Tapping In Depth

Tapping for many is a difficult thing to learn. To learn it, you must start at hammer-ons/pull-offs and work your way up.

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Ultimate Guitar
Tapping In Depth
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Hello everybody. As I know that many of you have had difficulties learning tapping through the other lessons, I am going to try to make a more in depth lesson, for those who struggle. Because it is a fairly difficult technique to learn, but I wouldn't know because I had a video explain to me. However, for more advanced tapping folk, I highly suggest that you read another lesson, because this only covers the basic tapping technique, so don't get your hopes up. Enough of this intro though, and onto my lesson. To learn tapping, I am going to take you back to basics to start off with.

Hammer-ons

The hammer-on, is a pretty basic technique. This requires you to use your left hand and pluck a note, perhapes to start with, use your index finger to fret it. After the note is plucked, leave it ringing and, without the right hand, push any other finger on it, so it gracefully switches to the new note that you just made. It may need excessive amounts of practicing (depending on your skill) to master, but I'm almost positive most of you know how to do it. On a tab, hammer-ons are usually represented by an "h," except on actual tabs, which have a curve thing with h. o. above it. But on net tabs, like the ones on this site, the "h" is the most common occurrence. Here is a visual example:


|--5h6---------------|
|--------6h8---------|
|--------------8h11--|
|--------------------|
|--------------------|
|--------------------|

Once you can do that (and I advise you be able to do all of it, especially being able to do 8h11 with at least your index finger and pinky. If you can't even do that, you need to learn how), then try this excercise below:


|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------9h10h11h12--|
|--------------------------9h10h11h12-------------------|
|--------------5h6h7h8----------------------------------|
|--1h2h3h4----------------------------------------------|

|--------------1h2h3h4--|
|--5h6h7h8--------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|

Note: Those 2 chunks are the same excercise.

Now, I know some of you will be tempted to just slide your finger up the neck and say, "Hah! I can do that excercise!" Hell no. on this excercise, use all 4 fingers, and hammer on nice and clean. It doesn't have to be incredibally fast or anything, just make sure to use all your fingers, Once you can do that, we can proceed.

Pull-Offs

Are the complete opposites of our friend, the hammer-on, above. Just put, say, your ring finger (the one next to the pinky) on a fret, and have a finger bhind it on a lower pitched fret behind it. Nowe just pull the higher pitched finger away, while sort of plucking it with the same finger, and be sure to leave the lower pitched finger on the same fret. The pitch should drop, its variance depending on the space you left between your fingers. On a net tab, a pull off is a "p," and on a regular tab, it is a curve with p. o above it. Heres a visual:


|--6p5--------------|
|--------7p5--------|
|--------------8p5--|
|-------------------|
|-------------------|
|-------------------|

Now, if you can do that, then try to do this excercise:


|--12p11p10p9------------------------------|
|-------------------8p7p6p5----------------|
|-------------------------------4p3p2p1p0--|
|------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------|

|------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------|
|--12p11p10p9------------------------------|
|-------------------8p7p6p5----------------|
|-------------------------------4p3p2p1p0--|

Now, just remember not to slide and to use all of your fingers. And no picking, except 1 to get started. Before you go on to the next section on trills, get comfortable with these babies first.

Trills.
Trills put everything covered above and utilize them to make a whole pile of legato phrasing. Legato means gracefully. So basically, no picks=legato. Everything above is forms of legato phrasing. So don't use picks for any of it. Also, trills and the stuff above is done with the left hand. Remember that. So, back to what I was saying, tills are combining hammer-ons and pull-offs into one crazy combo. All you have to be able to do, is be able to hammer-on then pull (with the same two fingers) fluently. It may seem difficult, but it will soon become a breeze.


First of try this:
|---------------------|
|--5h7p5h7p5h7p5h7p5--|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|

Now just remember to read the hs and ps and use your index and ring fingers to make that stretch. And, if you haven't done it YET, for heaven's sake use your left hand! I can't stress this enough, because if you are thinking, "Oh look at me I can tap," and you use your right hand for thse excercises, it won't sound anything like tapping. Now, I'm sure most of you won't do that, but you'd be surprised what people do these days. Heres a more difficult excercise:


|--1h3p1p0h1h3p1p0h1h3--|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|

Repeat that for a while, and you will be surprised how helpful it can be. This next excercise is good for trilling with all of your fingers:


|---5h6p5h7p5h8p5h7p5h6p5--|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|

Then try this:
|---6h7p6h8p6h7p6--|
|------------------|
|------------------|
|------------------|
|------------------|
|------------------|

And finally this:
|---7p8h7--|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|

For the above three excercises, what you are essentially doing is keeping one finger stationary, while the others trill on it. If you practice all 3 of these alot, you will become an ultimate master (haha) at trilling. If you want a good audio example of a good trill excercise, listen to the begginning of AC/DC's thunderstruck. Practice that. If you want to see it, I will post it below: this is all done on the B string (second thinnest and second highest pitch).


|---0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7 Repeat a few times

|---0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8 Repeat a few times

Repeat above sequence twice, being sure to use your pinky and index finger to make that stretch. Following that, the rest of the intro is like this:


|---12p0h10p0h9p0h10p0h9p0h7p0h9p0

|---h5p0h7p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h5

In my opinion thats a good trill excercise. After you are comfortable with that, we can move onto the subject of the lesson.

Tapping.
The above tells it all. Tapping is one of the most overused techniques around these days. But I like it. So now, I should explain what tapping is. It's a giant trill. Only with an extra hand thrown in, to make phrasings that would otherwise e impossible with one hand, a breeze with two of them. So I want you to get your guitar, and just do this trill right here:


|--------------|
|---5h8p5h8p5--|
|--------------|
|--------------|
|--------------|
|--------------|

Now I want you to do it, but in slow motion. If possible, use you index and ring fingers to reach that stretch. it may seem hard now, but it will make things a bunch easier. Now do it in slow motion. Now, when you are ready, hammer-on your right index finger onto the twelfth fret (if your finger seems a bit weak at first, do not fret (I made a funny) you will get the hang of it in time), and then pull it off (all done in slow motion) and continue with the trill, with that newly added note. Now I'm guessing that it sounds kinda funky, but hopefully you aren't lost just yet. So play that piece with the added right finger and keep it going for as long as you can. Be sure not to use a pick, but you may feel more comfortablr with your right hand middle finger instead of your right hand index finger. Either way is fine, but do not use a pick. Tapping is still a form of legato phrasing, no matter how you look at it. So, you are probably saying, this is pretty lame. Well try this next excercise, and it will sound better:


T T T
|---------------------|
|---12p5h8h12p5h8h12--|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|
|---------------------|

Notice the "T" means, you guessed it, Tap the note below it. Now, to get a nicer sound, when you get to the point where a finger is hammer-oned to the 8th fret, do not release it until the 12th fret has been tapped. Because you would have to move your finger on the 8th fret in order to pull off to the 5th fret, by the use of your right hand. Still don't get it? Well an audio example ought to help. Ever heard of a little song called Eruption? If you haven't, you probably should. It is by Van Halen on their first album entitled (get this) Van Halen. At the very end is a very nice sounding tapping part, that is actually not that difficult to do. Here is the tab for that part:


This is all done on the b string.

T T T
|---9p2h5h9p2h5h9p2h5

T T T
|---10p2h5h10p2h5h10p2h5

T T T
|---10p4h7h10p4h7h10

T T T
|---12p4h712p4h7h12p4h7

T T T
|---12p5h9h12p5h9h12p5h9 This is a hard stretch

T T T
|---13p5h8h13p5h8h13p5h8

T T T
|---15p7h10h15p7h10h15p7h10

T T T
|---17p9h12h17p9h12h17p9h12

Remember to take it step by step, and if you need to, slow it down a bit. For the rest of the tapping part, there are about a gazillion Eruption tabs out there, so go get it if you want it, but it s a bit difficult to do at this level. So folks thats it. You (hopefully) have mastered at least the basics of tapping, although, it covers the other techniques o, more so than the tapping, I find those are essential in learning to tap. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at urgey_fuzzy@hotmail.com.

174 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    jozzo
    wat a lesson. i always thort van halen was sum sort of mutant but i undrstand now thks alot.
    I'm a real boy
    dont do what i just wrote by the way. when it posted it came out all wrong, so just ignore me and find an actual teacher rather than ultimate guitar.
    :demanufacture:
    Awesome lesson. I hadn't a great amount of experience in hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, let alone tapping, so this essentially killed a good four birds with the same stone. Nice job.
    dgme92
    bloody excellent lesson!!!! and by the way, anybody that's interested, i found out eddie van halen learnt how to pick with his middle finger and thumb, so he could switch to tapping with the index finger quickly. how cool is that?
    supergerbil
    Thanks for that. A brilliant lesson. I already new how to hammer on/ pull off, but that bit really helped because the trills were both of those and then adding in the extra note became easy.
    punk_metal2007
    WOW great lesson man I am new too guitar and all that is down pact now (still a newb but time will show diffrence)
    danceparty
    I just bought my self a Jackson DK2M Snow White, and started playing guitar 2 days ago. This lesson really tout me the "easy way" of tapping. Guys, I started 2 days ago, and tapping isn't that hard at all
    Metallisti_
    I've played that trill exercise with all fingers pretty much earlier. Then i read this lesson and now I do it about 3 times faster and add own tappings. I love this lesson!!!
    Karlboy
    I've been playing guitar for six years and i have to admit i actually found that somewhat helpful, but i agree with greenback, you should've stuck more to tapping and less to trilling.
    Ringtone
    Really great lesson, it helped me a ton. I already knew how to hammer-on/ pull-off, but the trilling and tapping part was excellent. Great work!
    DaveBF
    This is a GREAT lesson... It is the reason I can play eruption THANK YOU
    I'm a real boy
    you gotta be kiddin me! for christ sake ive been playing for one year and it took me about an hour of practice to get decent at tapping. It really isnt that hard. Ill show you the technique that helped me: first off, you must know your a minor scale pretty well(ie get it fast) just use that scale and do as following: et10p8p7p5 b-----t10p8p6p5-----t10p8 p6p5 g----- t9p7p5p4 Keep doing that over and over and try to get it as clean and fast as you can, then try moving the tapping hand around but be sure to keep in key.
    Dixie Wolf
    Mad Master Mike, Tapping is a technique meant to be used with alot of distortion. This may be one reason that your tapping is so quiet. If you are using distortion and it's still silent, then yeah, you need to tap harder
    foundation_7
    dude this lesson is so good it helped me understand tapping a lot better thanks man hope to see more lessons from you
    Soul on Ice
    GREAT DUDE! Before this i had no idea how to do, but now I'm doing the Eruption thing! Awesome lesson, 10/10!
    coty_b_goode
    all right! I like how it sounds! it's not thaaat difficult, I thought that it was harder! I really like this lesson! great job
    trivium200
    omg thanks man i never used to be able to "tap" on guitar but this made it loads easier thanks
    futureproskater
    hey dude, nice lesson i actually dont understand how to do tapping, hammer on and pull off...but when i read this its pretty good n i got now how to do it..juz need a lil practice....thanx...
    papat911
    hey this lesson helped alot, and i liked the examples you use, two awsome songs.... thanks
    xXnvleadXx
    tapping is the shizz all the way, and u can do some really trippy stuff if u start tapping out several notes at once, kinda like a chord. rock on! \m/ \m/
    Stringtastic!!
    Thanks 4 the in depth really helped me!! I can make a pretty cool sound but am unsure about the (0) 4p3p2p1p0 is that open? i am a newb so im sorry if this is a dumb Q!! I put my 4 (L) fingers on fret 4321 & pluck with my (R) only once pulling off 4-1 is this right? or how does the open (0) come in with the (L) hand? hope that makes sense...
    Dixie Wolf
    Im 14 and have been tapping for 2 yrs. (been playing for 5) lessons good 4 ideas, not much else
    Mad master mike
    btw, i think the van halen solo thing sounds better if you play each part tap thing 6x, so 9p2h5h9p2h5h9p2h5h9p2h5h9 p2h5h9p2h5
    XxXshadowboyXxX
    thanks! this was a big help, i like how you gave a lot of info on hammer ons and pull offs. I already knew how to do them but the exercises and all that helped me get way better so i can learn to tap.
    rickswan87
    thanks this helped a lot i actually wanted to learn to tap just to be able to learn Eruption how ironic eh? thanks again.
    Trivium_Child
    kay so i can tap fine, play most of these licks but what i REALLY need is some good instructions for EIGHTFINGERTAPPING!!!!! I'm not a good lesson writer and i'm strugglin with it . . . . anybody?
    4baileyt
    if you want a tapping song to learn, try the solo from My apocalypse by Escape the fate