Lap tapping is a unique guitar technique whereby the acoustic guitarist holds the instrument flat on his lap while tapping the guitar body and strings percussively while playing the melody.
A small number of technically gifted acoustic guitarists have helped develop this form of guitar playing over the years. Talented guitarists such as Ben Konstantinovic, Tony Haven and Ben Howard have very individual styles and can be seen in action on You Tube. Perhaps the best known of all is Canadian guitarist Erik Mongrain whose songs like Airtap! has enjoyed widespread coverage and racked up millions of views on You Tube. Erik Mongrain uses a unique two handed flat guitar technique which simultaneously combines percussive tapping of the guitar body and chords.
Another up and coming lap tapping guitarist is singer, songwriter Liam Iliffe from Bournemouth, UK. Liam is only 15 years old but has been playing guitar for over 8 years. Although his two handed technique is similar to Erik Mongrain, a key difference is that he tends to favour simpler melodies in his own songs given he also sings at the same time. Liam uses lap tapping primarily as a way to inject more raw emotion and drama into his acoustic compositions.
In 2012, Liam entered Live and Unsigned the UKs biggest talent competition for unsigned artists. After sailing through the auditions, Liam impressed at the Regional finals in Portsmouth and was voted through to the Southern England area finals in May 2012. He was also selected by the Live and Unsigned judges to showcase his lap tapping guitar playing at the Southampton Music festival that will be held in October 2012.
The Live and Unsigned competition also coincides with the launch of Liams debut Album Slap tapping, now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other major online distributors. Alongside his original songs like Our Bridge and Intervention, the album also features his unusual cover versions of Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics and the dubstep classic Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex.
Tapping usually incorporates pull-offs or hammer-ons as well, where the fingers of the right hand and, in the motion of removing that finger, pluck the same string already fretted at the eighth fret by the little finger of his/her left hand. It is an extended technique, executed by using one hand to ‘tap’ the strings against the fingerboard, thus producing legato notes. Tapping may be performed either one-handed or two-handed.