How to Master Tapping

Tapping is a cool opportunity to play fast but it's not that easy to master. In this lesson I will show you how to do it.

Ultimate Guitar
Tapping is indeed a cool technique to easily play very fast on the guitar. But for many guitarists the approach is not easy and it doesn't sound clear. I had this problem myself when I started and after 20 years of teaching I'd like to share with you the solution.

With tapping we always think of playing fast and this makes the tapped notes sound sloppy if you don't concentrate on the important things.

The clue is - you have to treat your right hand like your left one. When doing hammer-on or pull-off you surely practice to do it loud, with perfect rhythm and of course slowly. So this is what you have to do with your right hand and furthermore you have to exaggerate this. Do the tapped note a little bit louder than it has to be and a little bit longer; this will make it perfect in the end. Also be aware to do the pull-off from the tapped note as perfect as possible and like you would do it with your left hand.

To get more control I absolutely recommend to practice very slowly and use a metronome. Speed will come very easy when you master the rhythm and sound of tapping.

Now let's start:

Exercise 1

Choose any string. Tap on the 9th fret with the middle or index finger of your right hand, pull-off to the 2nd fret (index finger left hand) and hammer-on to the 5th fret with your third or little finger... Then repeat this in triplets.
9 - 2 - 5 

Exercise 2

When you get familiar, start moving your right hand:
9 - 2 - 5 / 10 - 2 - 5 / 12 - 2 - 5 ...

Exercise 3

Then move your left hand:
9 - 2 - 5 / 9 - 3 - 6 / 9 - 4 - 7 ...

Exercise 4

Now let's move on to other strings.

Exercise 5

Van Halen - Eruption Tapping Part

Yes! The most famous tapping solo ever is really easy and completely played on the B-string with the basic triplet feeling you just learned:-)
Please take your time and start slowly!

T9p2h5 (8 times) T10p2h5 (8 times) T10p4h7 (6 times) T12p4h7 (2 times) T12p5h9 (8 times)

T13p5h8 (6 times) T15p5h8 ( 2 times) T15p7h10 (6 times) T17p7h10 (2 times) T17p9h12 (16 times)

Note, that there is one extra tap on the 17th fret. There the emphasis changes to the beat on the index finger of your left hand with the tapped note at the end of each triplet.

p12h15T17p (2 times) 11h14T17p (2 times) 10h13T17p (2 times) 9h12T17p (2 times) Repeat this row

10h13T15p (2 times) 9h12T15p (2 times) 8h11T15p (2 times) 7h10T15p (2 times)

8h11T13p (2 times) 7h10T13p (2 times) 6h9T13p (2 times) 5h8T13p (2 times)

4h7T12p (8 times) 5h8T12p (8 times) 4h7T12p (8 times)

5h8T12p4h7T12p (8 times) 5

In the video I go through the complete tapping part. It's in German but I'm sure you will understand everything when you see what I'm doing.

About the Author:
Andreas Vockrodt is guitarist, composer, guitar teacher & organizer of the guitar world record from Stuttgart Germany. Official website.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not good. You majorly contradicted yourself. You said "treat your right hand like your left hand" and then proceeded to flick down when tapping with your right hand. The most effective tapping method is to always pull up. Your right hand fingers should move in the same direction your left hand fingers do when doing a pull off. Your right hand rights should be coming up towards your face when you pull up, not pushing away. This allows you to also incorporate the use of more than one finger on the tapping hand. The sloppy technique you are showing severely limits your speed and possibility to use multiple fingers.
    There can be some talking about this:I taught tapping to many people over the years and most of them found it much easier to pull downward so that's the common way to teach it when you start. Also it should be said, this lesson here is for tapping beginners. Tapping with multiple fingers is a very advanced technique only used in some very few moments of music history so we will touch this some time later.