Vintage Two-Hand Tapping by Roy Smeck, "the Wizard of the Strings" — Video

We all know by now that Eddie Van Halen didn't invent tapping.

As we've seen on GuitarWorld.com, Vittorio Camardese tapped the hell out of a song in 1965—and it's incredibly safe to assume he wasn't the inventor of the technique.

Still, it's always nice to be reminded of how old tapping is.

Take this video featuring Roy Smeck, who was known as "the Wizard of the Strings" in his day. Smeck was shredding on ukuleles and other instruments in the Twenties and Thirties, as seen in this clip. He even played at Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration in 1933.

The song in the video below is "Rubenstein's Melody in F," and while we can't exactly pinpoint the film this performance is taken from, we know it is available on a DVD called Smeck Shorts, which is available from Elderly Instruments.

Smeck, who was born in 1900 and died in 1994, played banjo, guitar, steel guitar and ukulele. For more about the Wizard of the Strings, head here.

P.S.: The bulk of the tapping in question starts at the 1:26 point in the video. Enjoy!

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.