Learn Tapping with Chris Zoupa

Shred maestro Chris Zoupa teaches many different ways to learn tapping technique

Learn Tapping with Chris Zoupa

Since its popularisation by Eddie Van Halen in the 1980s, the introduction of finger tapping (sometimes referred to by dorks and squares as “right handed hammer ons”) has really changed the way we think about the instrument. A once large fretting hand stretch or impossible position shift can be easily rectified with a cheeky tap. Things like single string 3 note arpeggio that was once near impossible to execute can now be played effortlessly and at lightning speed.

In this chapter, we’ll look at many different ways to learn tapping technique. We’ll be mainly focusing on diatonic and exotic scales, as well as the pentatonics and a few cheeky arpeggios.

Firstly, we’ll just concentrate on simple tap patterns to get you comfortable with the technique and iron out any potential kinks before we venture into ridiculum. The first tap lick is played entire on 1 string and uses 3 notes ‘E’, ‘G’ and ‘A’ from the ‘A’ minor pentatonic. The tapped notes are signified by the ‘T’ above the tabbed numbers.

Learn Tapping Example 1


In a similar vein to the textbook legato, your initial tap needs to be treated like a hammer on. It needs to be stern and have some force to it in order to create a passable sound. You’ll also need to dig or pluck the string with the tapping finger on the way out of the tap, in order for the pulled off notes behind the tap to have a decent attack and volume.

Now that we have the basic principles of tapping from the 1 string exercise, let’s try a 6 string descending ‘A’ minor pentatonic run from position 1, but using tapped notes from position 2.

Learn Tapping Example 2

You may initially find changing strings or establishing a new string with a tap to feel a little strange, but it does get easier and you will start to see multiple string tapping creeping into your playing the more you practice it, especially if you enjoy the sound it creates!

Lastly, I want us to combine tapping with rolling legato used in an ‘A’ Aeolian run. This is a great way to get 4 note per string patterns without have massive-stretchy- man hands.

Learn Tapping Example 3

To learn tapping is a technique to just quickly extended legato the same you would on a piano, in that if you run out of notes on one hands reach, you can just swap to the other.

Other things to think about are tapping direction on tappedpulloffs and finger choice. I know for a fact Steve Vai uses his middle finger to tap, whereas Eddie Van Halen and myself use or index/pointer finger. The direction of tapping on the tap pull off might work better for you pulling into your hand or pulling out from the guitar towards the floor. There is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to experimentation and what feels right for you!

Chris Zoupa’s book, Ultimate Shred Machine is out now.