Eric Johnson Koto Tapping Technique

Like many other great guitarists, tapping is a part of Eric Johnson’s arsenal.  Yet he is one of the few who uses this technique for tonal qualities, rather than just for raw speed.  Whether he’s tapping out some harmonics above the pick-ups or using this amazing koto technique, his tapping is much more melodic and orginal than most.  Below I have a video of him explaining his “koto technique.”


Pretty cool, huh?

Take a look at this technique.  I’ve listed the basics of how to do it again below in case the video was a bit unclear for you.

Fret a note with your pinking hand index finger.  Pick right behind your index finger with your picking hand thumb. These two steps occurs almost simultaneously.  Next you can choose to bend this note be stretching the string with your fretting hand.  Then you can pull off from your picking hand index finger to your fretting hand. I’ve tabbed out the first couple of licks he plays in the video the best I could.  Try them out.

Video Lick 1:

Video Lick 2:


The 2nd one is a little complicated.  Just remember that all notes are either tapped and picking with the thumb, pulled-off to, or just normally picked with the thumb. I’ve marked the tapped notes with a “T” and the pulled off notes with the slurs.  Everything else pick with your thumb.

If you have any questions or comments please email me at

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5 Responses

  1. awesome

  2. this thing is a lil complicated, tell me, do I have to use pedal effects, like delay, etc. etc.? or just a clean tone?

  3. Natsuki,
    No effects are needed. Use a clean tone, make sure you pick the tapped notes with your picking hand and make good pull-offs. You can also experiment with different pick ups.


  4. This is a really neat technique, but you can get the same kinda sound using the trem bar, both takes pratice but it’s easier on the trem.

  5. I know what you mean by the trem bar technique. They do sound similar, although I think this technique is a little bit different because you get a plucked sound when you pick the note with your picking hand in this one.


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