Tapping

author: UG Team date: 07/31/2003 category: guitar techniques
rating: 9.3 / votes: 70 
For our 3rd lesson, we're going to go into detail on another frequently visited and asked about technique, tapping. To understand and be good at tapping, you have to understand and be good at doing hammer ons and pull offs with your fretting hand. Hammer-ons and pull-offs are formally referred to as "slurs" in music theory. A slur is when the musician plays two notes consecutively with only one pluck of the string. A hammer on is a slur that ascends from a low fret to a high fret and a pull off is a slur in the opposite direction, going from a high note to a low note. Traditionally, guitarists perform slurs with their fretting hand. However, in tapping we do slurs with our picking hand and we don't pluck the string at all. We use the force of the string hitting the fret to cause the string to vibrate. You can do this with your fretting hand as well. Fret any fret with your 1st finger and do a hammer on to another fret with your 3rd finger. Do it hard enough so that you procduce a note. Then pull your 3rd finger off and hammer on again repeatedly. This is the same concept as tapping. We can visualize and practice this concept in the following example:
D|-5h7p5h7p5h7p5h7p5h7-
Now play the exact same pattern, except this time hammer on the 7th fret using the middle finger of your picking hand. I suggest using your middle finger because this allows you to hold your pick between your thumb and index finger as you normally would so that you can switch from a picking riff to a tap without letting go of your pick. We can also tap using the edge of your pick. It helps, in this case, to use a thick pick although a thin pick will work. Hold your pick between your thum and index finger and hold it on it's side. Use the side of the pick to hammer down on a fret. This is usually easier for beginners as they generally haven't developed calouses on their picking fingers yet, though I do suggest practicing with your fingers to develop the strength and calouses. Now let's spice things up a bit with an excercise. The following example is an arpeggio of Am to F progression. t means to tap on that fret.
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-t17-13p10-t17-13p10-t17-13p10-t17-13p10------------------------------------------
G|------------------------------------------t17-14p10-t17-14p10-t17-14p10-t17-14p10-
D|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What we're doing here is tapping on the first note and then using our fretting finger to do a pull off on two notes lower. As you can see by this example, tapping allows us to do triplets or quadruplets over a very large range of notes on the fret board, where normal slurs would be either very difficult or in some cases impossible. We don't have to pull offs after the tap. In this example we simply tap and release. The tap itself is a pull of. So we just play two notes at a time rather than three:
E|-t12p7-t12p8-t12p10-t12p8-t12p7-t12p5-t12p3-t12p5--
B|---------------------------------------------------
Play this riff over and over and it sounds as if we were playing just the pull off notes but with a high root note in the back ground. We fret the low note and tap on the high note, then release. It's the exact same concept as our first example except we're playing a little melody in this case. We can also traverse down a string using taps and pull-offs ala Van Halen style. The following riff would be good to end a solo with:
E|-t17-15p13-t15-13p12-t13-12p10-t12-10p8-t10-8p7-t8-7p5-t7-5p4-4h5
- Garett Spencley (http://www.mp3.com/garett_spencley)
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