Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Guitar Lessons - Hammer-on, Pull-offs

By: Bill McRea

One of the primary legato techniques all guitarists must learn
is the hammer-on, pull-off. This technique is important because
it allows for nuances in tone and expression, and it allows the
picking hand a "break" since it does not have to pick the notes
on the hammer-on or the pull-off. This results in a faster
progression of notes, sometimes called licks.

The hammer-on is accomplished when you pick a note and then
using another finger hammer down on the same string. The sound
of the hammered note is less pronounced than the picked note.
For example place your first finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd
string, and the hammer down your third finger on the 7th fret of
the 3rd string. Don't use your just quickly strike the second
fret position with the tip of your 3rd finger. This would be
described in guitar tab as 5h7 or 5 hammer 7. Keep your first
finger on the 5th fret because you are going to pull-off of the
7th fret in the next example.

The pull-off results when you release a plucked note with enough
force such that the second fretted note rings. This may require
a slight side way motion to create enough friction to cause the
string to ring out. The sound of the pulled-off note is less
pronounced since you aren't using your pick to create it. This
would be illustrated in guitar tab 7p5 or 7 pull 5.

If you combine these techniques you can create very fast note
runs or licks. Imagine how this sequence of hammer-on,
pull-off's would sound when played very quickly 5h7p5h7p5. In
deed the hammer-on, pull-off technique is the cornerstone for
legato and most speed playing techniques.

It takes time to perfect the technique but it is worth the

About the author:
Bill McRea is the publisher of and

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