Tapping On Bass Guitar. Part 1 - Basics

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: bass lessons
rating: 9.2 / votes: 71 
Tapping on Bass Guitar Lesson #1 ================================ This is the first in a series of lessons on tapping and related techniques for bass guitar. I hope to explain both the physical side of things, and some of the theory behind the notes. I'm starting from absolute basics so it should be very easy to follow - get this stuff nailed and the rest is easy too. Please mail me if you thing I'm going too fast or too slow. The very existence of this course depends on feedback - unless I know people are reading this then I won't even write part 2. I'll try and address any problems or suggestions I receive in future lessons. Tapping is often seen as a technique used exclusively for solos but this isn't necessarily the case and I'll try and provide examples of each lesson point that demonstrates its use in a supporting SONG context. On a related note I will feel free to digress into other techniques as and when I feel that they are interesting or necessary to place a piece of tapping in context. The techniques I'll outline form a part of a good bass players toolbag. You don't have to be an experienced bass player to follow this course, but if you are starting from near absolute scratch then make sure you spend time acquiring other techniques. This stuff will sound great, and may make an audience notice you if the band is working well - but if you can't pedal quavers then the band isn't going to work, and you're just going to look daft. Tapping can be roughly divided into two styles - the Billy Sheehan (+Eddie Van Halen) and the Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani) style. I'll touch on both, but concentrate on the latter, as it tends to be more harmonically driven, and is more applicable to a typical band situation. OK - enough waffle lets start... Sit down with your bass and with the index finger of your LEFT hand play the A string at the 12th fret by hammering on (don't use your right hand at all):
    __
|-----------------||--/--\-------O------------
|-----------------||  \   | .
|--12-------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
   H|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Easy huh? Make sure that it sounds clean. Practise ending the note as well as starting it by lifting you finger a small fraction away from the fretboard so the string is damped. There should be no rattles, and the note should end when you want it to. Now keep your left hand in about the same position and bring your right hand round so your elbow is over the bridge(ish), and your fingers are over the fretboard. Rest your thumb on the top side of the neck and place your fingers over the 14th fret - index finger over the D string, middle over the G string. This is your basic arm position (though like all basic things you'll grow to learn when not appropriate). Now bring your right index finger down onto the string to tap your first note.
-O-

---
    __
|-----------------||--/--\--------------------
|----14-----------||  \   | .
|-----------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
     T|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Once again practise starting and stopping the note cleanly - it should be just as good as the note hammered with your left hand. Now lets put those two together...
     -O-
 
     ---
    __
|-----------------||--/--\----------O---------
|o------14-------o||  \   | .
|o--12-----------o||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .                .
    H1T1|-----/--------------------
|    /                    .
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Repeat this until you feel comfortable with it. Listen to the sound of the interval (the gap between the notes) - I'll deal with this in a few weeks, but you should start listening now, so that you'll be ready. Now its time to bring in another finger - the middle finger of your right hand. It should have been hanging over the 14th fret of the G string up till this point so try tapping there.
 O
---

---

---
    __
|------14---------||--/--\--------------------
|-----------------||  \   | .
|-----------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
       H2|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Once you're comfortable with this, start put it together with the other notes.
First:

 O
---

---

---
    __
|-------14--------||--/--\-----O--------------
|-----------------||  \   | .
|---12------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
    H1  T2|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------

Then:

    O
   ---

     -O-   ---

     ---   ---
    __
|----------14-----||--/--\--------------------
|------14---------||  \   | .
|-----------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------

And then finally:

   O
  ---

      -O- --- -O-

      --- --- ---
    __
|----------14-----||--/--\-----O--------------
|------14------14-||  \   | .
|--12-------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Loop all of these until you're completely comfortable with them - Your going to be able to play these in your sleep (with your eyes shut goes without saying - seriously! you shouldn't need to look at the fretboard, though it is excusable to start off with, or when learning something new). [This might be a good time to take a break if you've had problems with the previous stuff - get it right before progressing] Right now lets shift that whole pattern down a whole tone
          -O-

          ---
       O       O
      --- --- ---
    __
|---------12------||--/--\--------------------
|-----12------12--||  \   | . O
|-10--------------||------|-------------------
|-----------------||      / .
|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Get that sorted, and we'll move down again...
   O
  ---

      -O- --- -O-
    __
|----------10-----||--/--\--------------------
|------10------10-||  \   | .
|--8--------------||------|---O---------------
|-----------------||      / .
|-----/--------------------
|    /
|---/----------------------
|
|--------------------------
Now as a final exercise lets put those last three together to form our first song:
   e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e    e e  e  e  s s s s  s s s s
|--------14----------12----|------10--------10-------12----|
|o----14----14----12----12-|---10----10---10--10---12--12-o|
|o-12----------10----------|-8----------8--------10-------o|
|--------------------------|-------------------------------|
Next time the band play's All Along the WatchTower (in the key of A) you'll be able to hold down the chords, and keep the sound interesting during the guitar solo.
More UG Team lessons:
+ Not Another Sweep Picking Article Guitar Techniques 11/25/2013
+ Scales - Think Outside the Box. Part 2 Scales 09/24/2013
+ Effective and Fun Practice Using Guitar Riffs Correct Practice 09/24/2013
+ The Amazing & Mystical Win of the Spanish Phrygian Scale Guitar Techniques 09/24/2013
+ How To Read Tabs For Beginners 10/18/2013
+ Introduction To Lead Guitar. Part 2 For Beginners 11/03/2006
+ view all
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect