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Animals As Leaders: Tosin Abasi Masterclass (Part 1)

July 31st, 2010

[In this first part of his masterclass for Guitar Messenger, Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders demonstrates his distinctive approach to tapping using a new lick and an example from the song ‘CAFO.’ Throughout this series, Tosin is playing his 8-string Ibanez through an Axe-Fx Ultra.]

Tapping Style

I want to show you a newer tapping riff that I’ve been working on. It takes advantage of the way that I have the guitar tuned [E B E A D G B E], where my first three strings are set up like a power chord – I have 1, 5 and 1. This is in Bb, and I’m going to be tapping an octave away from where my left hand is. In the second part, I change from using a minor third above the Bb to a major third, putting it in Bb major. After that I use a C# Phrygian idea, skipping the B string.

[Tosin plays all of the lower octave notes with his left hand, and hammers on unless otherwise noted. For playing the tapped right hand notes, I indicates the index finger, M the middle and A the ring.]

Tosin Abasi Masterclass - Tapping 1Tosin Tapping - 2

I use this approach all the time. It’s really conducive to tapping when you have the guitar tuned the way I do. I find that when I have to do normal power chord shapes, it’s virtually impossible to pull off the same thing with my right hand.


Another point in my music where I use the same approach to tapping is in the song ‘CAFO’, which uses this octave idea where I’m tapping on the same string twelve frets away.

[Tosin tunes his 6th string down a whole step to D for this riff.]

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Tosin - CAFO

If I were just to play the left hand portion, I’d have these groups of five. In between every one of these five notes I’m playing an octave away, and then I jump to the high D string and mirror the pattern from the lower D string.

So it’s a cool way to achieve this intervallic sound. It’s all very consonant – there aren’t many intervals outside of the 1 or the 5 here, but the fact that they’re an octave away and that it’s so percussive gives it a pretty unique sound to the guitar. You can do a multitude of things.

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  • Tempun

    For all struggling with the tapping riff just count 1 2 3 4 5 with every tap and hit the higher ocatve. It’s a very simple riff that’s just confusing with the timing it has, since it’s very fast it may confuse most people, but just count every tap so you won’t lose your timing. + metronome if you have it.

  • Damon

    The transcription for the Cafo part is incorrect, the notes are right but the position is wrong. Not bitching just saying. You can see the correct position in the video, if you modify the tab a bit you will get it. The way I play it is different again, same notes though.

  • Darragh

    Hope someone can help as I may be a bit stooopid when it comes to this, but the first illustration above which starts the tap on the 18, 18, 6-9, on the second 18th which begins on the 8th string, there dosen’t seen to be a tap so i presume just hammer on with your right hand?

    • That is actually a typo – thanks for spotting it! That 18 you’re referring to should also be tapped. We’ll make sure to fix it in the tab!