SOUNDS December 3 1988 Page 51
JULIAN COLBECK discovers a new guitar technique perfected by It Bites FRANK DUNNERY
QUESTION: How did It Bites front man/guitarist Frank Dunnery play that ridiculously fast solo at the end of Rose-marie, on the bands last album, Once Around the World? Had the track been recorded slowly and then been speeded up, was it not infact a guitar but a sequenced synth? Does Frank sport an extra couple of fingers, or what?
Correct. it's Or What. What Franky did was to discover a new way of playing guitar. And, not satisfied with this, he's gone on to have a special instrument made dedicated to being played using the technique.
The technique involves tapping the frets/strings using, well, most fingers and thumbs. In other words, playing a guitar as a percussive instrument, like a tiny set of drums, or a piano without keys - just strings.
Although Dunnery alighted upon the idea purely by chance, when working on his eight-track at home (he put his guitar down on his lay and started idly tapping the strings while the tape machine was still in record), he subsequently approached Dave Farmilow from Fenders UK distributor, Arbiter, who was sufficiently impressed with the idea to go away and produce a special tapboard instrument.
The first Tapboard, which Dunnery will be using extensively on It Bites upcoming album, looks disarmingly Heath Robinson. Designed to be played flat - on a stand or lap - it has two fret boards glued side by side; the frets having been scooped out somewhat to provide a truer and less prone to buzzing note when hit.
The action is extremely low. Currently the instrument has two sets of pick ups - one taken froma clavinet, the other unidentified. The instrument also boasts a length of chrome shower hose and an egg timer.
Anxious not to be branded a muso, although I'm sorry to say , he is a quite superb guitarist, Dunnery's additional capabilities as a drummer enabled him to perfect the technique almost immediately.
Although the results sound like they are coming from a guitar, the runs (the notes as well as the breakneck speed), and chord shapes (since he uses both hands and several fingers, chords can be made up from notes at both ends of the neck) tell you that you're hearing something quite out of the ordinary.
As for whether the tapboard will catch on or weather anyone except Frank Dunnery can perfect the technique (certainly I found it extremely difficult) is another matter, In the right hands though, there's no doubt that this new style/ instrument is capable of taking the guitar into territories new.
The snatch of the solo at the end of Rose Marie was just to whet your appetite. Armed with the tapboard, on It Bites forthcoming album (currently being written and recorded) Frank promises a feast. Get practising.BACK
Last Updated 20/09/97