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david_m
08-02-2005, 01:24 PM
I'm not talking about the percussive gymnastics performed by Preston Reed......

A lot of you know I'm a HUGE Don Ross fan. One of the best things he does is keep a strong percussive tap on 2 & 4 which imparts a really cool groove to his music. He does this so darn fast I can't figure out the technique.

Can any of you tapper / percussive players out there slow down your playing enough to describe the technique in detail? Or, is anyone out there aware of a good video / DVD where the percussive techniques are sufficiently described that I could start practicing?

I can do a little bit of the tapping, but the technique I'm using seems wildly inefficient, plus I can't let strings continue to ring. When I listen to Don Ross I hear him keeping the beat going while still allowing strings and harmonics to ring. I'd love to figure out how he accomplishes this.

Anyone want to provide some insight?

David

Grey
08-02-2005, 02:46 PM
Looking forward to seeing the answers on this one.

Enjoy the day.
Grey

mtmikey
08-02-2005, 02:58 PM
david,

are you talking about what don does when he's playing a line and slaps the strings above the soundhole on 2/4 simultaneously with his right hand?

if yes, basically i think the deal is that he doesn't always slap all strings when he does this, so he's able to keep lines going. selectively slapping. you can use the backside of your fingers, side of your hand, whatever it takes to keep things going with the rest of the digits.

the other thing don does is slap the fretboard with his left hand while playing lines with his right hand. i saw him do this on "this dragon won't sleep" and shamelessly ripped off the technique on a tune called "beverly jane" on my first record.

you can really get a lot going by slapping both spots... fretboard with left hand and right hand above the soundhole.

he also beats the crap out of the sides of the guitar. i've ripped that off too. it was kinda funny to see how many folks were doing this stuff at the cdn guitar festival. it was sort of donfest... i gave up years ago trying to play like him but have absorbed a lot of his stuff organically.

the last thing that don does that i'll mention - and i've never really tried to pick much up - is that he makes extensive use of a thumbpick. specifically he does a lot of strumming and picking with the thumb... in addition to getting all of the other stuff going with the other fingers. i was chatting with him and he had recently broken a nail at a gig with pierre bensusan and had done a repair. he was like, "sucks when i break one. kinda hard. because what i play is kinda dense, ya know?"

yeah. i know.

don has a number of vids out. it's helpful just to see him do this stuff. his new live performance dvd is cool. check em?

hope this helps. you've said "tapping" and i've more or less described "slapping." don does tap quite a bit too... but i'm remembering less tapping on 2/4 than slapping on 2/4... he does do a lot of slap harmonics, but i suspect you know how that's accomplished...

thinking of a particular tune?

david_m
08-02-2005, 03:38 PM
are you talking about what don does when he's playing a line and slaps the strings above the soundhole on 2/4 simultaneously with his right hand?

That is exactly what I'm talking about. I know you mention that he does this with theback of his fingers, but can you be more detailed? If you were decompsoing a travis pick, does the slap occur where the index finger normally plucks the string? Does he slap on the string? Between the strings? Does anyone know of some decent excercises for this technique?

If nothing else, I'm going to corner you in a couple of weeks and make you show me some stuff. Now I CAN'T WAIT for the house concert.

David

mtmikey
08-02-2005, 03:56 PM
at the risk of sounding like a so-and-so...

it's relatively easy... doing it the easiest way. (stay with me.) if all you wanna do is hit two and four... you hit two and four. stopping all strings is the easiest thing to do, whether you do it with your right or your left hand. it gets progressively harder the more selective you get in terms of what strings you hit and/or stop and depending on what sort of rhythmic ideas you're playing around the slaps. i think certain lines, played with the right hand, certain rhythmic ideas, are easier than others.

i've really only worked to keep things slapping and going melodically (well... heck... i would say, in my case, more "groove-o-lodically") by playing more of the melody (or "line") on the trebles. so when i slap in that case i am using primarily the fleshy part of my right hand just before that part meets the thumb, and sometimes a little of the back of the index finger to mute/slap. i will stop maybe EAD in standard (which i'm never in), while keeping a little something going on GBE (which i'm occasionally in). this is really the first time i've actually considered what it is i'm doing... i'm slapping my stomach and looking down at my hand at the moment...

