Lesson 9 - Two-Handed Tapping

A thumbnail - performing two-nanded tapping

Two-handed tapping is a method of guitar playing where you perform hammer on and pull off technique with the fingers of both hands, it suits especially well for repeatedly played phrases allowing to achieve really speedy results without too much practice.

To start, tap any string on the fingerboard using the finger of the picking hand. I usually use my middle finger because the thumb and the index finger usually hold the plectrum, this way I can switch from tapping to picking any time.

Now let's use both your hands to play a very simple tapping phrase:

Introductory Guitar Tapping Lick

In guitar tablatures a '+' symbol or 'T' character above the lines, or a circle around the number in the fingering area or around a fret number, can be used to indicate a note to be played by tapping it with the finger of the picking hand.

Watch me playing it:
Here are the steps:
  1. Press the 10th fret using your 1st finger of the fretting hand - it is a preparational step, you don't play it now.
  2. Tap the string at the 17th fret with your tapping finger of the picking hand.
  3. After that pull this finger off the string. It should make the note we're "prepared" in the 1st step ring.
  4. Next perform the hammer on at the 12th fret with the 3rd finger of the fretting hand.

Playing things like this repeatedly is a basic usage of tapping.

You do not have to release the 1st finger at the 10th fret during the loop.

if you play this progression 4 times on the 2nd string and another 4 times on the 3rd, you'll get a pretty cool phrase.

Introductory Guitar Tapping Lick

I played it with triplet notes - 3 notes per beat.

When you feel like you got on with the idea of tapping, move on and enjoy the following licks.

Tapping Licks

Lick 1

Guitar tablature for a tapping lick 1
triplet notes

First times moving the fretting hand along the fretboard can be challenging. When the picking hand finger taps the fret the other hand will have a bit of time to switch its position.

Lick 2

In this lick the fretting hand stands at the same position while the other hand moves about the fingerboard.

Guitar tablature for a tapping lick 2
triplet rhythm

Lick 3

Guitar tablature for a tapping lick 3

I played it quite quickly, don't rush playing that fast right from the start, it's safer for your hands to begin with a comfortable pace and gradually increase it.

While practicing tapping you might get carried away with the speed too far, playing too fast will not necessarily make your music more musical, and in some cases more like noise.