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.

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Ultimate Guitar
Tapping
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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, intapping 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 youprocduce 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 yourthum and index finger and hold it onit'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 developedcalouses on their picking fingers yet, though I do suggest practicing with your fingers to develop the strength andcalouses. Now let's spice things up a bit with anexcercise. 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 thefret 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 thisexample we simply tap and release. The tap itself is apull 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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91 comments sorted by best / new / date

    add45
    Why do we care about all ur ages? "I'm 13 and i can tap blah blah blah" SO WHAT? this isnt about you, this is about tapping, i mean instead of bragging, why not give simple criticism to the author?
    I'm a real boy
    I don't mean to show off or intrude but i've been playing for 1 year, im thirteen, i play zeppelin sabbath and metallica solos and other stuff and this guy is probably thirty and has been playing for ever and he got tapping wrong! Everybody, this is how you do it. b-t17-p13-p10-h13-t17-p13 -p10-h13 That is the right way to do it. Believe me my teacher plays metal and has taught me everything I know.
    last_vampire16
    I just want to say thanks to all these people who care about beginners like me... writing these lessons make my life so much easer... also thanks to the guy who made GUITAR PRO!!!... hahaha... now, that's a genius!!!
    travman_401
    inzaneguitarist wrote: Dude i can tap on acoustic and i'm 12 and i've been playing for 5 months so TRY HARDER!!!..
    You must be god!
    Noscalingforyou
    lmfao. i thought tapping was confusing, and i thought i didnt get it. but ive been doing it without knowing. now to learn the tapping lick in bat country -_-
    rocker151
    dude, i could slightly tap already , but now im gr8. i can do the tapping stuff from guitarshredshow.com now. hehe cheers
    jamesdjharrod
    This is really helpful, but I could already tap like Van Halen with my eyes closed. I haven't been playing long, but play until my fingers are little more than a red pulp attached to my hands. But this lesson does help for Crazy Train, as someone mentioned before. Also, do you prefer one or two handed tapping?
    LORD V4DER
    I think it needs to be clarified that after you tap a note with your right hand, you're supposed to flick the string slightly as you pull off. Just flick your finger downward as you release the note and it will keep the string's vibration strong so your tapped notes will stay nice and loud. Also, tapping is pointless and inaudible without distortion of some kind.
    sailormoonfan87
    isnt tapping where you slap your right hand on to the sound hole/strings part ??? or where you slap it onto the guitar????
    hylian_231
    this helped me alot, thanks to the author, it really answered a few questions i had on tapping.. Keep on writing these sorta things, they really help. Cheers.
    SGwieldingman
    If you struggle with volume or cannot sustain tapping for more than a few measures, experiment with the angle at which you pull your fingers away from the string. For advanced players, go to Google Video and search Buckethead. Watch the interview from guitar one magazine. He demonstrates a very cool technical variation on double tapping.
    samophlange2
    i haven't read all of the posts but i have read a few where someone was saying that when they tap it sounds too soft or not loud enough. i can't speak for acoustics because i have never really ever played one, but for electric guitars, one of the most important things to do to achieve a better sound for tapping is to set the "action" as low as possible. for those who don't know, the action is just a fancy way of saying the "string height" or the distance between the frets and the string, when the string is not pressed down of course. the lower the action, the less pressure you have to apply to the string to get it to sound. so for all of you who are pounding away i have always been told that if your action at the 12th fret is greater then the thickness of a penny, then you should have your action lowered a bit. you can lower your string action at the bridge by playing around with the string saddle height adjustment screws and also to a smaller degree by adjusting your truss rod, although, if you do not know how to adjust your truss rod or you don't know what a truss rod is... hire a good repairmen/tech to do this for you. but eventually, as a guitar player, you wanna know how to do some of this for yourself. keep in mind that there are a lot of things to consider when setting up your guitar for tapping.... string height, neck straightness, fret condition and some other things i can't think up right now. i guess my point to this whole things is that technique alone won't make your tapping sound as good as it would on guitar thats set up properly. oh and yeah, it's always best to turn the distortion down some. that way you can hear your mistakes better when you are playing. and start s-l-o-w-l-y, and build up the strength in your pinkies, keep your hands loose but firm, breath, and ummmmm....thats all i got. happy tappin'. hope this helps.
