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What Tap Shoes Should I Buy?


What do you think was the foundation of Fred Astaire’s performances? It wasn’t just skill, it was a really good pair of tap shoes! Choosing a pair of tap shoes will be determined by your ability and how often you dance. Children’s tap shoes are usually Merry Jane style with only one tap attached - think of what a class full of excited kids with magical noisy shoes would sound like! Beginner’s shoes offer a little more stability to support a new tap dancer learning the moves and how to balance on one foot properly. More advanced tappers tend to prefer Oxford style tap shoes. Shopping with us means you get to choose from nearly 40 different pairs of tap shoes, some gender specific and some unisex.

Shop Tap Shoes


How Does a Tap Shoe Work?

Tap shoes consist of 1-2 tap plates attached to a sole and upper with a series of screws or rivets. How tightly the screws are attached, and the number of screws, determines the sound that you get from your tap shoes. The screws are adjustable to achieve the desired sound; you can get a deeper sound if your taps are looser. These adjustments are made by the manufacturers when the tap shoe is made, which is why our customers love to put their musical trust in them when they buy shoes with the taps already attached.


What Are the Different Types of Taps on Tap Shoes?

Tap shoes can come with or without taps attached. Most of our customers prefer their tap shoes to come ready to dance in straight from the box. If you like to attach your own taps to choose your prefered tightness and pitch, check out our available tap plates. Tap plates are typically made of aluminium or metal alloy, whilst some tap shoes for children might have a plastic heel. There are a few different types of taps, which are as follows:


  • Tele Tone taps are by Capezio and attached with 3 screws. They're the most popular tap plate choice and you can even attach them to your dance sneakers. 
  • Duo Tone taps are also by Capezio. We find that these tap plates are smaller than Tele Tone taps.
  • Supertone are another kind of metal tap plates


What is a Soundboard?

A soundboard is a thin piece of material between the shoe and the tapes which helps to keep the metal attached to the sole.  

What is the Best Type of Tap Shoes?

Tap shoes come in many different styles, like: lace-up, ribbon-tie, slip-on and buckled. It's really your preference when it comes to choosing a style, but that best type of tap shoes for children tends to be the open front Merry Jane bow-tie style, whilst the best type of tap shoes for adults is usually higher-heeled lace-up West End tap shoes. 


What Are Tap Shoe Soles Made of?

Split sole tap shoes are popular with dancers who want more flexibility and range in their shoes. A split sole means that the base (underside) of the shoe is in two parts rather than one piece of material running from toes to heel. Full sole tap shoes are a standard and popular for children and beginners. The soles of your tap shoes will most often by leather or suede. The sole of a tap shoe can be more weighted to offer a louder sound. 


What Size Tap Shoes Should I Buy?

For shock absorption and a better sound quality you need to choose a snug fit from your tap shoes. The shoe should not hang loosely on your foot, but rather should feel tight (but comfortable) to ensure precision when tapping. You’re going to work up a sweat when tap dancing, so bear in mind that if you’re stuck between a smaller and a larger size, the smaller may be the most cost-effective choice as your tap shoes will stretch and enlarge slightly over time. Really put your new tap shoes to the test and do some tap moves with them on to properly to make sure there are no dud notes or pain. Be mindful that even if you have your heart set on a certain pair of tap shoes, it might not be the best fit if you have a narrow or wide foot. Make sure you try your tap shoes on with the socks or tights that you would wear to dance in to get an accurate fit.


Why Does a Lower Topline on a Tap Shoe Offer More Flexibility?

The top edge and sides of the tap shoes that meets your foot is known as the topline. A lower topline means that your ankle is less encased, has more room to move, less restriction and therefore more flexibility. A higher topline will restrict the foot more, but it will however offer more stability in comparison to a lower topline.


What Heel Height on my Tap Shoes is Right for me?

The higher the heel height on your tap shoes, the more amount of pressure you’ll feel on the balls of your feet. Beginners should choose a low heel height around 1” and progress from that height as they advance in dance to a Cuban heel or pair like West End tap shoes. 


What Material Are Tap Shoes Made of?

Tap shoes come in different fabrics, mainly: leather, canvas, synthetic leather and rubber.

  • Leather offers superior comfort and fit. It will mould to the shape of your foot giving a more individual fit.
  • Synthetic leather is a little more rigid than leather, but at a slightly cheaper price point and is often popular with beginners or children.
  • Canvas tap shoes are highly breathable and made of natural fibres.
  • Rubber tap shoes may refer to the type of sole as opposed to the actual upper material. These make great practice shoes and a quieter percussion with your feet!


What Colour Tap Shoes Should I Choose?

Black tap shoes are a popular colour choice because they’re wearable for rehearsals and show on stage. We offer black, red, white, brown and silver tap shoes so you can even choose one colour for rehearsals and get your second pair for stage to match your costume. Whether you choose matte or patent tap shoes is totally up to you, or your school’s requirement. Children usually start out on white tap shoes and advance onto black when they reach a certain age or ability. 


Do You Wear Socks with Tap Shoes?

You should try your tap shoes on for the first time with your socks or tights that you'll wear to dance. We recommend to our dancers that they should wear socks or tights to extend the life of the tap shoes, which has multiple benefits as inner-shoe footwear also acts as an extra layer to cushion and protect your feet from possible blisters.


How Long do a Pair of Tap Shoes Last?

Your tap shoes will last depending on how often you dance, how much weight and pressure you put on the shoe when you tap and how well you look after them. Don’t ever be tempted to show your tap shoes off outside of class as the taps can become scratched and damaged, which ultimately ruins the sound quality and can later ruin your school’s floor!


How Much do Tap Shoes Cost?

Our tap shoes by Alegra start at £12.25 for a basic shoe, ranging up to £120 for our most advanced pairs by top brands like Capezio. How much you want to spend on your tap shoes is really up to you. So, are you shopping with a certain budget in mind? Use the filters on the left-hand side of our tap shoes page to select the price range you’re interested in. The price will tend to increase as you move away from synthetic leather and sway toward real leather.


Browse Tap Shoes


Tips Round-up for Buying Tap Shoes

  • Pick a snug size
  • Look after your shoes and keep screws tights
  • Never wear your shoes outside
  • Start out on a lower heel height
  • Remember that you may want to move on from your first pair of tap shoes quite quickly as your personal tap taste develops, so keep your budget in mind!

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