The Showman Of Guitar Techniques
Say hello to the David Lee Roth of guitar techniques: Tapping! By far one of the flashiest ways to rip through fast leads and sonic guitar solos. With guitar tapping, we have the whole package.
It sounds great, it is fun to play and the visuals are just awesome - especially for non-guitarists and everyone starting out to play guitar.
Behind the smoke and mirrors lies a simple method. In this guitar lesson, we will learn how to tap on guitar and play some of the most iconic guitar tapping licks ever written!
But learning how to tap on guitar is just the beginning - the real challenge lies in the showmanship which tapping demands! If done right it can give the audience a hell of a time. Let’s throw
away our guitar picks and start guitar tapping!
I Ain’t Got Time To Pick!
- Getting Started: How To Tap On Guitar
- Full Shred Ahead!: Tapping Variations
- Nat Geo Shred: Sick Tapping Licks
- Basics Of Guitar Tapping
- Different Tapping Licks and Variations
- Awesome Tapping Licks from rad Guitar Solos
Guitar tapping means that we use our finger(s) of the picking hand to make the guitar string sound. By tapping down the string we are instantly making a note sound! Like a hammer-on with the
That allows us to play big intervals with ease and create pretty cool sounding leads and melodies. Just check out the big bang of guitar tapping: Eruption by Eddie Van Halen.
Sure guitarists used tapping before Eddie but no one was capable of creating such fascination and myth around that sound! That’s what I mean with showmanship! Eddie delivered it all: The sound,
the visuals, and the showmanship! That made guitar tapping one of the hottest things in the 80s.
With new players reinventing tapping over and over we have a ton of great licks and runs that even Eddie couldn’t imagine. Just listen to players like Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra or Nuno
Sidenote: Yes, there are also players that prefer to tap with the side of their guitar pick instead of their fingers. The technique itself remains the same.
Which finger do I use?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Naturally, most of us will use their index finger. Some like to use their middle finger. For those totally new to tapping - stick with your index first.
What should I do with my pick?
Sure, we said throw it away but that’s no option for just one tapping lick in a whole song. The best thing if we use our index finger is to clamp the pick between the middle finger and hand. That
takes a bit practice.
Before we play our first lick, let’s get used to tapping with our finger. Simply tap the string/note and try to sustain that note. This is how a note is tapped on guitar. Easy Peasy.
Now that we can make the tapped note sound, we can play our first tapping lick. This is as basic as it gets but made Eddie world-famous! The secret is to make all notes sound even. Pull-off after
the tap. Nailing this means nailing tapping! It’s pretty easy, isn’t it!?
For the next tapping lick we are playing the same notes but now we use a hammer-on after the tap. Starting to get it? Awesome!
Now that we have the basic tapping technique down, we can look at some more advanced tapping licks.
Here we have a longer, melodious lick that uses hammer-ons and pull-offs like in the basic licks. It makes a good practice lick for stamina and synchronization.
This lick uses two fast “tappings” in quick succession. It’s fairly easy to play and adds some speed and excitement to our tapping licks.
All the examples so far were on one string. Since no string should be left behind, we incorporate more strings.
This is where the fun starts! Before we “pull-off” our tapping finger we are doing a slide back and forth. Tap on the note, keep the string fretted/tapped and slide up and back down to the
original note. After the slide, we pull-off our finger just as in the normal tapping movement. Alexi Laiho form COB loves to do things like that!
Till now we always started our tapping licks with our tapping hand. Now, we shall take a look at something called hammer-on from nowhere. This simply means to start with your fretting hand
instead of tapping the first note. We just hammer-on the string without picking it and initiate the finger tapping afterward. *marks the hammer-on from nowhere
Congrats! We nailed the basics of guitar tapping. As I said before, there are some weird and advanced tapping techniques in this world. For example, using multiple fingers. Let’s take a
look at some of the finest tapping licks in the next section.
3. Nat Geo Shred: Sick Tapping Licks
Is it already that time again? Yes, it is! Time to check out some of the meanest guitar players and sickest tapping licks in rock history. Get ready for some sick tapping licks!
In this lick by Eddie, we will tap a bent note! How cool is that? It sounds killer! We bend the note and just keep it that way for the tapping sequence. Quiet simple with great effect.
Vito Bratta shows us how tapping can be used to forge not only speedy shred licks but beautiful melodies. Amazing solo and great feel.
Michael Romeo is a hell of a guitar player! The tapping part in “Sea of Lies” has it all: Fast, melodious and fun to play. What more can you ask for?! Bitching lick!
Holy Moly! What did just happen?! This is a prime example of Rebs very own tapping technique. Listen to the real song and absorb the unique sound of this tapping madness. Full lick in Guitar Pro
Meet the final boss: This unbelievable string-skipped tapping lick by Nuno Bettencourt is sheer magic. This is as good as it gets and is absolutely out of this world. Having fun breaking your
Guitar tapping rules and is not as difficult as it may sound. With the different guitar players taking tapping to new heights and in different directions, we have a lot to explore. Expanding
creative ideas and throwing in some tapped notes here and there can really freshen up guitar solos and melodies. Now have fun tapping y’all!
My recommendation for further studies:
- "Cutting Loose" by Reb Beach (That's on YouTube!)
Thank You and May the Shred be with You!
Guitar Tapping Basics.gp5