    Slash Rules
    you got a good point add45 who actually cares how old you are or what you can do? I could do it straight away but whos actually interested? Some people find it more difficult but with pratice you will get it
    Collectallfive
    If you really want to see a great tapping or finger picking artist, check out Sam Zurick of Make Believe or for just tapping, Dave Knudson of Minus the Bear. Anybody can tap out a solo, but these guys make it a ****ing art form.
    SLASH SNAKEPIT
    hello again I think you have to practice more with your fingers first?! Iam a beginner so I cant tap 2 but Iam practicing ma finger till they start 2 bleed!!!!! man now iam playing quite fast!!!!! now its time 2 prac on taping!!!
    skate_guitar
    I learned to tap ascending the notes. --5h8t12-- I just flick on the 12th fret to ring the note on the 5th fret, hammer into the 8th, tap and flick on the 12th, and hammer into 8th again. I found it easier to do this till i got the concept before trying to descend --t12p8p5--.
    bluekeyrequired
    i can do it lol and ive only been playing guitar for 2 years...took me an hour to master this tutorial...its not THAT hard rly
    Music=Life.
    I think this is basically most of the above, just way simpler: A tap is basically a hammer-on with the middle finger of your right hand (unless you're playing lefty).You won't need to pick it, coz if you tap hard enough, the string hitting the fret makes a sound. Hope that helped
    derpdragon
    you know i dont see why people find this hard, maybe its because iv played violin for 8 years and am now playing guitar, but i picked this up by accendent. its not hard at all. its just hammer ons but you use your picking hand too. but double string tapping, now that takes some practice. but still easy to pick up eventally.
    guitar_freakgr
    listen friend to tap like one solo you must tap with the edge of your pick . actually instead your finger you use the edge of the pick and it sounds different and lots of faster too . dreagonforce is doing that shit all the time
    Sinnessjukdomen
    I'm sorry to bother anyone, but I don't understand how to tap something like the One solo. Could anyone help me? Specifically, I don't understand how to do a pulloff after tapping. Could anyone PM me to help? Cheers and thanks in advance! ~Insanity~
    Alix Withani
    Mostly useful this lesson. I was looking for more depth, as I read most of this out of a book a short while ago. Could do with some harder exercises. It is infuriating some of the responses on here, that are about as helpful and encouraging as a poke in the eye. To correct 'I'm a real boy' who stated that to tap you want to go B-t17-p13-p10-h13... yes that is tapping, but you are hammering on after pulling off for the ten and thus playing 4 notes where the lesson says to play 3. All you are effectively doing is making the exercise harder. Hammer-ons and pull-offs are easy. Tapping is relatively easy once you can do that. It just comes down to practice to get the speed and making sure you are playing in time and that all the notes are clear.
    Ali-b912
    lol at the kids saying they can tap. yes youi learned classical, therefore u can tap easily and if u didnt learn classical, u probably have perfect pitch or are insane. if none of teh above applies to you then you are full of shit. geusss what im 15 and i cant tap! but this lesson and several others on UG will be helpful in teaching me. if u already know how to tap, dont look up lessons on how to and then bitch at people who cant.
    -metalhead-
    LOOK! if youre a total beginner, dont start tapping!!! wait till youre more experienced! And what the **** is so goddamn difficult with hammer-ons and pull-offS? Anyways love this lesson dude, you just learned me how to tap. Brilliant
    mr_flub
    oscart wrote: do I need to have any effetcts on the guitar when I'm tapping?
    distortion helps + delay effect if you got it would be wick
    mr_flub
    wow uuuh.. i kinda dont get it. i 13 so well help me I WANNA TAP!!! my msn addy is joshee_94@hotmail.com so add me and help me!!1!
    oscart
    do I need to have any effetcts on the guitar when I'm tapping?
    Deftone
    hey everybody should go learn the tapping part to "Aerodynamic" by Daft Punk... i didnt even bother to learn how to tap till i heard that song.
    decky1990
    I can hammer on and off pretty well but I can never seem to hear my starting tap. 2 noted taps r hard
    ajhmou812
    i am already very proficient at tapping complex patterns at 200bpm and i thought this was a very good lesson even for intermediate level players. I am stuck at a point where i haven't gotten any better at this in about 2 months... where can i go for more advanced tapping lessons?