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Talking Technique: Tapping into Tapping

Today we’re talking tapping! I get a lot of questions about tapping because of Oon, my duo with bassoonist Paul Hanson. I get to play chords, melodies, and grooves – sometimes at the same time. Tapping is a helpful technique to expand the possibilities of the bass, but it must be used with taste! Function comes first.

This lesson will get you started on tapping with a look at tapping on a 6-string versus a 4-string, how to get extra oomph out of your right hand, and how to use both hands to get more notes. We’ll also go over a few cool and accessible things to start on.

Austrian-gone-Californian Ariane Cap is a bassist, educator, blogger and author. In her book "Music Theory for the Bass Player” and corresponding 20-week online course, she teaches music theory, bass technique, bass line creation and fretboard fitness in a systematic, practical and experiential way. Contact her via her blog or website.

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Share your thoughts

Dave Dickens

Dave Dickens

Great lesson! It’s really nice when an instructor steps away from the standard lessons to cover topics that are fun and add color just by virtue of the technique itself. Thank you Ariane!!! You make learnin’ fun!

Mark S Beretta

Mark S Beretta

Ariane I can’t get my strings low enough for tapping , I play a Fender Jazz bass MIM.
I tried everything I know to lower the strings and read about shimming the neck but am afraid of taking my neck off. That seems it would mess up the strings close to the nut.
Great lesson thanks.

    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Mark, I have tried the shimming and it did work. I had help though and it might not hurt to ask a builder for some pointers. Neck set up, lowering the riders are definitely the first courses of action. You could also ask a builder about filing down the nut (I’d get help there, too, because if done incorrectly it can knock your tuning out) and maybe a fret job is also a good part of the plan. To do tapping the action doesn’t need to be terribly low, but too high makes it hard. Also: strings! For tapping I prefer a lighter gauge and fresh strings that “speak” easier. For grooving, they can be a bit dead and I like em heavy. Good luck!!



great lesson. would love to see some more on this technique as i’m not very familiar with it, but this was a very good starting point.


    Ariane Cap (Author)

    Okay, cool, Tzalaran, noted for the future! It will be a few episodes, so enough time or you to get a head start with it. Happy tapping shedding!