Two Handed Guitar? Forget Jordan and Van Halen and Check Out These 1960s Videos!

Two Handed Guitar?  Forget Jordan and Van Halen and Check Out These 1960s Videos!

Vittorio Camardese plays two-handed guitar

Back in the late 1970s, the first Van Halen record launched and featured a mind-blowing solo guitar bit by Eddie Van Halen called ‘Eruption’. The solo featured loads of two-handed tapping, hammer-ons and pull-offs, integrated into his technique in a way not heard before in popular rock music. A few years later, a young guitarist named Stanley Jordan was discovered playing in the subway with an innovative technique that allowed him to play multiple parts using both hands in a pianistic style. For many, that is the lineage of two-handed guitar styles – but these styles existed before either of these gentlemen were born!

This week, a video of Italian amateur guitarist Vittorio Camardese has been making the rounds … and it is simply stunning. This isn’t some early demonstration of a possible direction – this shows the technique fully realized and implemented by a virtuoso. Check it out!

But he wasn’t the first one doing it – in the 50s Jimmie Webster got patents for his guitar alterations for two-handed tapping, and made several recordings. There is a cool page here.

Then there was the innovative luthier and guitarist Dave Bunker who appeared on Ozark Jubilee in around 1960 playing a dual-fretboard guitar called the duo-lectar. The video quality is poor, but definitely intriguing – it reminds me more of the Chapman Stick or some of Pat Metheny’s multi-function guitars more than a standard two-handed technique … but is awesome nonetheless:

And while watching these things, it is still a joy to go back to the beginnings of the modern context for two-handed tapping.

Here is Eddie Van Halen playing Eruption from a live 1978 show right after the release of their debut album:

And here is the amazing Stanley Jordan from a live recording just after the 1985 release of his debut recording:

Of course these aren’t the only ones, with many other guitarists through the years incorporating some amount of two-handed techniques in their playing. If you know of other major contributors to the style, chime in with a comment!

About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!
  • TMEhrlich

    I’m pretty fond of what Eddie does in that video myself. I have watched it a million times and just wished my fingers would do some of that. Of course I have a little two handed piece I like to dust off every now and then. Great post!

    • I was hoping you’d enjoy this! Did you know of Stanley Jordan? He is amazing as a player, and his mastery of two-handed stuff is insane … but when he tried to transition to a ‘pure jazz guitarist’ I found his stuff lacking for several years .. recent stuff is much better.

      • TMEhrlich

        Of course I know Stanley Jordan. He is good, but my dream has always been with a lot of distortion in a stadium flicking picks to the crowd! LOL

        • haha … if you couldn’t guess from my music tastes, that was never my dream ­čÖé