ACOUSTIC GUITAR 015: Percussive Guitar Technique

Acoustic Guitar 015: 

Percussive Guitar Technique...

The use of percussive hits played by tapping upon the sound-board of an acoustic guitar will generate interesting rhythmic effects that can add a great deal of dynamic rhythmic expression to any acoustic guitar fingerstyle or strumming piece. 

For this acoustic lesson, I've composed several practice pieces that cover percussive "hits and body taps" used by acoustic players. Four exercises break down everything from the general development of the 'hits and taps' to more advanced concepts like blending them with "ghost notes and single-note lines."

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NOTE: Learning to do this technique is not particularly difficult, but it will require a certain level of co-ordination to accomplish...

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Example one, focuses on how a guitarist can begin incorporating "acoustic percussive playing" as a guitar technique. Example one works toward building the basic development of this acoustic percussive idea through hand contact "hits" made to the guitars lower bout region (the wider half of the guitar).

Each of the attacks are done by striking the lower bout of the acoustic guitar with the pads of the strumming-hands fingers. The result is a 'deep-tone' drum attack (lower register tonal sound) due to the more open wood found at the lower bout region.

Example two works at blending another acoustic percussive idea referred to as "Body Taps," along side of "Percussive Hits." The blend of these two acoustic guitar soundboard hits produces separate tonal characteristics.

As we discussed in example one, the "Percussive Hit" generates a lower deeper sound from the guitars lower bout region. However, the "Body Taps," at the upper bout (the half of the guitar closest to the neck), produces a higher register attack with a brighter tone.

PART TWOThe exercise in example three expands upon our mix of percussive techniques by including elements of "Ghost Notes." The unique scratched /string-muted effect of the "Ghost Note" performed alongside of "Body Taps" and "Percussive Hits," generates a strong percussive feel. This collection of percussive playing is often used by soloist folk fingerstyle players (such as Andy McKee in his song "Drifting"), to add more punch to their pieces.

Example four completes the lesson with a two-bar phrase that not only mixes all of the techniques together, but it also adds the sound of single-note line melody as well. The example uses a key of, "A Minor" progression, and while it may only be two measures, it contains a lot of variations through the use of percussive technique mixed with more detailed fingerstyle ideas and strumming.

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