Slap Harmonics and Open Tuning (Guitar Lesson)


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David Anthony

Slap Harmonics and Open Tuning

In this action packed lesson, David Anthony teaches slap harmonics and CGDGAD tuning.

Taught by David Anthony in Tips and Tricks seriesLength: 15:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (03:31) Intro to Slap Harmonics and Open Tuning In this lesson, David explains a technique commonly referred to as "slap harmonics." Slap harmonics are a specific type of tapped harmonics. As a result, you must master all of the concepts discussed in the previous lesson in order to get the full benefit of this lesson. A slap harmonic is created by simultaneously producing two or more tapped harmonics.

Notation of Slap Harmonics

Since, a slapped harmonic is a type of tapped harmonic, the notation for a tapped harmonic is also used for slap harmonics.

Note: Review how a tap harmonic is notated in the previous lesson.

Guitarists to Check Out

A guitarist named Michael Hedges originally pioneered the tap harmonic style. Hedges used many of the techniques discussed in this lesson series to develop a completely original approach to the steel-string acoustic. He used the guitar effectively as a melodic and percussive instrument. He accomplished this feat through tricks such as tapped harmonics.

Since the inception of this style, countless guitarists have expanded upon Hedges' techniques. Some notable players to check out are Michael Kelsey and Eric Loy. Also, be sure to check out Antoine DuFour. Antoine is a young guitar virtuoso from Mascouche, Canada. He blends natural, tapped, and harp harmonics seamlessly into his own style. Many of these guitarists apply alternate tunings to create their distinct sound. David demonstrates one of such tunings in this lesson.

C, G, D, G, A, D Tuning

Note: Most commonly, the open strings in an open tuning outline a basic major triad. Common examples of this are open G (Taropatch), open E, and open D. Tunings that do not outline a major or minor triad are simply referred to as "alternate tunings." The notes C, G, D, G, A, and D do not spell a specific triad. These notes spell a CMA6/9 chord. Another common tuning used by tap harmonic masters is D, A, D, G, A, D. This tuning is frequently referred to as "dad-gad" tuning.

Do not attempt to play in this tuning on an electric guitar unless you perform a whole new setup. Most likely, your guitar is setup for standard tuning. If you tune your electric guitar to the tuning discussed in this lesson, the guitar will not stay intonated properly. Due to the increased tension that steel acoustic strings apply to the neck of the guitar, it is not necessary to perform a setup in order to play in this alternate tuning.
Chapter 2: (04:50) More on CGDGAD Tuning Follow these steps to tune each of your strings to the notes listed above:

1. First, you must tune your low bass string down to the note C. Fret the note C at the third fret of the A string.

2.Then, match the pitch of your lowest string to this note.
Next, David matches the pitch of the fifth string to the 7th fret of the low string. This note is G. However, it is much easier to tune the fifth string to G by matching its pitch with the open G string. This will typically yield a more accurate result. Visit Mark Nelson's lessons for a clear example of how this is accomplished.

3. The fourth and third strings remain tuned to the same pitch. Respectively, these notes are D and G.

4. Tune the 2nd string to the note A. Match the pitch of this string to the 2nd fret of the third string.

5. David matches the pitch of the first string to the 5th fret of the second string. This note is D. It is much easier to match the pitch of the high string to the open D string (4th string).

Whenever you tune to an alternate or open tuning, it is always best to use the pitch of an open string that remains unchanged as a reference when adjusting the tuning of the other strings.

David demonstrates a brief piece to give you a clear example of the chordal possibilities available in this tuning.
Chapter 3: (06:38) Slap Harmonics in CGDGAD Tuning David demonstrates a few slapped harmonic licks in this tuning.

Guitar Notation when Using a Capo

Essentially, the capo moves the location of the nut to a new fret marker. David is playing with the capo at the 2nd fret. As a result, 2nd fret notes are now labeled as open strings. By the same principle, harmonics slapped at the 14th fret are labeled in tablature at the 12th fret. All tablature indications are relative to the capo. Essentially, you need add 2 to every number indicated in tablature. Pay very close attention to this when playing through the exercise that David demonstrates. All pieces that involve a capo are notated this way in tablature.

Playing the Exercise

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature to this exercise.

Slap the harmonics in this exercise with the fleshy pad of the middle finger. Use the middle finger of the left hand to fret the chromatic, descending bass line.

