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Mastering a Multi-Fingered Tapping Technique

From Hal Leonard Guitar Method Guitar Techniques
Eight notes in a major scale from root through octave, and eight fingers on two human hands (not including thumbs)—coincidence? Back in the mid ’80s, Steve Lynch (Autograph) and Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) made a lot of noise—and notes—via their amazing eight-finger tapping techniques. Though the moniker was more symbolic than definitive, as all eight fingers were rarely used in a single line, both players routinely recruited five or six fingers to play their legendary legato lines.

To perform multi-finger tapping, you’ll first need to “lose” your pick. If you have a pick holder on your guitar or mic stand, that will work fine. Otherwise, you can do it the old-fashioned way—put it in your mouth (please don’t choke!). Your fret hand is positioned normally, but your pick hand should be above the neck, opposite the fret hand. In this manner, you can tap onto the strings piano-style with your right hand. You’ll want to place your pick-hand thumb on the top edge of the neck, slightly toward the underside, to offer your hand support and stability.

Let’s start with a D major arpeggio that uses an open string (D) and two fingers from each hand. Concentrate on achieving equal volume with each hammer-on and pull-off:


Now, let’s incorporate some scale tones and extend the lines to require three and four fingers from the pick hand. Remember, your attacks should be balanced, and it’s going to take some practice to get that high E note to ring with authority when tapping with your pick-hand pinky finger. Take it slow and work hard to keep it clean. Once you’ve got this example down, try switching to other strings or incorporating this type of line into a normally picked solo.


Chordal Tapping
Tapping is quite effective for producing chords as well. Jazz maestro Stanley Jordan is the king of the chordal tapping, and one of the reasons his music is so interesting is the pianistic, wide-interval voicings he can achieve by playing chords in this manner.

As with other tapping techniques, the chordal tapping technique is performed with pick-hand hammer-ons. Whereas usually you hammer onto a single string, the chordal tapping technique requires you to attack several strings, either at once, or in an arpeggiated fashion.

Typically, any notes located toward the nut will be hammered on with your fret hand, and the notes toward the bridge will be hammered with your pick hand. A key concern in executing this type of attack is that you need to be mindful of accidental muting. Since you may have anywhere between three and six strings ringing at once, you must be quite precise in your attack. Let’s start with some triads and dominant chords.


Now, let’s syncopate the rhythm a little bit to create the illusion of two instruments (bass and guitar) playing at the same time.

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