Watch Manuel Gardner Fernandes turn The Last of Us theme into an ambient two-hand tapping fretboard exercise

Manuel Gardner Fernandes
(Image credit: Manuel Gardner Fernandes/YouTube)

Earlier this month, HBO’s The Last of Us TV series – an adaptation of the popular game – debuted after much anticipation, and viewers tuning in to the first episode were welcomed into the show’s universe with a particularly haunting opening theme song.

Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla and performed via the fretboard of a nylon-string, The Last of Us theme song first featured in the 2013 game, though was no doubt introduced to a whole new listener base when the show first aired a few weeks ago.

For guitar fans especially, we imagine the episode had to be put on pause straight after the opening credits rolled in order to give viewers time to reach for their guitars and begin learning the ambient upper-register fretboard motif.

Manuel Gardner Fernandes, though, took things one step further. Not only did he celebrate the release of the show by covering The Last of Us theme song, he did so by transforming it into a two-hand tap-heavy, percussive fingerstyle-led fretboard exercise.

Swapping the nylon-string for his Ibanez AZ2204F, Fernandes straps into the neck’s Seymour Duncan Hyperion single-coil and dials in an uncompromising clean tone, immediately shaking up the track’s opening passage by executing the melody via some harmonic right-hand taps.

Naturally, Fernandes then decks out the track with a range of his trademark percussive fingerstyle techniques, including right-hand rakes and subtle hammer-on licks. 

Fernandes has been pretty active on YouTube recently, giving viewers a glimpse of his new gold-finished Ibanez eight-string and flexing his versatile chops via the fretboard of a six-string bass guitar.

The German virtuoso has also been getting familiar with Tim Henson’s recently released Ibanez TOD10N nylon-string signature guitar – we imagine Fernandes’ The Last of Us arrangement would’ve sounded stellar on that, too – which he’s used on a handful of videos.

In the first, Fernandes took the TOD10N on an otherworldly harmonic-heavy test drive, while the second saw him get experimental by equipping the nylon-string with FOMOfx’s Virtual Jeff Pro whammy bar.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.