I developed these licks a long time ago, when I was under the influence of the great guitarist Paul Gilbert! At that time, I needed a way to create and produce some really scary virtuoso legato sounding phrases, and Gilbert was the closest thing to this prototype sound I had in my head.
This is just a “cheap and easy” way of emulating this kind of sound. Combining legato and tapping, makes you able to imitate some of Gilbert’s fastest legato licks, with only a small fraction of the ordinarily required effort!
Precisely because it involves some “cheating” though, it makes it really easy to produce a whole bunch of this sort of (or even scarier) ideas, which through time became a standard part of my guitar playing. I decided to have my students study them, and the results were AMAZING! There were quite a few times, that students’ tapping technique would literally skyrocket right after studying these ideas. So, let’s get down to it…
The first lick is based on the E natural minor scale and can be used over E minor pentatonic and E natural minor chord progressions. It has more notes to be tapped, and it’d be really helpful if you’d try right from the start to tap these notes with the three free fingers of your right hand.
Your index finger should be used to hold the pick at all times, and this is something you should be very cautious of. Being able to hold your pick while tapping is of the utmost importance because this is exactly what will enable you to fully integrate the tapping technique in your improvisation. If you are forced to leave your pick before and get it right after each lick, you’ll just sound really bad!
If you cannot use all your right hand fingers to tap these extra notes, it’s much better to try to tap them just with your middle finger and hold the pick. JUST DON’T LEAVE YOUR PICK DOWN AND TRY TO USE YOUR INDEX FINGER TO TAP. This will seriously slow you down and contain your progress in tapping!
In our second lick for today, we have an expanded version of the previous idea. This one is also based on the E natural minor scale and can be used over E minor pentatonic and E natural minor chord progressions. It might seem a bit confusing at first, but it really helps if you think of the first four notes of each 8-note sequence as quick “double-taps”. This feature actually adds extra weight to the tapped notes, but it changes the value of the notes being played from 16th note triplets to straight 16th notes, so be careful…
Both this licks can be tricky. Your efforts should focus on two things: (1) make the tapped notes have the same sound quality from the hammer-ons and pull-offs of each phrase. (2) Practice both licks VERY slowly to get the timing right! Always practice with a metronome, otherwise you run the high risk of being off-beat. And tapping actually lowers the level of your playing if you are off-beat!
Just because tapping allows easy rhythmic mistakes, it might be a very good idea to try to record yourself playing these licks. After you’ve done that, you should listen carefully for timing imperfections and inconsistencies of timbre.