely do that whenever you're learning anything if you want to develop the best technique and timing.

Regarding muting, you should be using both hands to mute. For the "fretting" hand, as you say, your first finger is one of your best mutes, along with the extra flesh of your other fingers. Generally my fretting hand muting while I'm tapping is identical to my fretting hand muting when I'm strumming. So if you have fretting hand muting down fairly well, then you should be able to use that.

For the "picking/strumming" hand, your palm and thumb should be rested on the lower strings to mute them while your "fretting" hand is muting the higher strings.

Making sure you land your taps cleanly on the fret and string you want and only that fret and string is also an important part of the technique.

When recording, wrapping something around the strings near the nut is not only perfectly acceptable, it's a good idea for any guitar recording that doesn't use any open notes. It's not a crutch or a cheat, it's a production technique. Obviously in a live situation it just looks awkward.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.