Single String Guitar Chords and Guitar Tapping Lesson

Some guitar students have asked how they could play single string chords on the guitar. This is really easy and you can use as many notes as you want, but here I will show you how to use three notes in a technique which you can apply to lots of different chords. Also, to make this more useful in your playing I will show you how to use guitar tapping which can broaden the possibilities even further.

If you examine the notes which a chord uses, then you can easily take those notes and figure out how to play them on one string. Let’s use the D6 chord, leaving out the 3rd, as an example. The notes in this chord are D, G and B. This chord, like most, can be played several ways as well as in a variety of different positions, but in this guitar lesson we will use only one string to accomplish this.

How to Tap on Guitar

As you can imagine, using this chord shape requires the same intervals no matter which string you play a chord like this on. The chord name will change, yet the intervals remain the same. To better understand this theory, check out the beginner guitar lesson on notes, whole steps and half step intervals here. So, this is simply using the same notes which you would use in the form of a regular chord, but instead you play them on one string! You do not necessarily want to use only one finger for this though, that would require moving around the guitar neck more than what is necessary. This approach to single string chords on guitar is useful in playing lead guitar licks and solos.

Tapping Patterns

A great alternative guitar trick you can learn is to approach this by using a guitar tapping pattern. The guitar tab shown here looks easy yet the technique will require some practice. Once you can easily play the notes in these guitar tabs, try playing the same pattern on the 5th then the 6th strings and compare the notes from each of these chords too. Try beginning with a right hand tap when playing the first note you see in the tablature.
Tablature for this Lesson
This allows you to stay in one position on the neck when playing a chord on just one string without having to move around. You can play the other two notes with your fretting hand utilizing hammer-ons and pull-offs. Try this:

  • Right hand tap the 4th string 12th fret
  • Pull-off to the 4th string 5th fret
  • Left hand hammer to the 4th string 9th fret

Now you can use the same tapping pattern on the 5th and 6th strings! This chord combination creates a very pleasing musical sound.

When I do right handed tapping (as a right handed guitar player), I hold the guitar pick between my thumb and index finger. Then I use my right middle finger to do the tapping with. Some players like to hide their guitar pick in their hand and tap with their index finger, but I have always used my middle finger. It just feels more natural to me and makes playing these kinds of guitar licks much easier. You can try experimenting to find which way works best for you.