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Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Linear Tapping


When players think of two-hand tapping techniques, they most commonly associate them with the face-melting electric guitar solos produced by rock gods like Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and more. However, believe it or not, two-hand tapping was a technique that was first pioneered on acoustic instruments.


While its exact birth and inventor are somewhat contested, two-hand tapping techniques have been documented as being used in stringed instrument performance as far back as the late 1700s. Violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini is credited with being the father of the method and is said to have used various two-hand tapping techniques in his classical compositions. In 1932, multi-instrumentalist Roy Smeck, also known as “The Wizard of the Strings,” was captured using two-hand tapping techniques in a ukulele performance in the film, Club House Party. Italian guitarist, Vittorio Camardese performed two-hand tapping passages on television on a nylon string acoustic guitar in 1965. Today, two-hand tapping techniques are employed throughout a wide variety of styles and genres and across various instruments (both acoustic and electric).


What is two-hand tapping?

At this point, many of you may be wondering, “what is two-hand tapping?” Unlike most other stringed instrument plucking methods, two-hand tapping requires the player to use the fingertips of their "picking" hand to set a fretted string into vibration. This is different from the standard technique of fretting a string with the left hand and picking with the right (or the reverse if you’re left-handed). Tapping, in essence, utilizes a series of hammer-ons/pull-offs executed by both the picking hand and fretting hand. The picking hand begins by tapping the high note in a passage, then releases the string, allowing the note held by the fretting hand on the neck to ring out.


In this online acoustic guitar lesson, world-renowned acoustic guitar virtuoso and ArtistWorks fingerstyle guitar instructor, Andy McKee, teaches the basics of linear two-hand tapping on the steel string acoustic guitar. In addition to explaining the ins and outs of the method, he also provides a handful of helpful exercises so that you can begin incorporating two-hand tapping into your playing.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar from a master musician like Andy McKee? Try some free online acoustic guitar lessons now!


“Linear tapping was the first kind of two-hand tapping that I heard,” Andy explains. “I first heard Eddie Van Halen using this technique, and he immediately inspired me to want to learn to use it in my playing. It’s a great place to start when you’re learning to tap because it allows you to focus on producing a good tone and developing the required picking-hand precision needed to execute tapping techniques.”


Learning to two-hand tap can be a tedious process. It requires tremendous focus, precision, and coordination from both the picking and fretting hands. When you’re first learning, prioritize patience and take things slow. Learning to execute with the proper technique will only make more advanced two-hand tapping passages easier and more fun to play down the road.


“You may not use this ‘Eddie Van Halen’ style of tapping too often on the acoustic guitar,” explains Andy. “Tapping on the acoustic guitar is typically more about harmony and trying to cover a lot of bases rather than just a lead solo. But, these exercises are great just to get the proper feeling of hammering on and pulling off under your fingers.”


To learn more about linear two-hand tapping and how to integrate this technique into your acoustic guitar playing, dive into this online acoustic guitar lesson from Andy McKee:


Linear Tapping with Andy McKee:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar? Through our comprehensive acoustic guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Andy McKee, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Andy’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, including two-hand tapping, slap harmonics, and percussion on the guitar body. Plus, you’ll learn many of Andy’s unique original compositions and imaginative covers. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians!


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Learn to Play “Rylynn” with Andy McKee

ArtistWorks Music Roundtable Podcast—Episode 4: Andy McKee & Trevor Gordon Hall

Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Slap Harmonics with Andy McKee




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