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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, 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!

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.