How To Perform Two-Hand Tapping On Guitar
One of the simplest ways to reach crazy fast levels of speed on the electric guitar is with the use of two-hand tapping, as made famous by guitar legend Eddie Van Halen in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Ace Frehley claims to have invented it, and there are much earlier videos of another guitar player doing it, but Van Halen popularized it and inspired an entire generation of shred guitarists to engage in totally over-the-top solos.
To perform a tap, use the middle finger of your picking hand. Keep the pick in between your thumb and index finger like you always do, despite what you may have seen some guitarists do (like throw their pick away, put it in their mouth, or tuck it between their middle finger and palm so that they can use the index finger for tapping).
Be sure to keep the middle finger straight and even with a slight arch, much in the same way you curve your fretting hand fingertips. Don't over-curve the finger, and don't collapse it and let it bend backwards.
Now that you have your tapping finger positioned correctly, hammer-on to the desired note with enough force to make it ring and hold the finger in place to allow the note to sustain. Continue practicing this exercise until hammering on with your pick-hand middle finger feels just as comfortable as doing so with your fretting hand fingers.
To execute the pull-off with your tapping finger, flick the finger off of the note it is holding in a downward direction towards the floor. Some guitar players curl their fingers up towards their chest to perform the pull-off, but my opinion is that a downward motion is easier, just as it is in the fretting hand.
There are several different ways to approach patterns of tapping on the guitar, But by far the most popular way to do it is outlined in Example 1. Tap the first note with your picking hand middle finger, then flick off to the index finger of your fretting hand (which should already be in place when the tap is performed). Finally, hammer-on to a higher note with your fretting hand. Rinse and repeat several thousand times.
Example 3 provides a shift in the tapping hand, leaving the fretting hand in place. Example 4 requires both hands to make a shift. Extra cool!
Example 2 is similar to Example 1 but with a slight shift in the fret hand.
About the Author: Eric “Don’t Bore Us” Bourassa tries to keep the tar out of guitar by continuing to move things along quickly for students in their rock guitar lessons in Fort Worth, Texas, with him at his school.
By: Eric Bourassa
The real fun starts when you begin experimenting with shapes in and out of scales along one string. Once you’ve seemingly exhausted your options on the first string, try moving to other strings and skipping around. The possibilities are endless!