Why is Your Guitar Tapping Not Making Sound? 9 Reasons

your guitar tapping isnt making a sound

Guitar tapping is one of the most beautiful techniques. It lets you speed up your playstyle, but why can’t you get any noises out of the instrument? Before giving up on this timeless classic, there are plenty of things to consider. From here on out, you don’t have to worry about not making enough noise with your tapping methods.

Your guitar tapping isn’t making a sound because you aren’t tapping hard enough, the action is off, or you aren’t employing the correct pull-off technique. Other reasons include inaccuracy, device issues, incorrect hand placements, and a lack of practice.

Throughout this post, you’ll learn all of the corrections you need to make to fix your guitar tapping issues. By the end of this article, you won’t have to worry about why your guitar tapping isn’t making sounds.

Why is Your Guitar Tapping Not Making Sound and So Quiet?

If your tapping on the guitar is not making enough sound, there could be several reasons why. Here are some common issues that can cause your tapping to be quiet:

  1. Low Amplifier Volume: If you are playing through an amplifier, make sure the volume is turned up to an appropriate level. If the volume is too low, your tapping may not be audible.
  2. Weak Attack: Tapping requires a strong and sudden attack on the strings. If your tapping technique is weak, it could result in a low volume sound.
  3. Fretting Technique: Tapping involves using your fingers to tap on the fretboard to create sound. If your fretting technique is not strong enough or your fingers are not properly placed on the fretboard, it can result in a weak tapping sound.
  4. Low String Action: If the action (height of the strings from the fretboard) is too low, your strings may not vibrate properly, resulting in a weak sound.
  5. Old Strings: If your strings are old and worn, they may not produce enough sound when tapped. It is recommended to change your strings regularly, especially if you play often.

To address these issues, try turning up the amplifier volume, adjusting your technique to improve attack and fretting, and ensuring that your guitar has proper string action and fresh strings. If the problem persists, it may be helpful to have a professional look at your guitar to determine the cause.

If you want to find out what my recommended guitar gear is, then here is what I recommend on Amazon:

your guitar tapping isnt making a sound

1. You Aren’t Tapping Hard Enough So Your Guitar Tapping is Quiet

Guitar Gear Finder explains that some of the most common mistakes start with not tapping hard enough. If you don’t put enough pressure on the strings with your right hand, you likely won’t hear anything from the sound hole or the amp.

One of the easiest ways to make sure you tap hard enough is to listen for a tone change. Pluck the string, tap the desired fret, and listen. If the tone changes, you’re headed in the right direction. If it stays the same, fades, or buzzes, you should apply more pressure.

2. The Guitar Action Is Too High Making Tapping Quiet

Having a high action on your guitar means you have to press a lot harder than you should. As you read above, not tapping hard enough can prevent your guitar tapping from making sounds. The good news is that you can adjust the action very quickly. All you need is an Allen key and a ruler to get started.

Follow these steps to reduce the action on your guitar:

  1. Flatten the neck by adjusting the truss rod. Your truss rod can be adjusted by accessing the adjustment nut. It’s usually found in the sound hole near the base of the neck. Turning the adjustment rod will force the guitar neck in the opposite direction. You should aim to make it as flat as you can without buzzing the strings.
  2. Test the 12th fret’s height with a ruler. Your guitar’s low E string should be 0.028mm above the fret and the high E string should be 0.020mm above the fret. They can be slightly higher or lower, but the strings shouldn’t buzz or be too difficult to compress. If you’re having trouble, consider adjusting the truss rod a bit.
  3. File the nut and saddle if necessary. Switching to bigger strings occasionally calls for modifications. The nut and saddle support the strings. If the grooves are too shallow, the strings will be a bit too high above the fretboard. The result is a set of strings that have high action and are too hard to press.
  4. Stretch the strings to make them more flexible. Hold one string with your left hand and gently bend it up and down with your right hand. Do this motion to each of the strings, tune the guitar, then firmly press the strings between the nut and the tuning pegs. Tune the guitar again if it loses its tune from stretching the strings.
  5. Tighten the tuning pegs. If the tuning pegs get too loose, they’ll reduce the action. Loose strings tend to dip toward the fretboard, regardless of the bridge, nut, and truss rod. This can also happen if you have worn strings. However, loose tuning pegs can also pull the strings, which makes them higher than they need to be.