i have a new tune called "welcome to funkstown" on the new record (on which al petteway plays two tracks on top of my nonsense and seriously rocks the house) where i'm doing this kinda throughout. you can get a lot of momentum by slapping/stopping the 6-4 strings, doing little mute things and picking those strings on the upbeats (maybe 4-3), etc. if you combine this with, say, some hammer-ons and pull-offs with the left hand (maybe 3-1)... as you have all of this going... you can... get somewhere... or another. easier to show than write, i guess.

i don't mean to oversell myself on this stuff. i just dabble. i think it gets really far more difficult and challenging when you're really playing independent lines and stuff with the "other" fingers combined with doing some judicious pulloffs, etc. and i was really humbled once when i played some stuff for al where i was slapping and stopping on downbeats, and he said, "that's cool, but that's the easiest way to do it. try slapping on the upbeats."

ever go roller- (dating myself) or ice-skating at a rink, and you're turning to the left, and you do "backwards skate," and have to go the other way, to the right?

it was like that.

al's right. you can do lots and lots... one can take this stuff quite far... it's all down to, as usual, slowing it down and being deliberate with it...

again, hope this helps. see ya soon. gonna be fun.

underwhelmed
08-02-2005, 11:25 PM
Another thing you might want to try is giving a good smack to the bass strings with the side of your thumb, sort of by twisting your wrist like you're screwing in a light bulb. That should let the treble strings ring out.

JedimasterPaul
08-03-2005, 05:45 AM
Is this similar to what Steve Baughman does on, for example, John Kelly's Reel? In that tune he does either a percussive palm slap or a middle-finger-thwack on the 2nd and 4th beat of each measure. More slaps than thwacks.

I worked on this tune and it is a good one for learning the technique I think since the melody notes played on beats 2 and 4 are all achieved via hammer-ons and pull-offs, so you don't have to worry about slapping/thwacking at the same time you are plucking a note. :)

Anyway, I end up using the side of my thumb for this, and usually end up hitting the three heavy strings.

It's a great technique and I think it really adds drive to a tune.

I've actually never heard anything by Don Ross - recommend some tunes/CDs of his for me to listen to please. :)

mtmikey
08-03-2005, 07:18 AM
I've actually never heard anything by Don Ross - recommend some tunes/CDs of his for me to listen to please. :)

passion session, huron street, robot monster. lots more earlier stuff but harder to find. he's done some celtic stuff further back. gobyfish.com for a discography.

the "men of steel" guys put out a cd that's good and don's on it. you prolly know tony mcmanus' stuff. he's on it as well, with dan crary and beppe gambetta. all great players.

david_m
08-03-2005, 10:30 AM
I've actually never heard anything by Don Ross - recommend some tunes/CDs of his for me to listen to please

Other may disagree, bu to me "Passion Sessions" is his best. Listen to Klimbim, and you'll get what I'm hoping to accomplish.

Right now I'm using most of my thumb on the bottom strings (6-4), and I get a very percussive "whack" as well as a "click" when the strings contact the frets. In the recordings I like, the percussive "whack" is there without the "click". I wanted to know how to get rid of the "click"

Okay Mike, prepare for a tutoring session in a couple of weeks.

David

mtmikey
08-03-2005, 11:03 AM
In the recordings I like, the percussive "whack" is there without the "click". I wanted to know how to get rid of the "click"

hit it a little not-so-hard and/or move the slap a little further back so you're not so close to the frets?

i've read folks who use a mag pickup say that you need to be a little careful when you're doing this stuff because the strings can contact the pole pieces and go "boom." don doesn't seem to have a problem... but he's using a fishman without pole pieces...

Okay Mike, prepare for a tutoring session in a couple of weeks.

okay. i'll let you know what i want to learn beforehand... ;)

definitely looking forward to it!