Finger Tapping Lessons

Finger Tapping is a playing technique generally associated with the electric guitar, although the technique may be performed on almost any stringed instrument. There are two main methods of tapping: one-handed or 'ordinary' tapping, and two-handed tapping.

It may be considered an extended technique, in that it is executed by using the fingers going in one hand to 'tap' the strings against the fingerboard, thus sounding legato notes, often in tightly synchronized conjunction with the other hand. Hence,finger tapping usually incorporates pull-offs or hammer-ons as well, whereby the fingers of the left hand play a sequence of notes in synchronization with the tapping hand. For example, a right-handed guitarist might hammer down on fret twelve with the index finger of the right hand and, in the motion of removing that finger, pluck the same string already fretted at the eighth fret by the little finger of his/her left hand. This finger would be removed in the same way, pulling off to the fifth fret. Thus the three notes (E, C and A) are played in quick succession at relative ease to the player.


The Chapman Stick is an instrument built primarily for finger tapping, and is based on the Free Hands two-handed tapping method invented in 1969 by Emmett Chapman where each hand approaches the fretboard with the fingers aligned parallel to the frets.

The Hamatar, Mobius Megatar, Box Guitar, and Solene instruments are other instruments designed for the same method, and the Bunker Touch-Guitar is designed for the two-necked tapping technique developed by Dave Bunker in 1958, but with an elbow rest to hold the right arm in the conventional guitar position. The NS/Stick and Warr guitars are also built for finger tapping, though not exclusively. The harpejji is a tapping instrument which is played on a stand, like a keyboard, with fingers typically parallel to the strings rather than perpendicular. All of these instruments use lower string tension and low action to increase the string's sensitivity to lighter tapping.


Some guitarists may choose to tap using the sharp edge of their pick instead of fingers to produce a faster, more rigid flurry of notes in a style closer to that of trilling (see pick tapping