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Eddie Van Halen – 2 hand tapping rock Pioneer and much more…

Posted by The MindMusicMentor on October 31, 2012


In 1966 Jimi Hendrix turned the guitar world upside down – as a power trio first with Hey Joe, and then through 1967 and beyond with Purple Haze through to Voodoo Chile 

In 1978, less than 10 years after Hendrix debut – with two hands on the fretboard tapping, Eddie Van Halen, and his trademark solo Eruption, would do the same thing

Just a throwaway track on their first album, Eddie even claims he played it wrong but they didn’t have time to re-record; eruption was the solo that once again raised the bar on guitar playing… and at a time when punk, new wave and even disco was ruling the charts – Van Halen made rock sound exciting again.

The Early Eddie

 In his youth, a young Eddie Van Halen originally played piano.. he claims it was this that gave him the idea for using both hands on the fretboard.

Another story is that when he saw Led Zeppelin in concert, it was Guitarist’s Jimmy Page’s solo in the song Heartbreaker where Jimmy plays one handed that gave him the idea…

“What if I use the strumming hand, and use my fingers to tap on the fretboard?”.

In the early days of Van Halen, when it was time for Eddie to do his two handed tapping, he would turn his back on the audience so they couldn’t see what he was doing and how he was getting that unusual fluid lead sound. After the release of their first album, guitarists all around the world were trying to figure out how to play Eruption.

Here’s the Youtube link to the original 1978 version from their first album – Van Halen

The tapping part starts after around 1 minute, the phaser guitar effect goes on and tapping continues right through giving a very classical type effect.

Van Halen… more than just gimmicks

The band were very popular especially in America and wrote what became classic rock songs, sometimes Eddie Van Halen would switch from Guitar and play keyboards, such as on jump and why can’t this be love.

The DiveBomb

Other techniques that Eddie Van Halen used was the dive bomb, especially playing an open low E string and then pushing right down on the whammy bar until it’s almost against the body of the guitar.

Biggest Hit in the UK -Jump – with driving keyboards though has a great Guitar solo with more than just Eddie’s trademark tapping ideas

Van Halen in the 2000s

There have been different line ups, although Eddie has always been on guitar, and brother Alex has always been on the drums. In recent years Eddie’s son Wolfgang has joined them on bass making Van Halen truly a family affair!

Origins of the Tapping technique

It is not quite clear, Eddie Van Halen did not invent this, but he certainly popularised this idea – there were Guitarists in the 1950s, from Blues and Jazz players, through the 1960s and even early 1970s that had used some tapping in their playing.

While he did not invent the technique, Eddie Van Halen certainly put tapping on the rock map and, perhaps for a short time, was the Greatest Rock N Roll Guitar player performing.


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