Yvette Young, the gifted guitarist for instrumental progressive math rock band, Covet, has been absorbed with music from an early age. Having played piano since the age of four and violin since age seven, she deftly took to guitar when she picked it up years later.
Six years ago, Young began writing solo guitar music, and developed a style of ethereal songs layered with complex, intricate riffs. Her recently-released second solo EP, “Acoustics 2,” further develops the style she introduced with her 2014 “Acoustics” EP, weaving through different time signatures, incorporating an assortment of techniques, and featuring several accompanying instruments including violin, piano, cello, harp, and banjo (all of which she played herself, except for the cello).
Young plays the acoustic guitar similarly to a piano, using fingerstyle and tapping techniques, so her right hand and fingers are just as utilized as much as her left. Tapping consists of hammer-ons and pull-offs on the fretboard from each hand, allowing for a lot of notes to be played quickly. The near constancy of notes in Young’s playing also acts as a metronome, maintaining each song’s rhythm and tempo. Her voice adds an airiness that works with the other instruments to create a floaty atmosphere, and the lyrics, written like a diary, are about hopefulness in recovery and feeling better.
photo by Lyman Gillen
Young says she wrote the songs as inspiration struck, starting with a riff, expanding it, and later adding vocals and lyrics that went along with the feel of the music. This organic writing process is what allows for a more natural-feeling composition and flow. And although her music is complex, the focus is less on the complexities and more on the songs themselves. Her technical playing, such as her use of tapping, serves to add texture and dynamics, instead of being merely showcasing her skill.
When she’s not playing guitar, Young also makes visual art (including the artwork for all of her releases). This gives her a way to fully express each collection of music the way she sees it. She also paints guitars for clients and has even painted her own custom Stenberg guitar body with vibrant reds, blues, and floral patterns. “I usually have a form people fill out before they mail their guitar bodies to me,” she says. “Then I send them a sketch and when they approve I start painting. I usually livestream everything so people can watch the process!”
You might say Yvette Young is a jack of all trades, but she’s already mastered the art of being a true songwriter and shredder. If you’re interested in developing your tapping skills, check out some of Young’s tips for getting started. “Acoustics 2” is available now.
If possible, start on an acoustic – This will help build your finger strength, since it’s harder to tap on an acoustic than on an electric. If you can master this then you can tap on any guitar.
Start with your right hand first – You can start by holding down a chord with your left hand and tapping different frets with your right. After this you can start tapping with your left.
Explore the frets – See where you get the nicest tone and try to always hit that spot.
Use your fingers like springs – You can practice this finger articulation off the guitar, when you’re just sitting around. Practice the motion of tapping with each finger to build dexterity.
When practicing, always start slow – Don’t waste time trying to play everything full speed at first. Taking it section by section (chunking) and then building your speed is a great way to practice.
Don’t tense up! – Keep your hands and wrists relaxed to avoid carpal tunnel. It’s all in your muscle memory after all.
Try fingerstyle (using your right-hand fingers instead of a pick) – This is a great way to add multiple voices to a single melody. It can also be more economic for tapping.
When alternating between fingerpicking and tapping, pick right on the neck – This will make transitioning between the two a lot faster and easier, since your right hand stays close to where it will be tapping.
Practice without using a compressor – This will teach you to get a nice, even tone organically.
You don’t need expensive pickups or a fancy guitar for tapping to sound good – If you can make a shitty guitar sound good, you can make a good guitar sound great!
Use tapping to add texture to a song – It can be used to fill in blanks or add another dynamic. Just watch out for cluttering.
Your fretboard is your playground – You can always find new ways to make something flow.
Don’t get preoccupied with flashiness and technique – A song doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. You can write a great song with just a few notes, and any good song needs simpleness too.