Tapping on the Bass Guitar is a different technique from the guitar playing style most people associate but it will help you get quite a bit more sound out of your instrument and for some an easier style for playing the guitar.
Tapping has been used with stringed instruments for many decades and in the case of the violin, centuries. Other instances of tapping techniques have been recorded with the banjo and other acoustic instruments but it was not until the fifties that it became more popular with the guitar when jazz musicians used this technique. Later on rock guitarists like Steve Hackett from Genesis used it. Eddie Van Halen was also one of the musicians that made guitar tapping much more popular and was even at times thought to have invented this technique. From there many other famous guitarrists have tapped away.
Instead of playing just one note at a time, you can play as many notes at a time as you have strings. For more people this is four but some are playing six string basses which will allow for more complex sounds.
Tapping is simply pushing a string down so that it hits the fret and makes a sound. With enough strength in the fingers, any bass string can be pressed down on any fret to make the sound without have to pluck the string. Instead of plucking or stroking the string it is not unlike hitting the notes on a keyboard.
You can tap with one hand to get an extra note in while playing helping you gain speed since your other hand does not have to pluck. You can also use two handed tapping to be playing notes simultaneously with both the left and right hands.
Much of the time you can continue to play the bass lines with the left hand lower on the fretboard while playing more of a melody line high up on the fretboard with the right hand. Really the possibilities are endless if you use your imagination. Combining tapping with hammer ons and pull offs will make the sounds even more complex.
To do this technique you will need to follow a few tips.
- You will have to build strength in your fingers. It will be easier to start with a lighter gauge string.
- Your fingers will have to build calluses. At first the tips will hurt pressing down large strings so hard.
- You may have to lower the height of your strings if they are too high.
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