If it’s worth getting to the bottom of this question – and, strangely, IMO it isn’t (assuming it’s possible) – comes the latest and maybe last unearthed fact in the “where did Edward Van Halen learn to ‘tap’?” question. (Not really tap, as those are harmonics. It’s right-handed hammer-ons, but no one uses that mouthful. Anyhow….)
> Ed has said the light went on when he heard or saw Jimmy Page doing the pull-offs in the Heartbreaker solo, and decided to do the same thing but effectively move the nut around with his left hand.
> In a WoodyTone exclusive interview, a high school friend of Ed’s said this about Ed’s ‘tapping’ technique: “Ed learned the two-hand tapping thing from a guitar player whose name is fuzzy to me right now. Something like Harvey? I remember Ed talking about this before he began to utilize the two-hand tapping techniques. But Ed never claimed that he invented it. Back then he’d readily tell you that it was this guy up in the local mountains who played like that.”
So that’s where things were, and then I stumbled across this in an interview with Ed peer George Lynch.
George was asked, “Is it true you started two hand tapping before Eddie Van Halen did?” Here’s what he said:
“No. We both witnessed Harvey Mandel from Canned Heat do a neoclassic tapping thing at a club called the Starwood in Hollywood back in the ’70s. Other people were doing it to a limited extent, Brian May from Queen dabbled… George Van Eps was doing it in the ’50s.”
And there you freakin’ have what appears to be the final word on this – not that it matters because Ed took everything he saw, hot-rodded it to the max and created his own unbelievable style from that. ‘Nuff said!
I couldn’t find any old examples of Harvey tapping on record (anyone know of any?), but here’s a recent vid:
Harvey Right-Handed Tapping, May ’09
> It starts at about 1:58 – check out his two-fingered technique.
Notable: And Then There’s This Guy…
This is a photo of Russell DaShiell, a guitarist who once played with Harvey Mandel. The pic seems to have been taken in 1970.
Check out that bridge pickup. Looks like a Gibson mini-humbucker to me….
I’ve also seen an old pic of Jeff Beck with a Strat that had a humbucker in it.
Notable: Ace on ‘The Question’
In the Holiday 2009 issue of Guitar Player magazine with KISS on the cover is an interview with Ace Frehley. In it he’s asked about Eddie and the two-handed tapping thing, using the research done here at WoodyTone (but not credited!). Anyhow, here’s what Ace said:
“I don’t recall why I started playing that way [tapping]. I do remember playing Madison Square Garden and Eddie Van Halen was down in the pit watching me do it [likely in 1976, when Gene Simmons produced some Van Halen demos].”
Ace also said: “I was doing it with a pick. He does it with his fingers. But I think Eddie’s brilliant. I don’t get into comparing who does what or who got what from who. I think it’s more important that everybody just makes good music.”