TAPPING: When taping you are using your picking hand fingers to hammer notes on the fretboard whilst playing a combination of hammer-on's and pull-away's with you fretting hand fingers. The picking hand fingers tap in conjunction with the fretting hand fingers in a tightly synchronised rhythm. Creating a sound of speed usually not heard with normal picking.

Listed to tabbed tapping example

Tapping example using NO distortion

Tapping example using distortion

Tapping is usually played with an overdriven amplifier or a distortion pedal. This is because distortion is far more sensitive than normal amplification. The slightest touch on the strings when the amp is in an overdriven state will still make an audible sound.

I have been guilty like so many others in the past of saying Eddie Van Halen was the 1st person to develop tapping. This is incorrect, while he made tapping popular it was Emmett Chapman who discovered the technique which later developed it to the style of playing commonly seen in the 2007 movie August Rush.

tapping animTapping is usually associated with heavier styles of music, mainly because of its innovators into popular music like Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen) & Kirk Hammett (Metallica). Add this with the fact that tapping produces such a fast, impressive sound for the average listener. It is definitely a technique you must have at least a basic understanding of.

Tapping Example

For this tapping example we will use notes from the C Major/A Minor Scale on the 1st string. The 1st diagram show the layout of the guitar, thin string on the top and thick string on the bottom. The green dots show the notes that are in an A Minor scale, these are the notes you will be using for the tapping exercise.

As the coloured legend shows, the three notes that are hammered and pulled away by your fretting hand fingers don't move at all in this example. The only note that moves is the tapping note (in RED). This note rises every four taps.


In part two of this tapping exercise it is the fretting hand that moves up the fretboard while the tapping hand always plays the one note on the 17th fret.


Another technique used when tapping is the edge of the pick rather than the picking hand finger. This doesn't get a strong pull away sound but makes the tapped note sound sharp and loud almost like it was picked.

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