‘Out On A Limb’ is dedicated to my young friend Sungha Jung. The song is about taking risks just for the hell of it. Life’s too short to only play it safe. Go out on a limb even if you might fall because that’s where you sometimes find the best fruit!
The tuning here is the ever-so versatile DADF#AE – open D with an E on top. I’ve got a little crush on this tuning that should be obvious by the fact a large number of the tunes on my new album Trickster use it.
Get acquainted with the harmonic melody in bars one through seven – this gets repeated throughout the entire piece with numerous textures underneath. The bass line here is hammer-ons and pull-offs only. The challenge with those is to use just the right amount of force. You don’t want to hammer your fingers on so hard that you end up out of tune and the same goes for pull-offs – use too much force and things just won’t sound good any more. Find a healthy balance between the two.
An X on the fifth string tells you to perform a string click, usually done by clicking your thumb on one of the bass strings. In bar seven, we meet the bass thump which can be either a gentle heel-of-your-hand thump on the guitar top above the sound hole (as in bar seven) or the bottom right of your guitar.
With your right hand in this position, you can slap the side of the guitar with your finger (X on string two) or thump the top with the heel of your hand (X on string four). Relax, it all looks much worse on paper.
The only two percussive things that diverge from this are the Xs on the third string – for bars 12 and 14 – where you tap the upper bout of the guitar above the end of the fretboard, and the X on the first string – also bars 12 and 14 – where you slap the side of your guitar; the bit right at your own breastbone, with your thumb.
Okay, now that this is out of the way and our left and right hands are obviously already busy, we have to resort to harmonic slaps to keep that melody going. The slap/tap harmonics are simple Michael Hedges-type harmonic slaps: strike (and then release) the first link of your index finger directly on to the indicated fret to produce the harmonics. Some people prefer to use their middle finger.
Download the tablature for ‘Out On A Limb’ here: Out On A Limb
This tune is taken from my brand-new album Trickster available from www.thomasleeb.com