Beginner Guitar Tapping Guitar Licks – Easy 2-Hand Tapping Guitar Licks
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In this beginner guitar tapping article, I’ll give you a very simple (but actionable) way to learn 2-hand tapping on guitar.
I’ll show you simple finger tapping guitar licks that you can use in your lead guitar licks and solos starting today.
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… but once you understand a few simple principles for doing tapping on guitar, they become easy.
And as you’ll see:
You don’t need to practice tapping on guitar for 8 hours per day to play 2-hand tapping guitar licks like your favorite players, either.
Ready to start?
Take the first step.
Watch this beginner fret tapping on guitar video to discover the best way to practice tapping on guitar:
Now that you know the basics of fret tapping on guitar, here are 5 slightly more advanced guitar tapping ideas that help you play 2-hand tapping guitar licks like the pros:
Guitar Tapping Tip 1: Practice Sweep Tapping
Sweep picking is cool. Finger tapping on guitar is cool. But ‘sweep tapping’ is cooler still!
How does this guitar tapping variation work?
Simple: you play any arpeggio (using sweep picking) and add another note on top of the arpeggio using fret tapping on guitar.
Note: “on top” means on the thinnest string of your guitar.
Here is a demonstration of this finger tapping variation:
Note: when you add finger tapping on guitar to sweep picking, avoid distorting the rhythm of the notes.
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What does it mean to distort rhythm?
It means taking one of your 2-hand tapping guitar licks (or arpeggio licks) that ought to be played in 16th notes (or triplets), but playing its hammer ons, pull offs or fret tapping on guitar) faster than the other notes.
There are 2 problems with this:
1. It makes your playing sound bad.
2. It’s much harder to speed up 2-hand tapping guitar licks where some notes are faster than others (especially if the rhythm of the notes is not controlled).
Good news is: this is very easy to fix.
Simply practice with a metronome and focus on making all notes last the same length (including hammer ons, pull offs and finger tapping notes).
Question: “Tom Hess, what’s the best way to transition from sweep picking into guitar tapping during fast 2-hand tapping guitar licks?”
Answer: Think like a slacker! No, this doesn't mean “be lazy”. It means: look for ways to make your playing (and transitions between sweep picking and finger tapping on guitar) feel easier.
So, in the case of sweep fret tapping on guitar…
…simply start moving your picking hand (the one you’ll be doing guitar tapping with) earlier to the fret you’ll be tapping on.
This makes it much easier to switch from sweep picking to fret tapping on guitar cleanly, fast and in time. (And then just as easily switch back from playing 2-hand tapping guitar licks back to sweep picking.)
Guitar Tapping Tip 2: Do Double Tapping In Your 2-Hand Tapping Guitar Licks
What is double tapping on guitar? It’s just like it sounds. You play the fret tapping on guitar effect two times on each note. Like this, for example:
As you can see, the finger doing the fret tapping on guitar taps the note two times. Hence – the name: double finger tapping on guitar.
What are the benefits of doing 2-hand tapping guitar licks with double tapping?
For one thing: double finger picking is easy for your hands to play (and easy to build speed with).
Secondly, double tapping sounds very aggressive rhythmically. This creates an interesting break in the pattern that catches your listener’s attention more than regular 2-hand tapping guitar licks do.
What does it mean to “create a break in the pattern”?
It means that when you do tapping on guitar in the normal way (where fret tapping on guitar happens only once per note), you set up an expectation (a pattern) in your listener’s mind.
The listener expects guitar tapping to occur at specific time intervals. So, when you break this pattern in your 2-hand tapping guitar licks by doing double fret tapping on guitar, this diverts the expectation you established and builds musical tension.
You can do the same with other guitar techniques too (not only with tapping on guitar). For example: you can create a musical break in the pattern using simple scale sequences (where you pick every note and don’t do any guitar tappingOne of my favorite ways to create this break in the pattern is withing sweep picking arpeggios. Watch this video and I’ll show you how:
All that said, remember:
Think of double fret tapping like musical spice – use it sparingly (but don’t overdo it) in your 2-hand tapping guitar licks.
Guitar Tapping Tip 3: Vibrato Tapping
Believe it or not, 2-hand tapping guitar licks are not just for playing guitar fast. You can also do finger tapping on guitar to play awesome melodic guitar licks.
How? By combining fret tapping on guitar with vibrato.
Here are the simple steps for playing tapped guitar vibrato in your 2-hand tapping guitar licks:
Play any note on guitar with your fretting hand.
Tap any note that is higher in pitch with your picking hand. Make sure that the note you do fret tapping on is in the key you are playing!
Apply guitar vibrato with your fretting hand (NOT your picking/tapping hand!).
This produces the tapped vibrato sound.
Here is an example:
Question: “Tom Hess, I hear a lot of string noise from the lower and higher strings when doing finger tapping with vibrato. How can I solve this?”
