Making Music with Marshall


Posted: 2 August 2022

You’ve got the intricacies of making music down, and have a wide range of playing techniques that you can incorporate into your playing. But when the time comes to let rip and really show off with a face melting solo, what do you pull out of the bag? It’s time you learnt how to tap.

Tapping lets you crank up the speed in your playing and add some variety to your licks. It’s a technique that’s sometimes used in riffs, like in Midnight by Joe Satriani, but is most commonly associated with guitar solos. Some of the best known examples of tapping are the solo in Metallica’s One, the intro solo in Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher, and Aerodynamic by Daft Punk. Tapping is even used in the intro to the 90s Power Rangers TV Show, which we here at Marshall firmly believe is the best TV show theme tune of all time… Go on. Give it a listen and tell us we’re wrong.

But what exactly is tapping? Well, the name is quite explanatory. You’re essentially using either hand to tap the strings against the fretboard. By tapping at different points along the fretboard and incorporating pull-offs and hammer ons you can achieve a consistent tone. Using this technique you can even imitate playing piano.

Tapping is not a particularly difficult technique to learn, but increasing the speed and mastering two handed tapping takes plenty of practice.

Your next step is to introduce additional strings. Stick to the same methodology as above and incorporate notes from your chosen scale. Add some arpeggios in too. You won’t nail it each time, but start slowly and as your finger strength and accuracy improves you will become much more consistent.

Not sounding quite right?

One issue you might run into when tapping is that your volume drops. If this is the case you should work on your technique - Try to keep the string vibrating with quick and accurate tapping and flicking the string as you release the note. The stronger you are at executing hammer ons and pull offs, the better you will be at consistent tapping. You may also wish to use a compressor for a more even tone.

Gain can also hide some of your weaknesses when it comes to tapping, so we would recommend practising with a clean tone and no effects. Keep in mind there are all sorts of guitarists who tap with a clean tone or even on acoustic guitars. Tapping even dates back to the 1700’s where there are instances of players tapping on violins. If you can sound great with no additional tonal support, then by the time you pull out an overdriven solo, you will sound incredible.

To get you inspired, check out our articles on Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Jennifer Batten; both of whom are well regarded for their use of tapping.