Guitar Tapping Basics for Beginners (Finger Tapping Exercises)

Guitar Tapping Basics

Are you having a hard time with guitar tapping?

While it may not be the easiest technique to master, it’s actually not too hard.

I believe that guitar tapping will be pretty easy for you by the time you’re done with this guide.

On top of this, guitar tapping will make you sound awesome, and you’ll look like a pro!

Let’s dive into these guitar tapping basics for beginners, so you can start shredding!

What is guitar finger tapping?

Guitar tapping is the act of using a finger, or multiple fingers from your picking hand to hammer on to the fretboard. In this lesson we will focus on using a single finger on your picking hand, the middle finger.

Tapping will allow you to play music that would normally be far more difficult if you were attempting to play with just your fretting hand.

And because of this, tapping is essential to learn, especially in rock and metal.

How to properly tap a guitar

Tapping on guitar is essentially just a hammer-on that you perform with your picking hand. You want to “tap”/hammer-on to the note using your picking hand, hold that note out, then use your tapping finger to pull down on the string, which is similar to a pull-off.

What finger should you tap with guitar?

Most guitarists tend to veer towards the 1st (index) or 2nd (middle) finger when tapping. I personally suggest that you use your 2nd finger, as this will allow you to continue holding your guitar pick with the thumb and index fingers.

How do you get a good tapping tone?

You want your tapping to be clean, so I suggest practicing on a clean tone with little to no effects. Practicing on the clean tone will allow you to hear your mistakes, and correct them.

From there you can move onto a tone with gain, but be careful. You don’t want the gain to overwhelm the sound of your tapping. I suggest tapping on a tone that has low-medium volumes of gain.

After you’ve learned how to tap cleanly, you can start to add effects to your tapping, and have some fun with it! Reverb and delay are some popular affects for guitar tapping.

Guitar Tapping Tablature/Notation

As shown in the lick below, most guitar tablature will use a “T” above the note that needs to be tapped.

From there you will see tab symbols for hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Beginner Tapping Lick 1 A Minor Arpeggio 1

Guitar Tapping Licks

Guitar Tapping Lick #1

This lick is an A Minor tapping arpeggio.

Guitar Tapping Lick #2

In this tapping lick we’ll be moving up the A Minor Pentatonic Scale on the High E string!

Guitar Tapping Lick #3

Here you are looking at 4 tapping arpeggios on the High E String with the root note A. In order they are:

  • Diminished (5-8-11)
  • Minor (5-8-12)
  • Major (5-9-12)
  • Augmented (5-9-13)

FAQS About Guitar Tapping Basics

Is guitar tapping easy?

Guitar tapping is arguably easy, as long as you are practicing properly. As a matter of fact, most things on guitar can be pretty easy when you have high quality practice sessions.

How do you know where to tap on the guitar?

You want tap on the fret itself, and you want to do this using your index or middle finger on your picking hand.

Most tapping licks are created based off of ideas that come from scales, or from arpeggios. Once you understand the notes in a specific scale or arpeggio, then you will have a better understanding of where to tap on the guitar, and why you are tapping that note.

Did Van Halen invent tapping?

While Eddie Van Halen did not invent tapping on the guitar, he definitely popularized the technique!

Here is an article that goes more in depth on the subject:

What is the theory behind tapping?

The theory behind tapping on guitar is a technique-based theory.

While you can access notes in a tapping lick using the fretting hand alone, such as in a traditionally arpeggiated chord, tapping can make these licks more accessible, and move the licks onto a single string.

Aside from this, sometimes tapping is just the ideal solution to a technical problem for the left hand. Always remember that guitar techniques are just tools that allow you to execute/play your music.

You can learn more about guitar techniques with these articles:

What are Guitar Picking Techniques? Picking Technique Explained

11 Essential Lead Guitar Techniques

How can I improve my tapping?

You can improve your tapping on the guitar by practicing your tapping regularly. However, you must be practicing properly in order to see efficient results. Bad practice leads to bad technique.

Some other tips for improving tapping are:

  • Clip your nails on your tapping hand
  • Lower the action on your instrument
  • Use a noise gate to eliminate excess noise
  • Use a string dampener to eliminate the sounds of open strings

Is low action better for tapping?

In my experience lower action is better for tapping. However, properly executing/practicing your tapping technique will be what determines how good your tapping is overall.

How do you tap fast on a guitar?

You tap fast on a guitar by using a guitar pick to tap instead of a finger on your picking hand.

A popular example of tapping fast is the tapping section in Joe Satriani’s song “Surfing with The Alien“.

Joe Satriani’s Surfing with The Alien, a song with fast tapping. The tapping starts at 1:08

Tapping Basics Conclusion

Guitar tapping basics are honestly really easy to get down.

Just remember that consistent, quality practice will lead to the best results.

And if you’re having a hard time with developing your tapping technique, then consult a guitar instructor, or make a friend who knows how to tap on guitar!

And last but not least, rock on!