Modern Fingerstyle Techniques: “Over The Top” Playing

ACADEMY  /  MODULE #10  /  Over The Top


The over the top playing style looks pretty impressive, I think the most popular music video featuring this technique is Andy McKee’s "Drifting". If you haven’t seen it yet, which I highly doubt, definitely go and check it out!

For this exercise you’ll need to tune your guitar to drop D tuning, so tune the low ‘E’ string down to D.

Ex. 1


Over the top tapping is just like conventional tapping with the difference that the fretting hand is inverted. This is why it’s preferable to have your guitar tuned to drop D so you can play full chords.

Start by hammering on your fretting hand onto the lower strings. If you are not used to holding your arm in this way, make sure to take breaks because your shoulder may make your shoulder sore. With this technique, you can play hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides. Experiment around with it and try to get the notes ringing clearly.

I have prepared a basic riff to practice the over the top technique along with some tap picking.

Ex. 2


Besides playing chords, we can also play single notes. Try to hit the low ‘E’ and ‘A’ strings with your index and middle finger with the tip, not the pad. Once it sounds correct, add the pull-off as well.

If you want to get more advanced, try adding the ring finger. Reach all the way around and hammer on the high ‘E’ string, then try to play pull-offs again with each finger.

Alright, let’s make some music!

Ex. 3


Finally, let’s add some percussion. Since your fretting hand is now inverted, it is convenient to play percussion on the shoulder of the guitar. This final exercise combines over the top tapping along with slap harmonics and percussion, have fun!