Greg Prato for Ultimate Guitar spoke with guitarist Steve Hackett (Genesis), discussing how his guitar tapping technique influenced many other players, including Eddie Van Halen.

Hackett explains, “It seems like that’s the case. Eddie Van Halen gave me some name-checks with this, and he says that’s where he got it from – I’m very grateful for him saying that. Obviously, Eddie was a great guitarist….

As happens oh so often. It’s a little bit like when you’re a singer, and you try to do an impression of Louis Armstrong or somebody – when you’re playing a guitar, it’s a little bit like, ‘Who are you going to be?’ If you do fast tapping, people are going to go, ‘Yeah, that’s him.’ If you get an upper harmonic screaming away, it will be, ‘Yeah, that’s Brian May.’ Whatever Les Paul brings to it, or if I’m playing nylon guitar and recording some pieces that have been influenced by Segovia or actual pieces that he recorded, to some extent you are functioning like a character actor.

I was probably uttermost in mind — ever since I was 16 in 1966, I was listening to Jeff Beck and hanging on to his every note. And with the passing of that genius of the guitar – and working with a tremolo arm – I was saying to myself from time to time, ‘I wonder if this was something he might have done?’ And this thing happens quite a lot – ‘Is he influencing me?’ Yes.’ How that influence works, I don’t know. There will always be an influence. It was the first time I heard distortion and echo and reverb all those years ago. The first time I was hearing guitar sustaining sounding like a voice. So, those things don’t go away – when they get you when you’re young, they kind of got you for life. So, there will always be a ghost of Jeff Beck in what I do. And I think the other people I mentioned, too. I’d like to think there’s something that I do that others don’t.

But the glossary of terms, it has to be shared with everybody. If you introduced something that Eddie names as tapping, and then that becomes part of the language for shredders… If you’re tapping, you can be the fastest gun in the west for five seconds. It’s not all about technique. I think simplicity and melody – for the right line, the right rhythm, the right moment. All of those imponderables that we don’t know where it comes from – it just feels right. We have to go with instinct at the end of the day. All of us guitarists…”

Read more at Ultimate Guitar.

Hackett will be releasing his 30th solo album, The Circus and the Nightwhale, on February 16, 2024.

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