Today’s guitar lesson covers one of my favorite techniques, finger tapping. This technique was first made popular by Eddie Van Halen and became a big part of his early sound. Those of you who are familiar with finger tapping already know how difficult it can be. First, you must coordinate both hands while trying to hold onto the pick. Then you have to decide which fingers to use for tapping. When you finally get all of this together there’s often so much string noise that the lick sounds like a mess! This guitar lesson has three playing examples with guitar tabs and sound files.
The hardest part about this technique is not the actual tapping itself, but being able to control all the potential string noise that can occur. That is why it is crucial to work on this very slowly, gradually building speed. While this is true for most cool techniques, it is imperative for finger tapping. Keeping this in mind, let’s move on to the first example.
Example 1: This lick is a great tapping exercise. It starts in A pentatonic minor and ends in A Dorian (at the 32nd notes). I recommend to use the middle finger for tapping. This enables you to hold the pick as usual so that eventually you can combine picking and tapping as will be demonstrated in example 3. The effects that I used on this are digital delay and a little bit of chorus. To avoid string noise use your right hand palm to mute the strings as you tap.
Listen to the MP3
Example 2: This example takes the whole idea a little further. I’m tapping with both my second and third fingers on my right hand. The benefits of doing this are huge. For starters, you will end up moving your right hand around a lot less, substantially reducing the amount of string noise that will occur. Also, you will be able to go a lot faster because you will not be jumping around so much. Last, but not least, it looks much cooler. This lick is in A major (or F# minor). Basically what I did to build this lick was hold down one arpeggio shape while I tapped another arpeggio shape on top of it. It kind of has a “mirror” effect. This time I used digital delay but no chorus.
Listen to the MP3