I can't tell if my tone/rig has always been bad or I'm just bad at playing but whenever I practice tapping the notes just don't come out well or its really messy sounding.

I've never been able to achieve good output/gain/gate settings or even if thats what its about, I don't know.

Is it purely skill? What am I missing?
Sounds like open strings, could you upload a video?
practice your tapping with no gain. you'll hear all of your mistakes way better and can't use the gain as a crutch. if you aren't hitting the notes clearly then you'll know. a bunch of distortion isn't needed or even really wanted as note clarity is very important when tapping.
When you do you use gain, you may want to use the tapping hand to gently rest upon the strings to drown out any background hum. Try not to use too much gain but use it if it`s part of your sound.
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To generate energy, as you tap, pull-off ... don't just tap and lift-off. But it's not huge effort needed.

Muting the other strings is also critical (or tie a piece of cloth around the neck near the head stock ... but that's not a great habit to get into).

cheers, Jerry