Lesson 15 of the Teach Me Bass Guitar focuses mainly on the technique of two-handed tapping. Roy refers to this technique as a “Spice”, meaning a little is okay, but too much can be a bad thing. Two-handed tapping is more of a “Look at me” style of playing, not something you would make a living out of doing.
We start lesson 15 off revisiting the 4×4 exercise we first learned all the way back in lesson 1. This time we are taping out the octave notes with our right hand on the fretboard while anchoring our right thumb on the top of the neck. This can take a little getting used to if you haven’t done it before. For me, working through it very slowly at first, then increasing my speed was key. Actually, this was the key to the entire lesson for me, which is why lesson 15 took me longer than I had anticipated to complete.
We also revisit the drums on bass exercise from lesson 9, this time tapping out notes with both hands to tap out chords. The fretting hand is on the root and the picking hand, or tapping hand in this case, is on the 3rd and 7th of the chord. Again, this takes a little getting used to, so go slow and build up your muscle memory. Roy recommends a bass with reasonably low action to fully utilize the two-handed tapping technique. You don’t need to make this any harder on yourself than it already is.
The first song we learn to utilize the two-handed tapping technique is called “Jet Propelled”. This song takes a pattern of 4ths tapped with the left hand and changes the harmony by altering the bass notes. Roy uses this technique on his Simplicity album. To get us up to speed Roy brings his student Kodi back in and shows us how to tap out double stop chords a la Stu Hamm. Jet Propelled has a familiar rhythm to it so once you get the hang of tapping with your right hand it really isn’t too difficult.
Next up is a Roscoe Beck inspired tune entitled “B3 Blues”. Here we utilize two-handed tapping to emulate the sound of a Hammond B3 Organ. This one has a “boom-chick” sort of rhythm that we first try to get down by once again playing the drums on bass exercise. The meat of B3 Blues has our left hand walking the blues while our right hand does chord stabs. Roy’s intro to this one is pretty quick as it utilizes most of the same techniques we learned for Jet Propelled. Again, once you get used to two-handed tapping it really is not that difficult to play, in fact for this one I actually found it was easier to play it fast then slow.
Tapping it out
Two-handed tapping can be a real workout so Roy wraps things up with some cool-down stretches to help provide some relief. I found myself cramping up a lot when first learning this technique so be sure to take it slow. Once you get the basic technique down you can gradually increase your speed until you reach your target tempo. I spent much more time on Lesson 15 of Teach Me Bass Guitar than I expected, but the payoff is worth it. While I don’t see myself utilizing two-handed tapping too much, it is a cool skill to have in your bag of tricks, especially if you want to show off once in a while.
Ashley sums up lesson 15 saying that if you have made it this far and are proficient in all of the lessons thus far, you can definitely call yourself a bass player! Moving forward the Teach Me Bass Guitar moves into what Roy calls”The Working Bassist’s Toolkit”. The remainder of the lessons are meant to discuss challenges that a pro bassist will face in his day-to-day work life.