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7/1/07

Pick tapping

Pick tapping is a fast guitar playing technique wherein the pick (or plectrum) is used to sharply fret notes on the instrument's fretboard. In some ways it is similar to regular 'one-handed' tapping, except that the sharp edge of the pick is specifically used to sound the notes rather than the tip of the finger. Because of the strength and accuracy needed to perform regular tapping using the fingers only, pick tapping can often be used as an alternative to produce a noticeably sharper and louder sound (even without the heavy use of distortion). Generally, it is easier to tap more rapidly with the pick than the finger, which makes pick tapping a preferable method to produce extremely fast sequences of trills.

However, despite the unique sound of the technique, it is sometimes shunned by advocates of the aforementioned fingertapping (that of which incorporates solely the tips of the fingers to produce pure legato notes), because the tonal qualities of pick tapping are more comparable to simple two-note trilling rather than true legato passages. Thus, the tendency for the technique to rely on rapid sequences of hammer-ons and pull-offs can sometimes sound cold and 'robotic' to some, if overused in a passage.

Nonetheless, an effective example of this technique can be heard near the beginning of Randy Rhoads' guitar solo on Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train", where rapid taps using the pick on the third string (G) are performed while the left hand is slowly bending and releasing a fretted note lower down on the string. This gives an effect similar to that of a whammy bar being depressed and released. Another example of the rigid, trill-orientated nature of the technique can be heard in Joe Satriani's song, "Surfing With The Alien".

An almost identical technique can be performed using the fingernail, though it is potentially damaging to the nail, and stylistically inconvenient because the technique is most commonly used in music where a pick is used.

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