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Matt Bo Eder

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all - new guy here.

I'm looking to become a student of tapping, so I don't tap anything right now.   But I do work as a drummer in the SoCal area, and have studied piano in my college days.  I do a bit of ukulele playing, but never really played guitar at all.  

I had over the years looked at Chapman Sticks and Warr Guitars, and even had a Mobius Megatar for a few days until I injured my hand so badly I was out-of-commission for quite some time (the instrument was returned to the seller).   Now that I'm back (over a decade later) with a wife and a mortgage, the prospect of getting an actual tapping instrument is just about nil at the prices those are available for.

I had seen Stanley Jordan and Charlie Hunter do their thing and that was intriguing, and at the same time someone sent me a link to the Agile Guitar website - and I discovered they make guitars with as many as 10 strings.  What interested me was their 9-string guitar with a 30" scale (at an unbelievable price of $599-$699).  So it's as long as a short-scale bass.
I got the idea of getting one of these instruments, and having the top six strings be tuned like a regular guitar, and the bottom three strings tuned descending B - F# - C#.  Or make the whole instrument in fourths for that matter.

I think I have the desire to jump in and start using an instrument like that just to tap.  However, I've never had any kind of guitar instruction or anything that would be helpful to tapping.  There would be no instructional materials, would there?  Would there be anyone to help me along, even if only on the internet?  I suppose I just want to be able to play simple bass lines while playing melodies and chords with my right hand, so maybe I'm not asking for too much?

I'd like opinions, is this too crazy for someone with no experience?  After attending NAMM and seeing all the beginner's packages for all other instruments, tapping on a 9-string guitar is something nobody in those beginner markets is thinking about [smile]
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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #2 
Welcome to the forum.

Having no guitar experience might be a plus because the cords are different anyway. Knowing music and having some piano will be helpful. There is quite a bit of instructional material and videos. Bob Culbertson has several beginner and intermediate tutorials and he is probably the best out there. Megatar has a downloadable chart that is helpful for chords and fretboard layout. Chapman Stick has a "Free Hands" tutorial book. I'm sure some here will have other resources to help out a beginner.

If you would like a 12 string instrument I have built three and have one for sale that I just finished. It was on eBay but did not sell. I would make someone a good deal on it because I need the funds to start another one. You can see pics on the sell and trade section here. PM me if you are interested.

Dragonfly Instruments also has some tapping basses up to 8 strings that are affordable. Mark, the owner is a member here, check out his website and his videos.

Let us know how you are progressing!

Oh, also check out the Touchstyle Guitar group on FaceBook, helpful and friendly people there also.

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quick comments regarding guitars in general, and Agiles in specific.

There are quite a few people tapping on guitars. As long as you have a well-set-up instrument, you should have no problems from that end... but that applies to any instrument anyway.

On extended range guitars (ERGs), sometimes the lowest strings don't have enough available movement on the lowest bridge saddles to correctly intonate. On a Tune-o-matic (TOM) bridge, you're just out of luck. On a Hipshot-style bridge, you can buy bridge saddles directly from Hipshot which are shorter. I have them on several of my ERGs, and they are all intonated spot-on.

Playing while standing and with the instrument at the semi-horizontal can be problematic in terms of tapping and wrist angle. I highly recommend anyone doing so get some Gripper strap buttons, or another locking system, and then putting the strap from the top horn over the right shoulder, and then the strap end to the bottom of the guitar being the end going around the back and then coming directly from the left side of the body. The Grippers are available from Stewart MacDonald, and don't require modifications for installation. If that isn't enough to keep the neck high enough for you, I have a friend who added a strap made by Planet Waves which pulls the headstock more vertical. It was originally made for guitars which don't have a strap button near the neck joint, but he just has a strap going around the neck and left arm, coming out from under his left armpit, and it works for him.

My ERGs are 8-strings, tuned low to high EADGCFAD at 25.5" (and a few tuned a whole step lower at 28.625"). It's a combination of an electric bass and a six-string guitar tuned done a whole step. Since I already played bass and guitar, this tuning lets me add tapping to everything I already do. I've been on the edge of getting a 9- or 10-string for a while now. Other than two ESP LTD FM408s, the rest are all Agile Intrepids.

Since you're in the US, ordering from Rondo isn't a huge risk, as they have a very generous domestic return policy.

If you're just going for a tapping instrument, you might also consider a Krappy Tapper, which can be had for less than $850 plus shipping for a 14-string tapper, and even less for less strings. That's less than an Agile 10-string.

Regarding what tuning might work for you... if there was a tuning for tapping which blew all the others away, you wouldn't see so much variety out there. My own criteria have changed over time. I used to mainly use full fifths, and then full fourths, but now like having all the guitar chords available which were wiped out using full fourths. The regular intervals mean I don't have to remember two different schemes for the bass and treble strings, and since they are just one section on my instrument, I can use either hand consistently.

I hope at last some of this was helpful, coming from someone who is using an ERG in the way you're contemplating. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
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Matt Bo Eder

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks so much for the info!  I hadn't thought about the Krappy tappers so I checked those out.  Those give people like me (without a lot of money) hope.  It may be smarter to go that way and have an instrument built for tapping.

The Agile 9-string would be a good idea, a smaller idea for me (since it's 30-inch scale, shorter than a Krappy) but there's that thing about intonation you were talking about and I think I'd have to install some kind of string dampener at the nut that you see on Sticks, Warrs, and Megatars.  

If decided to go with the Agile, how hard would that be?  And wouldn't the intonation already be handled well on that model?  The 30-inch scale does help some with the bass strings, doesn't it?

I know you could string a tap instrument anyway you want, but it might be easier for me to think in terms of all strings in ascending order, rather than that stick method of inverted bass strings.
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Explorer

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Reply with quote  #5 
I installed the shorter bridge saddles because I was doing some radical retuning, full fifths, with a low Ab0 at 28.625", and even at 25.5", I need the shorter saddle for the .090 string tuned to E1 on my FM408. It's possible you wouldn't need to worry about it.

I personally prefer the ascending order. I've always found arguments about the advantages of having two distinct regions interesting, especially in light of how many use both hands in just one region to play either bass or melody.

String dampeners are trivial. People have been using scrunchies and other dampeners for years in recordings, to eliminate open-string resonances between the nut and tuners, as well as on the open strings to eliminate accidental sounding. It's pretty common in metal and ERG playing as well.

Some folks use specialty tie wraps which cost $10 or more. I use velcro cable tie wraps which cost less than $1.

One more thought: If you're using a guitar, it's sometimes nice to be able to separate the high and low areas. The Boss OC-3 allows you to only add a lower bass octave to notes below whatever pitch you set on the knob. I use an inexpensive Rolls SX21 crossover to route the bass and treble frequencies to different effect chains.
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Matt Bo Eder

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks!  You're giving me a lot to think about.  The Agile would be cool, but the single output might be kinda' weird because I do want bass on one hand and guitar on the other.  And the Krappy ends up being a bit cheaper in that regard as it's already set-up that way.

I'll continue to play with the idea for a few days.  
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