In this edition of Secrets of Shred, I’d like to show you some new tapping riffs that I’ve been composing. Tapping melodies and chords at the same time has expanded my horizons as a songwriter and has been an exciting way to find new to space to live in on the guitar. I’m tuned down a half step for the whole lesson and have the delay set to a dotted 8th note. Let’s begin with our first example.
EXAMPLE 1 is in the key of F# minor and follows the progression of F#m-D-A-E. For this riff, the left hand plays the root and fifth of the chord while the right hand taps the melody above. I like to think of the right hand in this as surrounding the third of the chord with a note above and below. Halfway through, we jump up an octave and play the same melody to create a rising effect. Sometimes playing the same idea in a different register of the guitar leads you in new directions when writing riffs.
EXAMPLE 2 is the main theme of a song of mine, "Cloak of Light." It’s in the key of A major and has an A and B section. This riff is comprised of patterns that I use all the time for tapping through chord changes. With this riff, try to make the melody and tapped notes as connected and smooth as possible.
For our final example, let’s move to the key of Am. EXAMPLE 3 follows the chord progression of Am-F-C-G. This is another shape that I like to use a lot, but this time incorporating slides in the melody with the right hand. Like Example 1, we jump up an octave in the second half of the riff. The harmonic rhythm of this riff is faster than the previous examples, so I try to make the left hand movement as seamless as I can.
Hope you enjoy playing these riffs as much as I do and in some way they further you along on your musical journey. Here’s a quote from one of my heroes, John Coltrane. Cheers.
“I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I’d like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he’d be broke, I’d bring out a different song and immediately he’d receive all the money he needed.” - John Coltrane
Sammy Boller is a guitarist from Detroit, MI. His debut instrumental record will be released later this year. To contact Sammy or ask him a question, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @sammyboller