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How to Tap on Acoustic & Electric Guitar

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Ever tried to tap dance?

Me neither.

But I have tried tapping on guitar and think it sounds epic!

It makes people go Woahhhhh and isn’t even that difficult.

So today I’ll be going over how to tap da-… I mean tap on acoustic and electric guitar so that you can get with your crush.

Let’s rock.

The Perfect Tapping Technique

You’ll see loads of people tap in a bunch of different ways.

So theoretically, there isn’t really a correct way to tap.

But there is one way of doing things that will take you through the thick, the thin and the not so thin…

And it starts with using your middle finger instead of your index finger to do the tapping.

This means you don’t have to move your pick or quickly shift it to a different finger to allow yourself to tap.

Many people will still just throw their guitar pick into the crowd, knock someone out with it by accident and tap with their index finger instead.

And that’s fine too if you like losing picks or never use one.

But I quite like my picks, so I’m more about the middle finger life.

The second step is to have your palm muting all the other strings above the string you’re tapping.

Like this:

Palm muting whilst tapping
This is how I would position my hand if I was tapping the high E string

This will keep all your tapping shreds sounding squeaky clean and polished.

And also by resting your palm on the strings, you’re giving yourself a nice, cosy anchor point to tap from.

As a whole, this ready-to-tap position should look like this:

Tapping position all together

I’m also wrapping my spare ring and pinkie fingers round the neck for balance here. They aren’t doing anything else important, so why not?

And remember, if you want to use your index finger to tap instead, then all these same concepts apply. But you’ll also have a spare thumb that you can grip the other side of the neck with too, for even more balance.

So how about actually tapping?

Well, you want to think of tapping as just doing hammer-ons and pull-offs with a finger on your picking hand.

So that means, hammer your middle finger down hard onto a note, and then pull/flick it upwards towards your palm to do the pull-off.

Flicking upwards is key because you already have all the upward strings muted.

And that means you won’t get any excess string clanging like you would if you flicked downwards into strings you don’t have muted.

Simple maths, bro.

And yup, I’m English so maths is plural.

Epic Tips for Better Tapping

When practising learning to tap on electric and acoustic guitar, it’s important that you don’t forget about the left hand.

Normally, tapping licks will include hammer-ons and pull-offs in the left hand too.

And it won’t matter how strong and clear you get your tapping sounding if the fretting hand is weak.

So Epic Tip No.1 to practice strengthening the left hand, stop tapping with your picking hand, and just play the fretting hand part of the lick you’re trying to learn (I’ll give you some licks in a moment).

Hammer-on and pull-off with your fretting hand for as long as physically can. You’re gonna feel the burrrrnnn, and that’s when you know you’re doing it right.

Within a week or two of doing this a few minutes a day, those legato notes will be sounding on point.

Epic Tip No.2 is when practising tapping licks, you’ll also want to ask your good buddy gain to help you out.

Turning up the gain on your amp will just make all those legato notes sound louder and more angrier.

Obviously this is easy enough on an electric guitar or electro-acoustic.

But if you’re learning to tap on a standard acoustic, then you’ll just have to hammer on and pull-off a bit harder to make up for it.

Finally, Epic Tip No.3 is to not practice too much in the beginning!

Your tapping finger literally has less crust on it than bread with the crust cut off right now, so it’ll take time for that to build up.

The last thing you want is giving yourself a blister and not being able to tap again for another week.

Epic Tapping Licks to Practice

Get good at some of these, and you’ll become known as the guitar king in your town.

Everyone will love you, and it’ll all be thanks to me. Woo!

Now, remember everything we’ve talked about when practising these:

  • Palm mute the strings above the one you’re tapping
  • Tap with your middle finger
  • Flick upwards into the muted strings
  • Keep your fretting hand strong

And then you’ll be good to go with stuff like this:

Tapping shred lick 1

Hell yeah! Try and tell me that that doesn’t sound fricking epic.

*Don’t actually tell me if you don’t think it sounds fricking epic.

It’s basically a repeated pattern, so as soon as you have the first pattern down, the rest is up for grabs.

But maybe you fancy some descending pentatonic tapping instead:

Tapping shred lick 2

And who wouldn’t love that?

Or maybe you just want to learn a lick that even I can’t play so that you can boast that you’re better than me:

Tapping shred lick 3

String skipping, slides, hammer-ons from nowhere, this lick has it all.

If you have a strong desire to put yourself through pain, then this is the lick for you!

But maybe you just want to learn a song with some great tapping in practical use.

A few great ones are:

So feel free to knock yourself out with some of those.

Wrapping It Up

Boom! You officially now know how to tap on electric and acoustic guitar like a boss.

As I said earlier, you’ll see people tapping in all sorts of wacky ways.

But this technique won’t let you down when getting into the tap-tap groove.

And next time you’re on the danceflo-… I mean, stage. People will be blown away by your tap danci-… I mean tapping skills.

Why do I keep doing that?

Anyway, I’ve been Sam Olverson,

Have fun tapping!

P.S. If you want to learn how to sweep pick cleanly for beginners, and reach crazy fast speeds, then click here to view my post on that.


Sam is a guitar teacher and educator, with his main goal being to give people advice that they can truly rely on. He strives to teach through modern and effective techniques that actually provide results. Getting good at guitar was always his dream, and this blog outlines the steps he took to achieve total guitar freedom from scratch.

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