How to Spice Up Your Two-Hand Tapping

Freshening up the traditional tapping sound.

Ultimate Guitar
If you're already comfortable with Van Halen-style tapping on the guitar, and you're feeling like the tapping ideas you use on the guitar are a little tired and overused, here's a simple way of freshening up this traditional sound.

Let's start with Ex. 1, which combines Boxes 1 and 2 of the E minor pentatonic scale. Tap the highest note of each string, then use pull-off's to complete each string of notes.

In Ex. 2, we'll take a Greg Howe-inspired approach to create a descending 3's pattern (down 3 notes, back one, down three, up one, etc.).

In Ex. 3, we're creating a new context to later apply the sequence found in Ex. 2. This pattern sounds great over a C major chord in the key of G and contains every note of the G major scale, but spread apart with wider intervals to sound a little less orthodox. The notes in Ex. 3 are, in descending order, G E C D B G A F# D E C A. You can think of them as individual triads on each string:
  • String 1: G E C (descending C arpeggio)
  • String 2: D B G (descending G arpeggio)
  • String 3: A F# D (descending D arpeggio)
  • String 4: E C A (descending Am arpeggio)

In Ex. 4, we combine the descending 3's pattern from Ex. 2 with the note choices of Ex. 3, finishing off with a legato phrase similar to something Joe Satriani might do. This lick comes from one of my songs, which is in the key of D Mixolydian.

Now think of as many ways as you can to move this pattern around the fretboard, outlining different shapes and arpeggios, and watch you two-hand tapping soar!

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About the Author:
Eric Bourassa runs a school for guitar lessons in Fort Worth, TX. He has worked with over 500 guitar students and continues to train guitarists to become shred monsters.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Best way is to spice up your tapping is simple. Next time instead of cleaning your fretboard with fretboard oil use capsaicin oil.
    i still find this really boring...there are so much more interesting things u can do with this technique. check out guys like andy mckee, yvette young, pete davis or tim collis and you will see what real creative two hand tapping can sound like