Scary Tapping Licks That Make No Musical Sense But Sound Extremely Cool

In thIs month’s Chop Shop we’re going to look at a couple of weird two-hand tapping ideas that don’t make a whole lot of musical sense from a scale or theory point of view but sound very cool, nevertheless.

The example in FIGURE 1 sounds like what you might expect to hear from a broken computer that needs to be fixed—or perhaps an alien radio.

It involves a lot of string skipping as well as tapping, and it’s a pretty brain-twisting lick. To be honest, it doesn’t sound very appealing when played slowly, but it’s worth mastering, as it does sound pretty cool when played fast. As you can see in the video below, I perform the tapping with the middle finger of my pick hand so that I don’t have to do any pick juggling.

If you look closely at FIGURE 1, you’ll notice the fingering and tapping pattern is symmetrical across the fretboard, meaning it’s the same on all four strings being used: you tap at the 18th fret, pull off to the 12th and then hammer on to the 16th. FIGURE 2 shows what the “broken-computer scale” looks like as a visual diagram across the strings and frets.

Eddie Van Halen and the late Dimebag Darrell have used symmetrical patterns like this to great effect in their lead work.

The lick in FIGURE 3 is taken from my solo on “The Nightmare Unravels,” from The Art of Malice. Although it's incredibly chromatic, it is, effectively, in the key of F# minor, as the third note in each repeated chromatic pattern is F# A B and D, respectively.

As you'll notice, I’m using the edge of my pick to bounce very quickly on and off the G string. With the exception of the big bend at the end, the entire lick is performed wholly on the G string. You can, however, use this idea on any string and in any “key,” as demonstrated in the online video footage for this month’s column.

Have fun with these weird-sounding ideas, and we’ll cover a few more next time.

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