iBreatheMusic.com Online Music Lessons
  The Pulse - iBreatheMusic's official newsletter
Online Articles: 188
Article Browser
Forum Members 26,182
Join Us - Take Part
Pulse Subscribers 2046
The Pulse Archive

Tapping Part 1


Disclaimer 1: All video-files have been encoded with a recent DivX-Codec. All files are .avis, and if you do have trouble playing them back, you might wanna consider downloading and installing (it's free) the most recent DivX-codec at www.divx.com)

There it is...
Whew... did this one take a while or what?
It's been requested a lot in the forums, and some people who know me or are familiar with my playing may be a quite confused why I hadn't written anything up until now since tapping is an integral part of my style.

I don't know why I didn't get to it yet... maybe it's because, just like picking etc., tapping is actually a huge topic. I am sure some people think that there isn't much you can do with it other than playing "Eruption"-style stuff. But actually, the technique is very diverse and you can create a lot of sounds and cool effects with it. I'll get into that later on, as I assume this will turn into a small series.

This time, I'd like to focus on the basics, essential licks and exercises, and some different basic approaches. First, of course, it's disclaimer-time...

Disclaimer 2: The video clips
I'd like to point out that basically, the cam I used to shoot these video clips is not exactly high quality. Also, I am no wiz when it comes to editing videos, so I guess the quality is pretty sub-par. The frame rate ain't too great anyway, and in the process of turning the clips into smaller size AVIs (in order to keep the file size low), it might have lost a bit more detail still.

I saw some discussions about some video clips by players on their website which apparently were edited to make the player appear to be playing faster than he actually was able to. If you listen to the sound of the video, you'll notice that none of this stuff is face-burning speed or anything like that.

The licks are rather basic, and I added clips to hopefully make it easier to understand how to do them, and because of my webcam and my lack of skills regarding editing videos, they might not look too great.

Disclaimer 3: Difficulty
This article will probably be the start of a mini series. My intention is to introduce people to the technique, demonstrate how it's done and how to develop interesting licks etc.

So the exercises in this article will all be rather basic. Some of them might still be challenging, but of course, I'll begin with simple stuff. However, you might find some ideas that you can take and develop into something more sophisticated or difficult. That way, you can make it as hard as you want. So I hope this will be interesting to people who can already tap too.

With that outta the way, let's talk some history...

In the 80s (and without a doubt, in the 90s as well) there have been endless discussions about who invented the tapping technique etc. Some claim that guys like Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Brian May (Queen... check out the end of the "Bohemian Rhapsody" video) and Harvey Mandel have used it way before Eddie Van Halen did.

However, I am not sure whether it really matters, or whether we'll ever be able to tell. I think what DOES matter is that Mr. Van Halen was the player who really used it in a very reckless way and thereby made it that popular. I know for a fact that back then (late 70s), people were completely blown away and stunned when they first heard "Eruption" (a 2 min guitar solo from Van Halen's debut album). Some guy from GP magazine said that back then, they had no clue whatsoever how this was done... whether it was an overdub, a guitar, speed-editing or whatever. It took quite a while before people eventually figured it out.

I heard that Eddie used to turn around when doing tapping live, so people wouldn't see exactly what was going on. At some point, he agreed to do a very thorough interview and lesson with the GP magazine, and for the first time explained how he did it. I think Steve Vai added some transcriptions to that lesson... and of course, he later became rather popular and did some amazing tapping stuff as well.

Even though Eddie invented way more techniques (or made them popular) I think most people associate him with tapping, and he's been using it a lot. Once people had figured out how it was done, they started to integrate it into their playing. Some players went ahead and took the technique to whole new levels. Steve Lynch (Autograph) worked on using more than one finger of the right hand to tap, and did a very interesting video on that, which in turn inspired Jennifer Batten (who also had learned about tapping stuff by Dave Celentano).

She, in turn, went and did some truly amazing stuff herself, using the technique for some chordal things, or for her jaw-dropping version of the "Flight Of The Bumblebee".

Stanley Jordan has his guitars set up so that "normal" playing is pretty much impossible (the strings are REALLY low) and uses tapping for both melodies and chords.

Other players who did some very cool stuff with tapping were (among others) Joe Satriani ("Midnight", "A Day At The Beach", "New Blues", "Satch Boogie"...), Greg Howe (who incorporates tapped notes into his playing seamlessly... I'll get to that later. By the way, he learned how to play the end of Eruption withOUT tapping, almost up to speed. Then, he eventually saw Eddie live and figured out how tapping works), Nuno Bettencourt, George Lynch, Darren Housholder amo.

They took Eddie's influence and developed the technique even further, using it to get some very unusual sounds or play stuff that couldn't be played any other way You'll see that there's more to the technique than just playing "Eruption" style lines or fast runs.

My way of thinking >>