Lessons > Hammer-ons & Pull-offs

Hammer-ons

A hammer-on is a form of legato (smooth playing) that is achieved by using a fretting hand finger to slam down onto a fret to sound a note without the need for plucking. Below is an example:

Instruction:

  1. Place the 1st finger (index finger) of your fretting hand on 5th fret of the high E-string.
  2. Pluck the high E-string.
  3. Whilst the note is sounding, press the tip of your second finger (middle finger) down onto the 6th fret.
  4. The note on fret 6 should sound as you hammer on.

Make sure you remain holding your first finger on the 5th fret as you hammer-on to fret 6. The hammer-on needs to be firm enough to produce a note equal in volume to the plucked note. It is possible to hammer-on from an open string, try the example below:

  1. Pluck the high E-string.
  2. With the 1st finger of your fretting hand slam down onto the 3rd fret of the string.

Remember that the hammered note should be at the same volume as the plucked note. If it isn't then you need to work on your technique. Try hammering harder and using absolute tip of your finger to hammer down. It is possible to hammer-on without plucking the string first, although this is usually referred to as a tap. Tapping can be done with both your fretting hand and your picking hand.

Pull-offs

A pull-off is the opposite of a hammer-on. Quickly taking a finger off a fret to sound a note below it (on the same string).

Instruction:

  1. With your 2nd finger hold down the 6th fret of the high E-string.
  2. Whilst holding the 6th fret, use your 1st finger to hold down the 5th fret on the same string.
  3. Pluck the high E-string.
  4. Whilst the note is sounding, remove the 2nd finger from the string really quickly.
    The 5th fret should now sound.

Make sure the pulled note is the same volume as the picked note. Pulling tip of your finger down slightly as you pull off will produce a louder tone.

Remember - hammer-ons and pull-offs can both involve open strings. Try out various slurs (hammer-ons and pull-offs) all around the fretboard. Use different fingers and try stretching between frets that are far apart.