Watch the Pogo Stick online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission
In this first breakdown take notice of the precedent being set: There is much attention given to detail. This is necessary given the nature of complexity these riffs possess and the fact that if one single 16th note component is missing the entire riff will be off-balance and will not sound as intended. Though, that could be a good thing!
As you look at the charts it’s very important you’re aware of the symbols used in-between the notation and tablature staves as they instruct you when to apply the techniques discussed throughout the Basics section. For a refresher, refer to the legend below:
(insert symbol) - downstroke with the pick
(insert symbol) - upstroke with the pick
PP – palm punch
P1 – pick hand 1st finger
P2 – pick hand 2nd finger
P3 – pick hand 3rd finger
P4 – pick hand 4th finger
TS – pick hand thumb slap
FS – fret hand finger smack
TM – pick hand thumb mute
While we’re at it, let’s clear up a potentially confusing scenario with regards to the plethora of “x”’s used in notation and how I utilize them:
When you see x’s in the notation and tab staves it can mean two things. First, in the case of Pogo Stick and the riffs to follow they are used to indicate palm punches (PP) and muted notes that are popped through hybrid picking. In regards to the former, be sure to pay close attention to what groups of strings should be hit when making the punches. More often than not it will be the middle four strings, but as seen in this segment, it could be the lower four strings as well. As you progress to the next few riffs you’ll see x’s are used for finger smacks (FS) and thumb mutes (TM) as well. In addition to paying close attention as to what strings to hit and not hit, look for the significations in between the staves instructing you which technique to use.
As for the second use of an x, it will be used to indicate scratches that are to be played with a pick. The placement of the x’s on the tab staff indicates which strings are being scratched. With that in mind, you’ll never see a string skip when indicating scratches. If in fact you see a group of x’s with string skip, you know it has to be another technique such as a group of non-adjacent strings that are popped by way of hybrid picking or straight fingerpicking. Also, if there’s no significations in between the staves outside of a downstroke or upstroke symbol (PP, FS, or TM for instance), you’re gonna be scratchin’! The placement of the x’s on the notation staff in regards to scratches indicates whether your fingers are false fretting (muting strings with a chord formation) on the neck or if you’re scratching with no regards to fingering and just laying your fret hand over the strings. The way to tell the difference is if you see virtually any other note combination other than what can be derived from standard tuned open strings (ex. E-A-D-G, A-D-G-B, G-B-E, etc.), then you know you should be false fretting. More than likely when playing chords, the scratches in between playing actual pitches will be false fretted, meaning you’re retaining the fingering of the chord when muting the strings as previously stated.
In summation, with respects to x’s, unless you see something to tell you do otherwise, scratch away!