Betcha Can't Play This: Dave Reffett's Symmetrical Spider

by Dave Reffett
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at 10:54am

This is a wide-stretch, legato string-skipping idea that’s based on a symmetrical fretboard shape that moves across the neck in a single position.

It’s articulated entirely with fret-hand hammer-ons and pull-offs and, as demonstrated in the video below, I use my pick hand as a string damper by reaching over behind the fret hand and lightly grabbing the neck to mute the idle strings and prevent them from ringing.

This lick requires quite a wide stretch, so make sure your fret hand is warmed and limbered up. All the notes except for the very last one fall on the 12th, 15th and 19th frets, fingered with the index finger, middle finger and pinkie, respectively.

The first note on each string is initiated with a tap, or "hammer-on from nowhere," at either the 12th or 19th fret, followed by conventional hammer-ons or pull-offs. The goal here is even note volume, so make sure each hammer-on is quick and firm, and when pulling off, be sure to yank the string in toward the palm as you let go of it.

I stay on the top three strings for the first two bars, then make my way over to the lower strings in bars 3 and 4. When I get to the low E, I go 19, 12, 15, then slide the middle finger from the 15th fret up to the 21st and perform a wide pull-down bend, decorating it with some fierce vibrato. Be sure to reinforce the bend and vibrato with the index finger.

The lick sounds pretty cool and dissonant when played over Em or E5. You could also try playing it conventionally, attacking the first note on each string with the pick.

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