Strengthening Your Left-Hand Tapping Technique

author: M15T3RJACK date: 05/20/2011 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8 / votes: 7 
The first thing we must address is comfortable ways of tapping with your left hand. Some people prefer holding a pick; others prefer to use only your fingers. If you prefer to hold your pick while tapping, one method is to hold the pick between your first finger and thumb, freeing the middle, ring and pinky fingers for tapping. Another method is to hold the pick between the middle and thumb, freeing your index, middle and pinky for use. Each method has its merits and it really comes down to which method you find most comfortable. If you prefer to use only your fingers you have the advantage of having all fingers on the left hand free to play, but you sacrifice having your pick at the ready for fast transitions between tapping and picking. Once you have found a method that is comfortable for you to use, we can get started with strengthening your left hand. The first excersize is a basic movement to help develop good sliding technique.
Fig. 1
e|----------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------------h12s14h15s13---|
D|-------------------------h12s14h15s13---------------|
A|-------------h12s14h15s13---------------------------|
D|-h12s14h15s13---------------------------------------|
   L           L           L           L

e|------------------------------------h12s14h15s13----|
B|------------------------h12s14h15s13----------------|
G|-------------h12s14h15s13---------------------------|
D|-h12s14h15s13---------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------------|
   L      L L    L (All w/ left hand)
Remember to take it slow and, if you can, use a metronome to develop a good sense of time with this technique. The next technique is to help develop the ability to switch strings effectively.
Fig. 2
e|-----------------------------h13h15-------------------------------|
B|-----------------------h12h14------h14h16-------------------------|
G|-----------------h11h13------------------h15h17-------------------|
D|-----------h10h12------------------------------h16h18-------------|
A|------h9h11------------------------------------------h17h19-------|
D|-h8h10-----------------------------------------------------h18h20-|
   LL    L   LL      L     L     L     L     L     L
The next excersize is a simple diatonic minor scale. The Scale is a Dm; however, you can transpose this to whichever key you prefer.
Fig. 3
e|----------------------------------------------h12h13h15-|
B|----------------------------------------13h15-----------|
G|-------------------------------h12h14h15----------------|
D|----------------------h12h14h15-------------------------|
A|----------h10s12h13h15----------------------------------|
D|-h12h14h15----------------------------------------------|
   L    LL        L  LL
 
e|--------------------------------------------------------|
B|-h15p13-------------------------------------------------|
G|-------h15p14p12----------------------------------------|
D|----------------h15p13p12-------------------------------|
A|-------------------------h15p13p12s10-------------------|
D|-------------------------------------h15p14p12----------|
   L L  L   L       L
Tip: Remember to use your right hand to mute the strings. The next excersize is Arps. Arpeggiated triads; minor, major and diminished. These are, again, in the key of Dm.
Fig. 4
   Dm        CMaj      FMaj      Edim
e|-----------------h15-----------------h18------------|
B|-----------h13h17--------------h17h20---------------|
G|-------h14-----------------h17----------------------|
D|-h12h15--------------h15h19-------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------------|
   L     L       L L
You now have all the tools you need to do some cool tapping licks utilizing your left hand much more effectively. This Final Excersize is an example of the kinds of lead lines that you can do once you master this techniqe. When you are using your left hand to tap, use your right hand to mute the strings behind the left hand.
Fig. 5
e|-----------1-----h5-------h10-------h13s17-h1821h22-|
B|---------3-----h6------h10-------h15----------------|
G|-------2-----h7-----h10-------h14-------------------|
D|-----3----------------------------------------------|
A|---5------------------------------------------------|
D|-0--------------------------------------------------|
   R       L      R         L            R
Tip: If the postioning feels awkward at first, try laying your guitar down flat on your lap or a table placed in front of you. Once you get comfortable with the fingering then prop the guitar up, back to its original position. Don't forget to take it slowly at first and practice with a metronome to get your timing down.
More M15T3RJACK lessons:
+ Advanced Harmonizing For 2 Guitars Soloing 06/06/2011
+ Sweep Picking And Tapping Lesson Guitar Techniques 05/17/2011
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