Two Hand Tapping
As promised lets talk about two hand tapping. This is the number one thing I am asked about. It is a huge part of my playing style and something that I think should be part of every players arsenal.
First a little history. Finger tapping on the finger board goes as far back as the fifties/sixties with Jazz great George Van Epp and Barney Kessel. In the seventies with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)and Steve Hackett (Yes). As we all know it changed for rock guitar with Mr. Eddie Van Halen. Eruption influenced every single guitar after that. It made you want to be a shredder and a showman or it made you want to be a different kind of player.
Then of course it grew and expanded, Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) eight finger on a single string tapping. Steve Lynch (Autograph) and Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson GIT) all eight fingers on all of the strings in many different combos. Lets not forget about Stanley Jordan and the Godfather of the acoustic tapping craze Michael Hedges.
I started tapping because of Eddie, but really expanded on it because of Steve Lynch, Michael Hedges and Allan Holdsworth. I know Allan is not a big tapper, for me hearing the wide intervals and fluid horn like touch made me want to expand on that approach.
Now the technique, on paper its simple TAP/PULL OFF/HAMMER ON/TAP. Sounds easy right? It came be, the trick is to be even in volume and tone and it must be clean!
Many players use some sort of mute (hair tie,string mute (Jennifer Batten’s website sell em). There is no shame in this Greg Howe and Guthrie Govan slide it back and forth over the nut while they play. I have a Gruvgear (www.gruvgear.com) that I use in the studio.
To master this technique start with the Eddie version (as I like to call it) pick a three note arpeggio (lets use C,E,G) play C and E with you left hand and G with your right. Give it a triplet feel. As always start slow and make it perfect (remember build muscle memory).
Next is multiple fingers on one string. Get a hair tie or something similar to mute the open string noise until you get comfortable with this technique. Start out slow and even hammer on with the left hand (lets us finger pattern 1,2,4 make sure to us your pinkie) then match that same pattern on the same string. You will work the pattern in both directions, make sure to palm mute the other strings and work hard to get even volume and tone.
Next is 6 or 8 finger tapping. I use this for wide intervals and octave displacement type tapping licks (this is a big part of my LIVE guitar solo). You’ll take the same approach as the paragraph above. I call this modal tapping. Knowing your theory can really help you expand your licks here.
Please make this part of your musically vocabulary and not a trick that you crowbar into a song to show.
I’m only scratching the surface of tapping. This will be covered in detail on the video page!
To see still examples of the above technique go to my photo album (on Facebook) title tapping!