The Koto-Effect

author: Martin Messner date: 08/06/2010 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.3 / votes: 4 
Hey guys, This time, I want to tell you something about a relatively unknown technique: the Koto Technique. Koto is an japanese stringed instrument. Under every string (13) is a moveable bridge so the player can adjust the pitches. The player uses three fingers picks in his other hand to pluck the strings. The sound is unique. Youtube/google it for an example. Briefly said, it's that sound that we connect instinctively connect with Japan. (the tuning is D, G, A, Bb, D, Eb, G, A, Bb, D, Eb, G, A) Now it's time to get this unique sound from a western, modern, simple electric guitar. The idea is to make the left hand bend the strings and the right hand (tapping) actually holds the highest tone I really suck at ASCIIs, but hey, have fantasy :D It's a fretboard with a Koto tapping guy
                left hand               
e|-------------| |-| |-| |-| |----------
B|-------------| |-| |-| |-|-|----------
G|-------------|-|-| |-|-|-\_/----------              
D|-------------\_/-|-|-\_/--------------                           
A|-----------------\_/------------------
E|--------------------------------------    
r. finger tip             right arm
           _________  
---------_/         \______----------------------|
--------/   _____         -\____________________-|
-------/-\____ \           ____    
------|__/----\_______
----------------------\__________
---------------------------------\__________                 
                  *bending*        
the left hand bends the string(s) up and down and the right finger taps the tone. An other variant is to pluck the string with the right thumb- less tapping, more tone. ... i: index finger left m: middle finger left r: ring finger left p: pinky left T: index/middle finger right (tapping) X: right thumb plucks the first exercise is just a basic tapping exercise for warming up a bit
EX 1a
e|----------------------------------------------5-7-8-12-|
B|-------------------------------------5-7-8-12----------|
G|----------------------------5-7-8-12-------------------|
D|-------------------5-7-8-12----------------------------|
A|----------5-7-8-12-------------------------------------|
E|-5-7-8-12----------------------------------------------|
   i r p T  i r p T  i r p T  i r p T  i r p T  i r p T  
   X     X  X     X  X     X  X     X  X     X  X     X
Now a little bending exercise. For all beginners an important tip: You can (and should) use more than just one finger for bending. Use i,m and r for bending; r is on the noted fret!
EX 1b
e|---------------------------------------------------7\/\/\/\/-|
B|-----------------------------------------7\/\/\/\/-----------|
G|-------------------------------7\/\/\/\/---------------------|
D|---------------------7\/\/\/\/-------------------------------|
A|-----------7\/\/\/\/-----------------------------------------|
E|-7\/\/\/\/---------------------------------------------------|
   X         X         X         X         X         X
Try to make fast AND strong bendings for getting the best effect! Let's get our koto effect: place your T on the noted fret, pluck with X. The left hand does the same like in EX 1b.
EX 2a
e|-------------------------------------------12~------|
B|-----------------------------------12~--------------|
G|---------------------------12~----------------------|
D|-------------------12~------------------------------|
A|-----------12~--------------------------------------|
E|---12~----------------------------------------------|
     T       T       T       T       T       T
     X       X       X       X       X       X
In the next exercise, you just bend up&down when there is a vibrato (~) noted!
EX 2b
e|--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------12------|
D|---------------10~---15~---11----10~--|
A|---------10-11------------------------|
E|---13~--------------------------------|
     T     T  T  T     T     T  T  T
     X     X  X  X     X     X  X  X
EX 2c
e|-------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------|
D|--------------------------16~--|
A|------------12~-14~------------|
E|---12~-14~----------12-14------|
     T   T    T   T   T  T  T
     X   X    X   X   X  X  X


Introducing: left hand notes!

EX 3a
e|----------------------------------------------------8-9-13~--|
B|------------------------------------------6-8-6-13~----------|
G|--------------------------------0-5-6-13~--------------------|
D|----------------------5-3-5-10~------------------------------|
A|------------4-3-4-11~----------------------------------------|
E|--1-3-4-13~--------------------------------------------------|
    i r p T   m i m T   r i r T   . i m T   i r i T   m r T
    X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X

Introducing: hammer-ons & pull-offs

EX 3b
e|----------------------------------------------------8h9-13~--|
B|------------------------------------------6h8p6-13~----------|
G|--------------------------------0h5h6-13~--------------------|
D|----------------------5p3h5-10~------------------------------|
A|------------4p3h4-11~----------------------------------------|
E|--1h3h4-13~--------------------------------------------------|
    i r p T   m i m T   r i r T   . i m T   i r i T   m r T
    X     X   X     X   X     X   X     X   X     X   X   X
... You can practically try EVERY tapping exercise, so here some simple EXs:
EX 4a
e|-----------------------------------------------------5-6-7-12~-|
B|-------------------------------------------5-6-7-12~-----------|
G|---------------------------------5-6-7-12~---------------------|
D|-----------------------5-6-7-12~-------------------------------|
A|-------------5-6-7-12~-----------------------------------------|
E|---5-6-7-12~---------------------------------------------------|
     i m r T   i m r T   i m r T   i m r T   i m r T   i m r T   
     X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   

EX 4b
e|---7-6-5-12~----------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------7-6-5-12~------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------7-6-5-12~--------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------7-6-5-12~----------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------7-6-5-12~------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------7-6-5-12~--|
     r m i T   r m i T   r m i T   r m i T   r m i T   r m i T  
     X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X   X X X X  
And so on and on, be creative or visit my other lesson ('conclusion of left hand techniques' or similar) and adapt these exercises with tapping on a high fret like in EX 4! Also, include hammer-ons, pull-offs and other techniques into this to improve your style even more :D There are many ways to pluck the stings. Post in the comment section if you prefer tapping with pick or without pick, how you bend your strings and how you reach that japanese sound effect :D And vote if you like this lesson :D Have fun and Sayounara xD Martin Messner
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