The ‘tapping’ method is an advanced guitar technique where both hands are placed on the fretboard, typically reserved for solos. Who was the first guitarist to use this method - live or otherwise?

  • 1
    As this questions does not require live music, the live-music tag doesn’t seem to be appropriate. But which tag instead? An instrument tag, i.e., "guitar"? Or a general "techniques" tag?
    – unor
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 2:12

3 Answers 3


First guitarist was possibly Jimmie Webster, who made recordings in the 1950s using a two-handed tapping method he described in 'Touch Method for Electric and Amplified Spanish Guitar', published in 1952. George Lynch, from the bands Dokken and Lynch Mob, has claimed that George Van Eps used tapping in the 1950s as well.

As far as Rock goes, the earliest purveyor mentioned is usually Canned Heat guitarist Harvey Mandel, whom none other than Ritchie Blackmore attests to have seen perform this method going back to 1968. Randy Resnick (who was mentioned in the Eddie Van Halen biography) of the band Pure Food and Drug Act used two-handed tapping techniques extensively in his performances and recordings between 1969 and 1974. Resnick also recorded using the two-handed tapping technique in 1974 on the John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers album "Latest Edition". You might note that these were all California musicians, and would have been bands Eddie VH was going to check out on weekends.

However, just to prove this phenomenon didn't stay in California, take a listen to Steve Hacket (Genesis)'s work on "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", from 1973, and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", from 1971. So, either the wheel was being invented on 2 continents simultaneously, or somewhere during tours one band heard the other and began employing it as well.

  • Wow, Genesis is NOT a band I expected to come up in he answer. Very interesting. Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 11:55
  • Here's a video of an Italian guy doing it in 1965 I just came across. youtube.com/watch?v=UmTQYquqxSY Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 20:43

My vote for the 1st use of 1-handed guitar tapping would be Harry DeArmond:


My vote for the 1st use of 2-handed guitar tapping would be Stanley Jordan:


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    While I can't find a good video of the band Genesis performing it, this cover gives a perfect view of the fretboard. And keep in mind, it was written in 1972. [Genesis - Return Of The Giant Hogweed cover] (youtube.com/watch?v=1QRZyEQ9tXo) Commented May 8, 2015 at 10:52

Tapping was used before any of us. There's a YouTube that focuses on this and includes an old video of an Italian guitarist doing great tapping stuff. Harvey and I played together in the Pure Food & Drug Act where he first saw me doing it. I use tapping in different ways, to imitate a slide guitar riff, for example, or African bottle music. I have an album of my different tapping recordings, free to stream unlimited on my Bandcamp: https://randulo.com

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