3. The Guitar Action Is Too Low Making Tapping Quiet

If the action is too low, you won’t produce enough noise while guitar tapping. This problem occurs because there aren’t enough vibrations coming from the strings. Guitar tapping is useless if the vibrations can’t make it to the bridge. All you have to do is raise the action a little bit to correct this common concern.

the action is too low

Try these suggestions to raise the action:

  • Turn the truss rod in the opposite direction. Much like lowering the truss rod, you can use the adjustment nut to raise the truss rod. Use an Allen key and turn it in small measurements. A little bit of an adjustment goes a long way with the truss rod; turning it too much can crack the neck.
  • Replace the nut. If the nut is too low, you can add a temporary pad to elevate the strings. However, it’s much more reliable to replace the nut. To do this, remove the strings, lift the nut with a putty knife, and use an adhesive to secure the new like-for-like nut to the guitar. Wait until the adhesive dries to reattach the strings.
  • Replace the saddle. Much like the nut, a low-sitting saddle lowers the action too much. Remove the strings, lift the saddle, and replace it with the same make and model from the manufacturer. Many saddles don’t use adhesives. Instead, they sit in a groove on top of the bridge. If your saddle has an adhesive, don’t forget to glue the new one, too.
  • Make sure the bridge is secured to the guitar. If the bridge moves around, it’ll loosen the strings and lower the action. It’s very rare for a loose bridge to raise the action. Replace or secure the bridge by placing taping around it. Lay a hot wet towel over the bridge, then gently blow dry it until the bridge comes off with a putty knife.
  • Get new guitar strings if necessary. Old strings can get too loose, which makes them dip towards the fretboard. You can keep raising the action, but the worn strings won’t go up for more than a few practice sessions. You can also take this time to inspect the nut, bridge, and saddle if necessary.

4. Wrong Pull-Off Techniques Making Guitar Tapping Quiet

Most beginners focus on pressing the string. However, tapping is only half of the technique. It’s essential to pull off the string with enough force. Not only does it produce a louder tone with more vibrations, but it also provides the unique percussion sound guitarists know and love. Your pull-off technique could make or break your guitar tapping.

Here’s how you can pull your finger off the string correctly:

  • Flick down. Flicking down while tapping guitar strings is the most common method. Tap with a bit of force, quickly rotate your finger downward, then pick it. It’s almost like a mini version of a strum or fingerpick. This quick motion should be slowed down until you master it; otherwise, you’ll likely hit a few other strings under it.
  • Pull up. If you don’t want to flick down, you can pull up after tapping. Much like the aforementioned method, all you have to do is rotate your finger in the desired direction. Push it toward the low E string, then pick it off like a strum or fingerpick. This method is often preferred by people with thick fingers.
  • Slide to another fret. If you don’t want to dive into flicking up or down, you could slide to another fret. This motion fades the tapping sound into the higher or lower fret. Keep in mind that it reduces the percussion sound, which may or may not matter based on your desired outcome. Make sure you slide to a fret that suits the current scale.
  • Hammer a nearby fret. If you’re worried about the previously mentioned methods, you could hammer one or two strings up the fretboard. Much like sliding to another fret, you’ll notice the fret that’s tapped second or third in a row is much quieter. However, it can be a useful technique for slow-paced guitar tapping.

If you’re interested in learning more about pulling off of the string while tapping your guitar, review this helpful video guide:

5. The Guitar Strings Are Too Heavy Making Tapping Quiet

Heavy strings are harder to compress. Consider switching to lighter strings or focusing your efforts on the high E string. This method ensures that you don’t have to slam the strings when tapping the guitar. Lighter strings are also better for fingerpicking, which you can blend with guitar tapping and percussion.

However, the gauge is irrelevant if you can’t hit the right strings and frets. Read on to learn more about guitar tapping accuracy mistakes.

the strings are too heavy

6. Accuracy Is the Issue Making Guitar Tapping Quiet

If you’re not accurate enough, you won’t be able to hear anything when you’re tapping your guitar. Accuracy is perhaps the most important part of the process. If you miss the proper fret, hit a bar, or don’t hold the left hand in the right position, you won’t be able to make enough sounds. Other issues include moving too quickly and not recognizing patterns.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these accuracy problems below.