Answer: Control string noise during vibrato tapping by using your picking hand’s thumb (for the thicker strings) and the fretting hand index finger for the thinner strings. This helps you achieve reliable excess string noise muting when you do tapping on guitar.
Bonus vibrato tapping tips:
Make sure your vibrato is fully in tune. Remember that vibrato is simply a series of bends applied to a note. So, before you do vibrato, get clear on how wide your vibrato will be (in other words: what note you’ll bend the vibrato up to).
Then bend the vibrato all the way up towards that pitch when you combine vibrato with fret tapping on guitar.
And if you can’t do vibrato tapping right away?
Then practice vibrato in isolation before integrating it with your 2-hand tapping guitar licks.
Watch this video to see the best way to practice to master guitar vibrato (that’ll help you with doing vibrato finger tapping later):
Guitar Tapping Tip 4: Improve Your Fretting Hand Legato To Make Your 2-Hand Tapping Guitar Licks Sound Better
Simply put: the stronger your legato is, the better your guitar tapping will sound.
That’s because fret tapping is, essentially, all about legato. (Hammer ons and pull offs with both your fretting hand and your picking (finger tapping) hand.)Here are some ways to make your legato (and by extension – your fret tapping) sound better:
Idea #1: Do pull offs the right way.
The proper motion for pull offs when you do legato (or play 2-hand tapping guitar licks) is to pull the finger DOWN off the string. The finger should almost pluck the string like a guitar pick would. That is what creates a loud and articulate pull off (that also makes your fret tapping on guitar sound a lot better).
Idea #2: Do pull offs fast, no matter how fast or how slowly you are playing the notes of your legato phrases (or fret tapping guitar ideas).
The speed of the motions has nothing to do with the duration of the notes. You can play very slow notes (that ring out for a long time) in your finger tapping (or legato) licks but make very fast and precise motions to play them. Or you can play those same “slow” notes in your 2-hand tapping guitar licks and make very sloppy, slow and lazy motions to play them.
The former makes it possible to do finger tapping (and legato) fast and clean. The latter – creates guitar speed plateaus that makes it impossible to do fast tapping on guitar.
Idea #3: Control excess muscle tension (not only in your fret tapping hand, but in your entire body too).
One of the best ways to do this is by using a tension audit. What’s a tension audit?
It’s where you go through all parts of your body – one by one – and let go of tension in them as you play your legato licks (or 2-hand tapping guitar licks).
Here is a video demonstration of this process in action:
Idea #4: Practice legato (and finger tapping) unplugged.
Yes, like it sounds – spend some time practicing 2-hand tapping on guitar without an amp.
Why practice legato (and 2-hand tapping guitar licks) unplugged?
Simple: when you play fret tapping without an amp, you build a lot of strength in your fretting hand. This makes it a lot easier to play 2-hand tapping guitar licks fast and clean with distortion. (Since you’ll only be using a fraction of the strength in your fingers.)
Question: “But Tom Hess, doesn't doing tapping on guitar unplugged lead to excess muscle tension?”
Answer: Not if you do it right. It doesn't matter how much tension you use to play notes ‘as long as’ you relax it in between notes (and do tension audit to relax the rest of your body as you play fret tapping on guitar.
Guitar Tapping Tip 5: Work On Your Scale And Arpeggio Visualization
To play fret tapping guitar licks all over the guitar neck, you need to practice visualizing scales and arpeggios horizontally.
That means: seeing how scales and arpeggios lay out from the 1st fret to the highest fret on one string.
This makes it easy to not only create 2-hand tapping guitar licks, but also use fret tapping in improvising and soloing.
Spend some time practicing all scales you know on one string at a time. The good news is: one-string scale (and arpeggio) fingerings are very easy to memorize (and play 2-hand tapping guitar licks with).
That’s because one-string scale and arpeggio fingerings don’t change from string to string.
Tip: you can practice visualizing scales and arpeggios horizontally when you are away from the guitar (such as while driving your car, while taking a shower, while falling asleep, etc.)
Warning: Don’t Over-Practice Fret Tapping
As cool as finger tapping on guitar is, be careful of how much of your practice time you spend on this technique. That’s because fret tapping has a very low level of transferability to other guitar techniques. In other words: getting better at fret tapping on guitar doesn't make you better at any of the other guitar techniques (such as rhythm guitar, string skipping, directional picking, phrasing, etc.).
So, if your guitar practice time is limited, focus more on the guitar techniques (and musical skills) that have the highest level of musical transferability. And focus less on other techniques (that includes 2-hand tapping on guitar).You now know how to practice finger tapping on guitar on guitar. The next step is to go beyond relying on 2-hand tapping guitar licks and learn to double your guitar speed with ALL techniques. I can show you how in my free eGuide: Double Your Guitar Speed While Cutting Your Practice Time In Half. Download it today and discover lead guitar speed building secrets most guitarists will never know.
Ready to achieve real guitar playing breakthroughs? Learn how by taking lead guitar online guitar lessons.
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