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Storm Stenvold >> Developing Speed >>

Lesson Topic

Right Hand Position

Teacher: The photo shows proper tapping position for the pick hand. Notice the thumb on the side of the neck which help support the technique.

Teacher: The 'tap' with the pick hand should be to the same position, just behind the fret, as you would aim for with a standard hammer-on.

Teacher: You can use any finger of the pick hand to tap, though the index and middle finger are the most popular for their strength.

Teacher: The most common next move is a 'pull-off' to the fret hand is accomplished with a slight 'flick' off the string. This can be done toward the floor or towards the top of the neck.

Right Hand Tap Completion

Teacher: Here is a video demonstrating a beginning tapping phrase, tapping the 12th fret on the first string. Then pulling off to the 5th fret. Then repeating the move on the 2nd string.

Tapping Technique   

Teacher: Start slow. Work on achieving an even sound and volume between the notes in each hand. Your tapping phrases sound much faster when you can't distinguish which hand is phrasing individual notes.

Teacher: You may choose to put the pick down, bite it, or 'cup' it in another finger in the picking hand. Experiment, favoring the method that most readily allows you to switch between it and standard picking technique.

Teacher: This can be a bit difficult so start slow. Work on achieving an even sound and volume between the notes in each hand. This will require technique and practice, but the even sound will make your tapping phrases sound much faster, as it will be difficult to distinguish what hand is phrasing individual notes.

Teacher: This photo shows the completion of a 'tap'. This shows the tap being completed in a 'downward' motion. One can bring the tapping finger 'up' , toward one's body as well. Experiment with what feels comfortable and produces the best tone.

Teacher: A guitar with light strings and low action will help. You might want to start on an electric if you have one. But players have achieved proficiency tapping on even acoustic guitars

Teacher: The fret hand will serve an important role of stopping unwanted strings from ringing out.

Teacher: The 'highlighted' circled notes are the tapped ones. There is also fingering built into the notation when you view it on the virtual guitar neck.

Teacher: Eddie Van Halen is the one who popularized the technique, especially in a hard rock context, though tapping was used by earlier artists and is used in other styles

Eruption Tap

Teacher: This lick is the signature tapping 'shape' from Van Halen's 'Eruption' solo. Now using a fret hand hammer-on to create a repeating three note pattern. It really is the same technique as before, addding a hammer-on before your next tap.

Eruption #2 Tap

Teacher: Another 'Eruption' cliche. Notice the movement of these licks in both hands. Experiment with keeping one note stationary, moving the tapped note, etc.


Teacher: Here is a sound clip with some speed to these riffs to let you know what to shoot for. Start slow. The speed will come quite soon but will never sound as good if the notes are not clear or have volume fluctuations.

Teacher: Adding slurs in the left hand can have many variations and will definitely add some speed.

Tap Variations

Teacher: This tab shows some possible variations with two notes in the fret hand and one tap. These are all very popular.

Teacher: Tap, pull-off to the fret hand, then pull-off to another fret hand finger. Or tap-pulloff-hammer-pulloff. Or tap-pulloff-pulloff-hammeron. These are fundamental combinations to practice. One could combine these together, or combine them with two note tapping phrases, to create longer composite phrases.

Tap + Open String

Teacher: This tab shows another popular idea for tapping: Incorporating open strings.

Teacher: The spacing between the notes is one of the great thing to tapping. Much wider intervals than we tend to play when picking. And the flowing sound it has combine to great effect.

Teacher: The single note patterns to play when tapping are the same as when picking, either single notes or arpeggios. The Van Halen riffs were more arpeggios, or chord patterns. The Satiani riff came from a B major scale visualized on a single string.

Teacher: Here are the arpeggio shapes for C major. A three note chord, so three patterns to learn.

C Triad inversions

Teacher: The riff introduces a new ideas to the lesson. Starting with picked or fretted notes and then adding a tap 'on top'

Tap + Open String

Teacher: The last tab is simply the notes of a C major chord visualized on one string. You can use this to outline chord progression.

Am-G-F-E Arpeggios

Teacher: Like in this tab. Am to G to F to E. Practice each shape for a bit before moving. I had to move quick to squeeze the tab in a reasonable space but each shape should be practiced and memorized.

Sweep + Tap

Teacher: Here comes a mix of our sweep technique from our earlier speed lesson, now topped with a tap to extend the range or our phrase. Sweep pick the arpeggio to the first string then add the tap on top, pull-off to the fret hand, then sweep down. Best to use the middle finger to make the switch from tapping to picking again

Fast Sweep + Tap

Teacher: Here is a jam track to play to.

A minor jam track (Hard Rock)

Tap through A minor scale

Teacher: Another scale tapping idea. This time 'up' the A minor scale.

Teacher: Another idea to try: Tap Slides. Using the finger on the tapping hand to slide just like a slide in the fret hand. This riff uses slides in both hand. Twice the fun.

Tap Slides

Tap Slides

Two Hand Pentatonic

Teacher: This tab used the A minor Pentatonic scale in both hands. The same notes in both hands, two different patterns. Yeah, more advanced true.

Teacher: The archive will be up, Ed. I have a couple more ideas then thats it for today.

Two Finger Tapping

Tab 10

Teacher: Using two fingers of the right hand to tap is a more advanced technique. What this often will mean is using the strength of the fret hand to hammer on without a picked note to start the phrase.

Teacher: The 'hammer-on from nowhere' technique.

Teacher: This technique can be mixed into a standard tapping phrase like this Van Halen riff.

Hot for Teacher Riff

Teacher: OK. I hope you enjoy tapping. Build up those pick hand finger tips. Take it slow. Have fun.

Teacher: Take care everyone.

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