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Guitarist mini-interviews: Jennifer Batten

Guitarist mini interviewsOne of the most difficult aspects of two-handed tapping is, arguably, keeping the strings quiet. While experimenting with ways to remedy this (and getting nowhere fast), it struck me: Why not ask an expert? When it comes to two-handed tapping, the first person I think of is the amazing Jennifer Batten. Jennifer is a fantastic overall guitarist, one of the few who have an identifiable voice on the instrument. And she is one helluva tapper, to say the least.

Jennifer Batten

Despite my reluctance to send strangers unsolicited email asking for favors, I couldn’t resist asking Jennifer about how to keep the strings quiet when tapping. Jennifer is a class act; not only did she answer my question, but she replied within 24 hours.

Question: “How do you keep the strings quiet for multi-fingered tapping when you don’t/can’t use a damper unit?” Apparently, the string damper is so central to her technique that she doesn’t play without one:

Sometimes when I’ve recorded in the past I’ve used an old sock tied around the first fret. But for live playing I’ve been using a string damper since the 80’s. I have a damper museum on my site.

In fact, she is developing her own damper model, scheduled to be released by All Parts later this year.

Jennifer is not the only great player who uses a damper to keep the strings quiet. For example, the brilliant Greg Howe uses a hair tie to mute the strings when tapping. Michael Angelo Batio is another damper devotee, although readers may disagree about whether he represents a good role model or a cautionary warning.

Jennifer’s most recent project is a new CD/DVD, Whatever, scheduled for US release in October 2007. She’s keeping the recording process fresh by exploring computer music editing and experimenting with new sounds.

I’ve got a a whole new thing being launched soon. It’s not just a new CD but there’s a DVD as well full of music videos and interviews and a lesson on tapping also. Although I’ve used films from 4 other people, I’ve gotten into film making myself and am cranking out more as we speak. I will tour doing a multimedia video show, playing in sync with the tracks.

Other interests: You would think that being a fantastic guitarist would keep her busy enough, but Jennifer finds time to pursue other arts as well:

I’ve also gotten way deep into making art glass and will be bringing some of that on the road as well.

Guitarists may be particularly interested in her guitar pick necklaces.

What conclusions can we draw? If keeping the strings quiet when tapping is a particular problem for you, using a damper unit is a viable option. When Jennifer’s new string damper model is released, I’ll be ordering one to try (and will post the results of the experiment here).

However, given that damper units may not appeal to all guitarists, with luck I’ll be posting follow-up interviews from other killer players who tap without them, to see what they can teach us about keeping the strings quiet.

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+ Comment by Sacha
2007-08-17 23:03:32

I think you can ask Kiko Loureiro, he doesn’t use a “String Dampener”.
I’ve tried the sock, sounds good ! :banana:

+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-08-20 02:57:11

If you can find me his email address, I will be a cheeky tart and ask him. :)

+ Comment by Oscar
2007-08-17 23:29:01

Yeah, Jennifer Batten is incredible. I have to say I’m not so excited about the damper to keep the strings quiet. Sometimes there’s just not enough time to put it down on the frets or take it off.

See ya!


+ Comment by andres
2007-08-19 17:14:19

Tapping is already cumbbersome enough without worring about damper units. You can use your left index and the palm of your right hand to mute. Also try to practice everything you can play with a pick with tapping, I am currently figuring out the fingering for the picking for my ussual picking exercises in tapp fashion. you can get blazzing speed on many of those with tap. The pattern you used on the play slow to play fast is a good one to practice tapp and when you have that fingering you can use it in pentatonics for example.

Anyway good luck on your tapp crusade


+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-08-20 02:59:07

My tap crusade is going fairly well, thanks! Better than I thought it would, that’s for sure.

Anyway, I understand the hassle-factor of using a damper unit, particularly if you don’t tap all that much. But for someone like Jennifer, who taps a LOT and wants to fully explore the technique, I can imagine that it makes a lot of sense.

+ Comment by Kristof
2007-08-20 09:45:18

The Google ads on this one are making me grin :D

+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-08-21 03:23:35

Adsense is anything but a perfect science…but it pays for my web hosting, at least! :P

+ Comment by andres
2007-08-20 18:37:08

Are you into full out tapp extravaganzas or you want to use it in a song context?, because that changes your aproach a lot.
I used to do a lot of tapping specially for the bass solo spots, they were great I did very complex things and the crowd liked it, but I wasn´t able to improvise with it and if i missed one note the whole patten went to hell so I grew tired of it and eventually had to start all my tapping practice form scratch. So what I am trying to say is taht you may come whit somo great patterns but you need to look after flexibility and phrassing as well.

You should post your progres and some of the exercises that you are using so we (I mean your readers) can exchange some of them

rock on :guitar:

+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-08-21 03:29:26

Actually, I don’t know what I want to do with it yet. The goal now is to just explore the technique and see where it takes me. The main attraction is that tapping lets you play voicings and intervals that are impossible for mutant girlie hands. If I do discover or invent any useful exercises, I’ll be sure to post them. Heck, if I can learn to tap, then ANYONE can.

+ Comment by Stephen H
2007-08-21 15:56:35

Lori - regarding mini-interviews…
Have you contacted / heard from “Mr Z” yet ?! Please let me know ?!

Stephen x

+ Comment by CapnZilog
2007-08-22 08:15:21

This message is a test. It is only a test. If it had been an actual emergency, you would have been directed to your local Emergency Broadcast Center. Test.

+ Comment by Mike Leslie
2007-08-24 00:03:50

I am kind of amazed to see Jennifer, Michael Angelo (UGH!!!!), and Greg Howe using a string damper. I have seen many players that utilize tapping to a great extent as a part of their styles and they didn’t use a damper. Lanval of Edenbridge, Reb Beach of Winger, Dave Urich solo artist, Steve Lynch of Autograph, Jeff Watson of Night Ranger…the latter three employ eight finger tapping pretty extensively. I can see using something in the studio to get a squeaky clean recording but not so much in a love setting, it does take some good muting technique in order to pull off eight finger tapping or fast tapping passages across several strings. Of course I don’t tap to the extent of any of these artists, I am still messing with the technique trying to avoid the stereotypical Triadic phrasing, and incorporating slides and other strings.

+ Comment by Roadgod
2007-09-06 18:36:45

Speaking of tapping - Chet! The whole upside down, both hands tapping method. (for action shots of him check out my pics section) You should get a hold of him at his studio and ask him about it all. Mike says no word from you yet, but he is out in Cali at the moment so I am not sure if he is checking email…and he takes lessons from Stanley Jordon so I am sure he will have a few things to say about it as well.


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