You are on page 1of 3

Professor Shred with Guthrie

Govan: Tapping in 16th-Note

In this months column, Id like to show you the complex fretboard-
tapping section from a song of mine called Bad Asteroid. Its from
my self-titled album with the Aristocrats, which includes bassist
Brian Bellar and drummer Marco Minneman.
Bad Asteroid is a song thats been bubbling away in my collection
of unused tunes for about 18 or 19 years, and this new album gave
me a good excuse to finally record it properly.
Its good material for this column because, in addition to requiring
wacky and unusual tapping procedures, it features some nice
harmonic interest in the chord progression over which the riff is
playedwhat I like to describe as the budget Steely Dan chords.
Without them, the riff just sounds weird. The chords are essential
in providing a context to the tapped melodic idea. FIGURE
1 illustrates the chord progression over which I play the tapped riff,
which is essentially four bars long and followed by a fifth bar that
resolves to Em9sus4. I begin in bar 1 with C/Bb, followed by A/B.
Bar 2 consists of C9 to Fmaj7.
Bar 3 sits on a chord that could be named a variety of things, but
lets call it Eadd2/G#, which is followed by a bar of Bbmaj7#11
that Lydian mode soundand the resolution to Em9sus4.
All of the chords, with the exception of the last, are performed
fingerstyle, wherein I either pluck all the strings at once or subtly
pick out individual notes of the chords, such as moving from the
bass note to the higher strings, or vice versa. I also like to apply a
little whammy-bar vibrato whenever a chord sustains.
Equally important is the feel, which is a slow-ish swing. As a result,
what are written as 16th-note rhythmic subdivisions are played as
eighth-note/16th-note triplets. Now lets look at the tapped figure,
illustrated in FIGURE 2.
Throughout this pattern, I alternate between fret-hand and pick-
hand tapped notes. Except for a couple of spots, I constantly
switch from one hand to the other. For tapping, I generally use the
middle finger and pinkie of my pick hand; in this section, I hold the
pick in the crook of my pick-hand index finger, so that finger is
unavailable for tapping.
The rhythm is also essential to this riff. Im superimposing an
eighth-note triplet rhythm on each beat, then splitting each eighth
note into two 16ths. This is the best way to look at the lick,
because it progresses in two-note pairs, and representing it this
way makes it easier to conceptualize.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the two hands sort of mirror
each other in their intervallic movement throughout. Slow practice
will be mandatory to get a firm handle on this one. Although I wrote
it, even I cant play it unless I start from the beginning each time.
This will be the last installment of my GW column for now, so
thanks very much for reading. Check out the new Aristocrats
album, and get more information about the group at the- See you on the road.