Breaking down the Eddie Van Halen Guitar Techniques - 5 Eddie Van Halen-Style Tips, Tricks and Techniques in a simple guitar lesson anyone can use

We've teamed up with Leigh Fuge at MGR Music who breaks down the essential and iconic Eddie Van Halen guitar techniques. In this Eddie Van Halen guitar Lesson, you'll learn 5 tips, tricks and playing-style techniques that Van Halen uses when he plays guitar that you can add to your own playing. This is the perfect quick-fire guitar lesson for Eddie Van Halen fans and those who want to add some cool riffs and styes to their playing. 

If you’ve ever listened to rock guitar players tearing up the fretboard, you can probably bet money on them being influenced somewhere down the line by Eddie Van Halen.

EVH popularised and innovated many technical performance aspects of the electric guitar in the 1970s and 80s and set the blueprint for what would become shred guitar. While he didn’t invent this style he was certainly at the forefront of its exposure and eventual popularity. Did you know he played the solo on Michael Jackson's 'Beat it' and nailed it in one take? Now that's a legend! 

Anyway, on with the lesson. 

In this Van Halen guitar technique lesson you’re going to learn 5 Van Halen style guitar tricks that you can use to bring some 80s rock flair to your playing.

Feel free to watch the Van Halen Guitar techniques video below, then follow along with the tablature and explanations below. 

Van Halen style Two Hand Tapping technique

Eddie Van Halen is often incorrectly credited with inventing th e tapping technique. While he did not invent it, he certainly made it a mainstay in most guitar players' trick bags and definitely helped popularise the two hand tapping technique.

This Van Halen tapping technique lick is a simple tapping lick where you tap the 10th fret of the B string and move the fretting hand down a series of patterns.

Start with your fretting hand doing a pull off between the 8th and 5th frets. After a bar, move this down a fret. This moves down a fret each bar until you hit the 2nd and 5th frets.

The rhythm is sextuplets so you’re doing six notes across a beat. Think of this like a double time triplet.

Van Halen tapping technique 1
Van Halen tapping technique 2

Van Halen Style Tremolo Picking

When listening to any Van Halen album, you often hear a lick with tremolo picking (fast picking) at the tail end of a Van Halen solo.

This Van Halen tremolo picking lick uses 8 notes per beat (32nd Notes). When you are building up to this speed, start by picking 4 notes per beat with a metronome and work the speed up.

If you want to play like Van Halen, you need this tremolo technique as part of your playing style.

Van Halen Style Tremolo Picking

Van Halen Style String Bending with Tapped Notes

The next part of our Van Halen guitar lesson is the classic Eddie Van Halen string bend and tapped note combination. This is a fun technique that looks a lot harder than it is.

Here's how you do it:

You’re doing a full step bend on the 7th fret of the G. When the bend it as it’s peak you’re tapping the 12th fret, pulling that tapped note off and tapping it again on the 10th fret.

When you pull it off the 10th fret, release the bend and pull that off to the 5th fret with your fretting hand. The second bar is another bend that you pick before tapping the 14th fret. You can try this idea by targeting other scale notes in the same key.

Van Halen Style String Bending with Tapped Notes

Van Halen Riffs With Tapped Harmonics Technique

Eddie used tapped harmonics alongside guitar riffs - this was a big part of his technique and playing style. This riff is a simple power chord riff with a tapped harmonic phrase at the tail end.

The harmonics are played by tapping quickly on the fret wire of the frets specified. With your fretting hand you will need to hold down the 7th fret on the A or D string as shown and tap above the frets listed above the tab line. It's worth adding this style into your playing if you want to nail the Van Halen Guitar techniques.

van halen Riffs With Tapped Harmonics lesson 1
van halen Riffs With Tapped Harmonics lesson 2

Riffs with Sus4 Chords, Natural Harmonics and Van Halen Style Whammy Bar Use

The final part of our Van Halen guitar lesson is the combination of riffs with Sus4 chords, natural harmonics and a whammy bar.

EVH was no stranger to an interesting chord in riffs. Many classic riffs used the Sus4 chord. In this case we can view it as a major barre chord style chord where we add a new note on the B string with the little finger. This is an essential part of the classic Van Halen Guitar techniques.

The chord shapes are the same for each bar except it moves down 2 frets.

The first 4 bar loop ends by striking a 5th fret natural harmonic on the D and G and manipulating this rhythmically with the whammy bar.

The second loop ends with a palm muted descending run followed by more natural harmonics.

van halen Riffs with Sus4 Chords 1
van halen Riffs with Sus4 Chords 2
van halen Riffs with Sus4 Chords 3
van halen Riffs with Sus4 Chords 4

About the author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player and tutor from Swansea in South Wales and a guitar writer having written and produced content for Guitar Magazine and many other high profile guitar publications and websites.

If you enjoyed this article on Van Halen Guitar techniques and video, don’t forget to check out PMTVUK on Youtube for more guitar lesson videos.

Professional guidance can make all the difference to your development. Head over to mgrmusic.com and find a great teacher in your local area today. We have a great network of teachers around the UK and around your local PMT stores including the ones in Ipswich, Peterborough and Worcester.