Fret hand tapping with Jon Gomm

Combining chords and tapping

ACOUSTIC EXPO 2014: Guitarists have been beating on the humble wooden box in an effort to push its rhythmic limits for centuries. But in recent years, acoustic virtuosos such as Preston Reed, Andy McKee and our homegrown hero, Jon Gomm, have seemingly raised the bar beyond all comprehension.

In this video lesson, Gomm gives us access-all-areas to his amazing skills, examples of which we've transcribed below.

Percussive tab - an explanation

Percussive tab - an explanation

Percussive guitar is an unusual playing style and no-one has established a definitive way to notate it. We're using an extra stave underneath the tab with different symbols to denote the various percussive strikes. Each strike equates to one of the instruments of a drum kit.

Percussive tab explanation (right-click to download)

Chords and hi-hat

Chords and hi-hat

Jon's guitar tuning here is Bb, F, C, F, Ab, C: an Fm chord over a B b bass string, perfect for moody soundscapes with deep bass notes. Invert your hand and play over the neck here; the two-note chords are hammered on with your first finger and your other fingers slap the strings behind for a hi-hat sound.

Chords and hi-hat tab (right-click to download)

Chords with hi-hat and tom

Chords with hi-hat and tom

Next, to really establish the beat, Jon introduces a straightforward (in principle, anyway!) crotchet pulse by knocking his fingers on the guitar's top above the strings near the neck joint. If you can get this far, you're already doing well!

Chords with hi-hat and tom tab (right-click to download)

Chords with hi-hat, kick and snare

Chords with hi-hat, kick and snare

To bring in a backbeat, Jon replaces the steady pulse with a kick drum on beats 1 and 3 (using his forearm beat on the guitar's top) and a snare on 2 and 4 (played with a fingernail scrape downwards on the lower bout). Slap the guitar's side instead of scratching the top if you fear for your guitar's finish!

Chords with hi-hat, kick and snare tab (right-click to download)

Chords and melody with hi-hat, kick and snare

Chords and melody with hi-hat, kick and snare

Finally, the melody enters: Jon taps the first note then picks the following two open strings. The following natural harmonics are again played with your pick hand. He lightly touches the harmonic over the relevant fret, and plucks the string with his right thumbnail. This is extremely challenging stuff!

Chords and melody with hi-hat, kick and snare tab (right-click to download)

More Jon Gomm video lessons

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Jon Gomm and Lowden Guitars

Acoustic sensation Jon Gomm and his companion "Wilma" (from the Lowden Original Series) are both dear friends of us here at Lowden.

We're proud that Jon has chosen Lowden and delighted to see him featured in this year's Acoustic Expo. This year Jon is featuring as both a judge and as a prize in the first ever Lowden Young Guitarist of the Year competition (click the link to see Jon discussing the competition).

The Lowden ʻO,' sought after for its bass and overtones, is well suited to Jon's innovative style and has traditionally been the preferred choice for fingerstyle and open tuning. It has a deep and resonant tone. Lowden Guitars are hand-built in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland by a dedicated team of craftsmen that includes George Lowden and his two sons.

George designed and hand built the first ever Lowden in 1974, and four decades later every Lowden guitar is still shaped and voiced by hand from the finest materials to exacting specifications.

Visit the Lowden booth at the Acoustic Expo for more about the Lowden Original Series, Fan Fret, and Thomas Leeb Signature model.


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