4(d). Thumb Triplets
Here’s a technique by
Tony McManus to make classical guitar teachers
freak out. The triplet
is rendered entirely with the thumb, by very rapidly doing a down-up-down
combination. It's almost as if the thumbnail is a plectrum. Economy of movement
is key here, with the thumb knuckle joint doing all the work. Keeping the right
hand still is key here. The best example of this technique is Tony's tune
“Pierre's Right Arm” on the Ceol More CD.
The difficulty here is to make sure that the 3 notes receive a distinct
attack from the nail. It is easier to play the string from the left side of the
thumbnail. However, contacting the string too far off the center of the nail can
cause a brushing sound which ruins the effect. Some examples of this technique
are found in the tablature for “The Potato Van” (measure 37 onwards) and
“Mapping the Paddocks” (measure 105 onwards).
Example 4.8 is an excerpt from “Mapping the Paddocks” which uses the thumb
triplet technique with some strumming and left-hand ornaments.
Exercise 4.8. Thumb triplets from “Mapping the Paddocks”
Tuning DADGAD - Capo 2nd fret