  • Missing the right fret: If you hit the wrong fret, you’ll notice the tone is completely different than you expected. Furthermore, the lack of intonation could silence the tapping motion. Make sure your finger is as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. This motion will prevent you from hitting the wrong fret.
  • Hitting the bar between the frets: Guitar Unit shows a lot of beginners aim for speed, so they hit the bar between each fret. The bar is where the string hits to generate vibrations at the proper tone. If you tap the bar, you’ll buzz the string and stop the vibration. Instead, aim for the center of each fret.
  • Rapid movements: Tapping too quickly will make you miss the fret, hit the bar, or not apply enough pressure to the strings. Almost every mistake starts with tapping too quickly. Slow down a bit and take your time to focus on accuracy, then you’ll naturally get quicker when you learn the proper techniques.
  • Pattern issues: Many beginners try to jump into tapping multiple frets in a pattern. For example, you could hold your left hand on the bottom string, fifth fret. Your right hand would go on the same string, but alternating between the eighth and twelve frets. Instead, stick with two frets, such as the fifth with the left and the eighth with the right.
  • Tapping the wrong strings: If you have your left hand on the fifth string and you accidentally tap the sixth string, you won’t hear much noise. If you hear anything, it’ll be an out-of-tune sound. Make sure you’re tapping the correct string, especially if you have a full chord with the left hand.

7. Device Malfunctions Making Guitar Tapping Quiet

Not all of your guitar tapping instruments are caused by your hands or the strings. In fact, using the wrong devices, malfunctioning cables, and various other hardware issues can ruin the tapping sounds. Whether you’re using amps, audio interfaces, digital audio workstations, or direct computer connections, there’s always a chance for technology to fail.

device malfunctions digital audio workstations

So, what kind of device malfunctions can interfere with your guitar tapping sounds?

  • The cables aren’t transmitting the signal correctly. Old cables will ruin your guitar tapping. You might be able to hear it through the sound hole of an acoustic guitar, but your electric guitar won’t make any tapping noises with a bad cable. Test the cable on another device to see if it needs to be replaced.
  • Your audio interface doesn’t have the proper settings. Audio interfaces can transmit the right signal, but it’s important to monitor and adjust the volume, gain, and other factors. If there’s not enough tone, you won’t hear the guitar tapping coming through the speakers, amplifiers, or computer.
  • The digital audio workstation isn’t programmed to your liking. Much like the audio interface, it’s crucial that you adjust your DAW as necessary. Garage Band, Audacity, and many other digital audio workstations let you adjust the settings on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Try turning up the treble to hear the tapping more clearly.
  • Your guitar’s pickup is broken or damaged. Guitar pickups convert the instrument’s vibrations to digital signals. These signals can be amplified with an amp, speaker, computer, and many other devices. If the pickup is damaged or the phase switch is flipped in the wrong direction, you won’t hear any tapping.
  • The amplifier isn’t set the right way. Amplifiers have similar controls and adjustments to DAWs and audio interfaces. If the volume or gain is too low, you likely won’t hear the guitar tapping on an electric guitar. Check these settings, then determine if the fault is on the amp or the guitar.

8. Incorrect Left Hand Placement Making Guitar Tapping Quiet

The left hand is often overlooked. People focus on the right hand since it does most of the tapping. Make sure your left hand has the proper strings covered with your fingers in the center of each fret.

It’s also important to ensure that none of your fingers touch the frets between the tapped string and the chord. This placement will cause buzzing sounds and dull the sound output.

incorrect left hand placement

9. Not Enough Practice Making Guitar Tapping Quiet

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Guitar tapping is a challenging technique that’s increasingly difficult for beginners. It’s much easier to master once you know the basics of slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc. However, this technique can be simplified by knowing how to practice with the goal of being a bit louder.

