Tapping For Speed
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Tapping For Speed

If high speed lead is what you\'re after, go for finger tapping. See the steps here.

If it's high speed lead work you're after, finger tapping is a must. In effect, it's essentially an extension of the standard hammering and pulling effects described in my previous article, "Expressive Effects". ( I'm sorry because i don't know how to link my previous article with this one. Help would be appreciated.) It became extremely popular in the mid-1980s - so much that it soon became a tired cliché. It's not viewed as just another technique that most decent players have as part of their armoury.

A Bit of History

Finger tapping (or "fret tapping" as it is sometimes known) draws on the single-note hammer-on/pull-off technique. The difference is that it also uses the fingers on the right hand to "tap" out notes along the finger board. The note sounds when it is pressed down against the fret.

It's first prime exponents were Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, who stunned their audiences by delivering solos at breakneck speed. Since then, most rock and metal players have at least experimented with the technique. Interestingly, although finger tapping became a prominent metal style in the 1980s, legendary US session man Harvey Mandel could be heard using the technique on jazz-funk instrumentals at least a decade earlier.

Get Tapping

The basic tapping technique works in much the same way as hammering on and pulling off - notes are hammered when moving up a scale and pulled off when moving down. The only real difference is that you are using additional fingers from your non-fretting hand. In these cases, the pull-off can be executed with a slight sideways pluck, to give extra volume for the next hammered note.

Here is an example for you to try out for yourself:

• Position the 1st finger of the left hand on the 7th fret of the string.

• Place the 1st finger of your right hand near to the 11th fret and pluck the note.

• With the note playing, hammer-on the 9th fret of the 1st string with the 3rd finger of the left hand.

• Pull-off the 11th fret by tapping the string the string alongside the fret and releasing the finger.

• Pull-off with the other two fingers in a similar manner.

Getting the most out of Effects

Would a guitar tapping solo be complete without effects? Definitely not! As a rock guitarist, you need to have a compressor and sustain guitar effects. Let's take a few moments out to discuss some sensible approaches to using electronic effects.

If you read guitar and technology magazines, you can't fail to notice the glossy adverts telling you how much you must buy the latest state-of-the-art processing. As tempting as this can be, it's always a good idea to step back and think carefully about how useful any new toy you buy is really going to be to the sound of your music. And effects can be costly, so you might also end up saving yourself some cash.

For a start, take great care with effects that are too gimmicky. Sounds that leap out of the speakers and scream "I am an Effect" are not usually versatile. And any effect that becomes fashionable will date.

If you do reach in to your wallet, when you first buy an effect spend a good deal of time working through all the possible sound permutations that its parameters will allow. Modern effects units are complex beasts, and they can sometimes generate noises that you might not have expected (or that were not even intended by the manufacturer).

Before you consider using it live or on a recording, get the novelty value out of the way. However new the sound, you will soon get used to it.

If you use effects pedals live, invest in a suitable transformer. They are cheap and will save you a fortune in batteries in the long run.

Buy or make some short patch-bay leads for linking effects. If you use regular-length guitar leads, you will find yourself with a mess of cables all over the stage or studio.

Finally, don't forget that a bad idea or performance is rarely turned around simply by adding an effect.

Thanks for reading!

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