This exercise provides an example of a compositional technique known as contrapuntal elaboration on a static harmony, or "CESH." Dr. Michael Cox, a jazz and saxophone instructor at Capital University, named this technique. This lengthy title essentially means that the bass line is changing while the prevailing harmony remains constant.

David demonstrates how to play this exercise with a few variations. For example, you can apply some pull-offs to the bass line to give the rhythm more forward.

Video Subtitles / Captions





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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


gregdiehlgregdiehl replied on November 20th, 2012

someone needs to do a lesson on "Who's Behind the Door" open tuned with GGDGBD

daryldaryl replied on October 17th, 2008

I am not able to print your slap harmonics exercises with David Anthony. It is not showing up on your veiw/print section.

Tips and Tricks

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Every guitarist gets to a point where he/she wishes to add his/her own touch to songs. Basic techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, rakes, and harmonics are a great way to put an original spin on the music you play.



Lesson 1

Intro to Lesson Series

David Anthony introduces the Tips and Tricks lesson series.

Length: 4:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Basics of Harmonics

David explains the basics of natural harmonics.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Cool Harmonic Exercises

David Anthony teaches a basic harmonic exercise. The exercise is modeled after "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica.

Length: 10:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Rakes and Harmonics

David Anthony explains a technique known as string rakes. He explains how rakes may be used with harmonics.

Length: 15:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Harmonic Exercise

David Anthony teaches a beautiful harmonic exercise. This exercise is a short piece that is great for building harmonic skills.

Length: 15:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tap Harmonics

David Anthony covers the basics of tap harmonics. He demonstrates an exercise that will help you with this technique.

Length: 24:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Slap Harmonics and Open Tuning

In this action packed lesson, David Anthony teaches slap harmonics and CGDGAD tuning.

Length: 15:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

More Slap Harmonics

David demonstrates a new exercise involving slap harmonics.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Harp Harmonics

David introduces harp harmonics.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Harp-Slap Harmonic Jam

David Anthony brings harp and slap harmonics together in a practical, musical exercise.

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

More Harp Harmonics

David returns to the world of harp harmonics. Once again, this lesson uses an alternate tuning.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About David Anthony View Full Biography David Anthony was born on November 9th, 1982, in the small town of Mount Hope, NY. As a child he absorbed the church flavored musical environment that his parents provided. With this influence he realized at a young age that music would not simply be a passive experience for him. It was not until the age of 15 that he decided to string up his first guitar. Relying solely on his father for his foundational chord knowledge, he quickly became enamored with the possibility of endless melodic structures, and the goal of becoming a fantastic player himself.

His early shredder influences came from Kirk Hammet of Metallica. During his first few years of guitar playing, he developed a very workable knowledge of pentatonic, major and minor scales. Over the years his musical interests swayed from rock to standards, from jazz to classical, and a strong love of the art of flamenco guitar; Spanish finger style. It was not until the age of 18 that he decided to surround himself entirely with the music of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. This influential exclusivity enabled him to learn more about thinking outside of the musical box. In one year he had learned than in the prior 3 years. Picking up multiple ways to structure melodies, create chords and use different modes, his writing and improvisational abilities grew exponentially. In his senior year of high school, he was responsible for the development of the first Musical Appreciation class in the schools history, and had aided the instructor in the teaching of those classes.

After high school, his focus started to rest mainly in writing. With this he realized that he would need additional, abstract influences to develop a unique style of writing. After a couple more years of playing in a small band, and writing some decent material, he greeted 2004 with a move to Nashville, TN. There he found the exact influence that would change his opinion of the guitar forever. Attempting to weed out a strong foundation in shredding and solo techniques, he began learning finger style guitar, and quickly realized the options that his door would open for him.

As he picked up more complex chord structures and jazz scales, his style became a passion for him that continues to drive him and push him to learn more. He feels strongly about the connection between musical input and the music you write. He notes that his subconscious pool of influence, developed from the music he listens to, is almost directly responsible for the type of music that he writes. He adamantly believes that in order to create a unique, soulful style, the pool must remain unpolluted by substandard music. What's that mean? As David puts it, "If you don't want to play crap, don't listen to crap."

David currently teaches Jazz guitar in Fort Collins, Colorado, with plans to move back to Nashville in the spring to pursue a career in writing.

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