Keep these suggestions in mind when practicing your guitar tapping:

  • Always start by practicing slowly. There’s no need to rush through your guitar tapping practice sessions. If you go too quickly, you’ll miss muscle memory and individual movements. Even if you’re an expert, it’s a good idea to start the session slow because you’ll retain the basic concepts much easier.
  • Keep the tapped frets as close to the chorded fret as possible. For example, there’s no need to go more than two or three frets higher when you start your guitar tapping journey. Wait until you’re comfortable with producing the volume and speed you desire, then go up the fretboard.
  • Don’t forget to pull off and hammer on with the left hand. You don’t have to put all of your practice and effort into the right hand. You can use the same flick-down and pull-up methods with both hands. However, this technique should be mastered once you’re familiar with tapping with the right hand.
  • Consider starting with one string rather than forming a chord. The high E string is often seen as the easiest string to tap. It’s lighter than the rest of the strings. It also doesn’t have any strings below it, which means you don’t have to worry about hitting unwanted strings and frets.
  • Strum before tapping until you master the process. Strumming vibrates the strings, which resonates in the sound hole when you tap the frets. It’s a great way to get used to the patterns without having to focus too much on pulling off the string. You can eventually mix strumming with guitar tapping for an advanced, beautiful melody.

Final Thoughts

Guitar tapping can be complicated, but you’ll find a whole lot of relief by using the techniques found above. Remember to start with a slow, rhythmic pattern before diving into advanced tapping methods. Proper placement and accuracy are far more valuable than speed.

Guitar Tapping is Quiet Or Making No Sound FAQ

Here are some common questions.

How do you get the finger tapping sound on a guitar?

Finger tapping on a guitar is a technique that involves tapping the fretboard with your fingers to produce notes or chords. Here are some steps to get the finger tapping sound on a guitar:

  1. Choose the right location: The technique requires you to tap the fretboard, so you need to choose the right location. Typically, you will tap around the 12th fret area of the guitar.
  2. Start with a single note: Choose a single note and tap it with your index finger. You should tap it hard enough to make it sound.
  3. Pull off: After you tap the note, pull your finger off the fretboard to produce the note again.
  4. Try different notes: Once you are comfortable with tapping a single note, you can try different notes to create melodies or chords. You can use different fingers to tap on different frets to produce various notes.
  5. Practice: Like any other technique, practice is essential to improve your finger tapping ability. Start slow and gradually increase your speed.

Remember to maintain a steady beat while tapping to produce a rhythmic sound.

Why are my guitar strings not making sound?

There could be several reasons why your guitar strings are not making sound:

  1. Your guitar is not plugged in: If you’re playing an electric guitar, make sure it’s properly plugged into an amplifier.
  2. Your guitar’s volume is turned down: Check to make sure that the volume on your guitar is turned up.
  3. The strings are not pressed down hard enough: Make sure that your fingers are pressing down on the strings hard enough to produce a clear sound.
  4. Your guitar is out of tune: If your guitar is out of tune, the strings may not sound correctly. Use a tuner to make sure your guitar is in tune.
  5. The strings are old or dirty: If your guitar strings are old or dirty, they may not produce a clear sound. Replace your strings if they are old or clean them if they are dirty.
  6. Your guitar’s pickups are dirty: If your guitar’s pickups are dirty, they may not be picking up the sound from the strings. Clean the pickups with a soft, dry cloth.
  7. There is a problem with your guitar’s electronics: If none of the above solutions work, there may be a problem with your guitar’s electronics. Take your guitar to a professional to get it repaired.

How can I improve my tapping?

Improving your tapping technique on the guitar can take time and practice, but here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start slowly: Begin by practicing tapping at a slower tempo and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable.
  2. Use a metronome: A metronome can help you stay on tempo and ensure that your tapping is consistent and accurate.
  3. Practice scales and arpeggios: Practicing scales and arpeggios can help you build finger strength, accuracy, and dexterity.
  4. Experiment with different finger positions: Try different finger positions to see what works best for you. You can tap with one finger or multiple fingers, and you can use different fingers for different notes.
  5. Focus on your timing: Make sure your taps are perfectly in time with the beat. This will help ensure that your tapping sounds smooth and musical.
  6. Practice with a backing track: Playing along with a backing track can help you develop your timing and musicality.
  7. Experiment with different effects: Tapping can sound great with effects like delay, reverb, and distortion. Try experimenting with different effects to find the sound you like best.

Remember, the key to improving your tapping technique is practice. Dedicate time each day to practice tapping and you’ll see improvement in no time!

Is it hard to tap on guitar?

Tapping on the guitar can be difficult at first, but with practice, it can become easier. It requires a good sense of rhythm and coordination between the left and right hand. Learning tapping involves understanding the proper hand placement, the right amount of pressure to apply, and the coordination between both hands. Additionally, it’s important to practice slowly at first and gradually increase the speed. With consistent practice, tapping can become a great tool for adding interest and complexity to guitar playing.

