Harmonics and fret tapping

If you’ve been following my blog to date, you no doubt have noticed I love using harmonics and fret tapping as part of my style. Here’s an example where I combine the two techniques to produce some interesting percussive tones.

Don’t forget, if you would like to slow the video down to study the technique more, you can click on the little gear on the lower right side of the YouTube window and pick your speed.

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A little fret tapping

Fret tapping is a technique that involves applying enough pressure on the frets to produce a sound without using the other hand to pluck or strum the string. Typically, you want to find a note that has the right harmonics or overtones that are complementary to the note you’re trying to produce.

In this cover of the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood,” I’m using this technique in a couple different ways. Let’s start at the beginning. After strumming a few harmonics on the 12th fret, I kick things off. You can view this in the YouTube video at 0:05 to 0:10 seconds in.

With the left hand, I’m tapping out two notes. After hitting the fret, I’m pulling the strings before releasing. This is sometimes referred to as “hammering on” and off the string. The effect provides not only the fret tapping notes, but the open string notes immediately after. This creates a trill in harmony.

Meanwhile, with the right hand, I’m tapping on the lowest string (here tuned down to D) and then the A string.

This technique is slightly different for fret tapping. Here, what I am doing is tapping with the index finger of my hand directly over the 12th fret. It’s a very quick action, almost a jab. I am not pressing the finger onto the fret. The jabbing effect produces the harmonics for that particular string.

I’m alternating between the low D (or drop D from the usual low E) and then tapping the A string. This gives the effect of a contrapuntal “bass” line to the left hand.

To view this technique in the video, look at the frames between 10 and 15 seconds in the YouTube video.

Once you have mastered each technique in the left and right hands, try putting them together and you have the intro! Good luck and let me know in the comments section how it worked for you.

I’ll post more about other techniques used in Norwegian Wood and other instrumentals in the coming days, weeks and months. If you are interested, you can follow this blog to get notified about updates.

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Thanks for reading!


I’m using Elixir 12-53 Nanowebs on my guitar. I find these strings last a lot longer than most and have a clear and bright sound. The link here is an affiliate link to Amazon, if you’re interested in trying them out.

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