lesson will look specifically at beginner guitar tapping
and introduce you to the basic finger tapping technique. I've tried to
make this as step-by-step and practical as possible, so you actually
come away with a new soloing skill you can really use!
First, the obvious question
has to be answered...
What is guitar finger
Tapping involves using the
tips of the fingers from your picking hand to hammer
on and pull off strings in the same way
you would using
your fret hand.
The below video shows you
tapping in action with an "over the shoulder" camera angle...
Once you get around to
hammering using three fingers on your fret
hand, and tapping using 1 or more fingers on your pick
all in the same soloing phrase, you can create a very dynamic
arpeggio effect which would otherwise be impossible to achieve with
just the fret hand doing all the fretting work.
So now we know what tapping is
and what it can achieve, where do we start?
Beginner guitar tapping basics
We're gonna start simple. Work through
this at your own pace.
Tapping is most commonly used under high
sometimes tap, but just be aware that guitar tapping without gain or
distortion requires much more physical work on your hammer-ons
Which finger to tap?
Most guitarists tap using
their middle (2nd) finger (like in the video
earlier), because if you're picking using a
plectrum and need to quickly switch to a tapping phrase, your
middle finger will be instantly available and you can still
plectrum (between index finger and thumb) for when you go
back to picking as normal.
through the pain!
If you've not tapped before,
you'll need to build up callouses (tough skin) on your tapping
fingers in the same way you did on your fret hand fingers when learning
chords as a beginner. So
it may hurt at first, but play through it! The more you practice, the
sooner you'll grow that tough skin.
We'll just stick to the
physical side of guitar
tapping for now, rather than learning how to tap within a key or scale
effectively. That'll come later.
Try the exercise below. Fret
the string of choice
using your natural fret hand. Now you can tap at a
particular fret using your chosen pick hand finger.
Try to tap in the same fret
space position as the dot in the diagram -
just before the fret wire, exactly where you'd fret normally! Remember,
it's no different than when you're fretting using your normal fret hand.
At first, if you're using a
lot of distortion/gain,
you might hear unwanted strings/notes ring out because of the force of
the tapping causing the fretboard to vibrate. Unfortunately, unwanted
noise is the biggest problem most guitarists have to deal with. The
idea is, though, you'll be playing over other instruments when soloing,
and that definitely helps in masking those unwanted noises
you simply cannot block out.
Try your best to keep your
taps dead on target. If using high gain, the loudest and most prominant
notes (i.e. the notes you're tapping) will dominate.
Start slow, speed up gradually!
to try and keep that tapping rhythm constant - don't just tap as fast
as you can without any thought for timing!
does it sound
like to you?
If your taps sound a little dead
and lifeless, i.e. they don't resonate enough, try pulling off
the string slightly, in a downwards plucking motion
as you've tapped down onto it. Use exactly the same technique as you
would with a standard pull off.
With slower guitar tapping
rhythms, you want to slightly pluck
the string with your tapping finger so it'll resonate as you pull away,
but you don't want to pull off too harshly or it'll sound like a
As you start to tap quicker, the pulling
less important, as you'll only be holding on each note for literally a
fraction of a second.
you can use a metronome to gradually build up
your speed and confidence with guitar tapping.
More beginner guitar tapping exercises
So now we know how to
physically tap, albeit with a stationary couple of notes.
Now let's try the same thing
but with movement in
our fret hand fingers. This is one way of creating a guitar tapping
melody - your tapping finger taps the same note (known as a pedal note)
whilst your fret
hand does the change work.
Try the simple exercise below
and, like I said before, speed up gradually but don't lose that timing!
The idea is to not lose that
initial timing we established with
our fret hand fingers. As soon as another note is added,
you must add it without interrupting that initial timing.
So now we have a three
note tapping phrase.
We can still add more! Let's
try alternately tapping a different note,
still keeping the same timing. This requires quite a bit more
concentration as you need to pinpoint the correct change of fret for
your taps, and of course, the faster you go, the more concentration is
Like I said before (and
noticed in the clip above!) it's difficult to block out all unwanted noise
when finger tapping, but when accompanied with rhythm guitar (which
tapping 99% of the time is) it can disguise most of
the noise ;)
We still don't have to stop
there! We can add a 3rd, 4th, 5th extra tapping note
as part of the sequence if we want. This is where your knowledge of
scales comes in handy, or if you're unsure, just try adding a note and listen
to see if it sounds good as part of that phrase. Trust your ears!
tapping is not just for the high E and B strings, try it on all 6
see what you can come up with.
Beyond beginner guitar tapping
this lesson should have introduced you
to the physical basics of finger tapping which will add a little spice
your lead guitar. I say a "little" because guitar tapping shouldn't be
just for the sake of showing off.
Eddie Van Halen was renowned for using tapping in a virtuoso manner,
but also in a
unique way that made it his signature style - find your
In part 2, we'll be expanding on these
basic guitar tapping
techniques to create more complex and dynamic phrases. We've still got
some essential physical elements to tackle.
For now, don't be afraid to
experiment with what you know. For a head start, take another look at
the tapping video
from earlier (including the supplemental content provided), working one
string at a time.