How does Eddie Van Halen tap?

Eddie Van Halen is known for popularizing and innovating the tapping technique on guitar. He used a two-handed approach, with his left hand fretting the notes and his right hand tapping the strings to produce a sound.

To perform his tapping technique, Eddie Van Halen would use his right hand to tap the strings on the frets, creating a sound that is similar to a piano. He would often use this technique to create fast and intricate melodies, arpeggios, and solos.

To get started with tapping like Eddie Van Halen, it’s important to practice your finger strength and accuracy. Begin by practicing simple patterns using your right hand to tap the strings, while your left hand frets the notes. As you become more comfortable with the technique, you can start to incorporate it into your playing style and experiment with more complex patterns and melodies.

While tapping can be a challenging technique to master, it can add a unique and impressive element to your guitar playing. With enough practice and dedication, you can achieve a level of skill and precision similar to that of Eddie Van Halen.

How do you start tapping on a guitar?

Finger tapping is a guitar technique that allows you to create a wide range of sounds on your guitar. It can be a bit tricky to learn at first, but with practice, you can master the technique. Here are some steps to help you get started with tapping on a guitar:

  1. Choose the right guitar: For finger tapping, it’s best to use an electric guitar with a thin neck and low action. A guitar with a wide fretboard may make it harder to reach the notes with your fingers.
  2. Choose the right pick: Use a thin pick or no pick at all. Finger tapping is a technique that requires you to use your fingers to play the notes instead of a pick.
  3. Pick a note: Start by picking a note on the fretboard with your pick or finger. Let’s say you pick the note G on the 3rd fret of the low E string.
  4. Hammer-on: Use your fretting hand to “hammer-on” to the next note. Place your index finger on the 5th fret of the low E string and tap it down hard to make the note ring. This is called a hammer-on.
  5. Pull-off: Now, use your middle finger to pull off the string to the original note (G on the 3rd fret) while letting the note ring. This is called a pull-off.
  6. Repeat: Practice this process with different notes, strings, and finger combinations. Keep practicing until you can execute this technique smoothly and with ease.
  7. Incorporate with other techniques: Once you’ve mastered the basics of finger tapping, try to incorporate it with other techniques like bending, vibrato, or sliding. This will help you create more complex and interesting sounds.

Remember, learning to tap on a guitar takes time and practice. Start with the basics and build your skills gradually. As you get better, experiment with different notes, scales, and rhythms to create your own unique sound.

Is low action better for tapping?

Low action can make tapping easier, but the optimal action height for tapping is a matter of personal preference. Some guitarists prefer higher action for tapping, as it can give them more control and a clearer sound. However, having low action can reduce the distance between the frets and the strings, making it easier to tap quickly and accurately without having to use excessive force. Ultimately, the best action height for tapping depends on the individual player’s technique and style.

Is tapping easier on electric guitar?

Tapping can be easier on electric guitar for several reasons. Electric guitars generally have thinner and more narrow necks, which can make it easier to reach and play notes with the fretting hand. In addition, electric guitars often have lower action (the height of the strings above the fretboard), which can make it easier to play notes with the tapping hand without having to press down too hard. Finally, electric guitars often have more sustain than acoustic guitars, which can help the tapped notes ring out more clearly and loudly.

What are the 5 steps to tapping?

Here are the five basic steps to tapping on a guitar:

  1. Place your fingers: Place your fretting hand’s index finger or middle finger on the string you want to tap on. This is often the high E or B string.
  2. Pick the string: Use your picking hand’s pick or your fingers to pick the string while your fretting hand’s finger is in place.
  3. Hammer-on: After you have picked the string, hammer-on to the fret above the tapped note with your fretting hand’s finger.
  4. Pull-off: After you have hammered-on, pull off your fretting hand’s finger while the note is still ringing.
  5. Repeat: Once you have mastered the basic tapping technique, practice tapping with different fingers and on different strings.

Remember that tapping can be difficult at first, but with practice and patience, you can master this technique and add it to your guitar playing arsenal.

If you want to find out what my recommended guitar gear is, then here is what I recommend on Amazon:

Related Posts:

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others.
Check out my recommended guitar gear!
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." Romans 10:9-10

Recent Posts