While Eddie Van Halen may be the godfather of tapping, this doesn’t mean that tapping a guitarist only technique. In fact, some may argue that tapping sounds just as good, if not better, on a bass.
In this article, we are going to discuss the basics of the bass guitar tapping technique.
First off, you will need three things; your bass, an amp (to be sure you are hitting the notes properly) and a metronome. The metronome won’t be used until the end of our lesson, but it is best to be prepared regardless.
To begin, plug your bass in, and crank up your middle. This will make it so that you can actually hear what it is you are doing, and will make it easier for you to judge if you are in fact executing proper bass playing techniques.
Take your fretting hand, and fret the fifth fret of your A string. We are going to create a rudimentary tremolo tapping technique to start off.
Before you tap, it is best that you designate a tapping finger. Although you may think you pinky is an iron workhorse, it is best that you not choose the pinky, as the pinky bones are fragile and prone to injury.
Most bass players use their middle finger or forefinger. Whichever of the two you choose, the important thing is to erect your finger and keep it locked out. This will make it a strong tool when it comes to tapping.
Now with your chosen tapping hand, simply tap the twelfth fret of your A string, then release. Your tap should be the equivalent of a hammer on, only with your picking hand instead of your fretting hand. This means you should be putting force behind your tap.
When you release the note, pull off to the fretted note (in this case the fifth fret). The note should ring loud and clear. Repeat this technique multiple times, until you get the feel for the proper amount of pressure, and the proper release technique.
Once you are comfortable performing the tremolo tapping technique, the next step is to build a tapping lick. Take the ring finger of your fretting hand and fret the seventh fret of your G string. Then, fret the fifth fret of your G string with your forefinger.
Now, take your tapping finger and tap the twelfth fret of your G string. Pull off to the first fretted note (in this case the seventh fret) and then pulled off from the seventh note to the fifth, finally pulling off from the fifth to an open G.
The most important part of the bass guitar tapping technique is coordination; you want all of the note lengths to be open. This is because rapidly tapping the twelfth fret, unless in a tremolo technique, will set off the overall note values of your time signature.
Now that you know how to tap, the next step is to practice the technique for yourself. Take some time and try to construct your own tapping runs. Try playing a Major scale and tapping a higher octave. Set aside a block of time each day to perfect your technique and strengthen your tapping finger, and most of all, have fun doing it. Good luck!
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