Guitar Techniques: A Guide to Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Other Effects Part I

The guitar is an intrinsic part of the world of music. With guitar, you can create rich and engrossing music with different tones, depth, color and textures that make the guitar a pleasant instrument to hear and play. Professional musicians use variety of

The guitar is an intrinsic part of the world of music. With guitar, you can create rich and engrossing music with different tones, depth, color and textures that make the guitar a pleasant instrument to hear and play. Professional musicians use variety of techniques and effects to make their music vivacious. So how do they accomplish these feats? There are number basic techniques that they use including Hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and etc. In this article we will be looking at some of those effects and how to use them in your music.

Technique #1: Hammer-ons

Hammer-ons are a basic part of your guitar playing technique. This technique is used to play a note faster than you can actually pick it or pluck it. Hammer-ons are just what they sound like, you pluck a string and then you bring down one of your fretting fingers (a finger you would use on the fretboard) on to a higher fret. Below is a more detailed guide on executing a hammer-on:

1) Pluck an open string or a note.

2) Then bring down one of your other fingers to a higher note of the same string.

3) Do this really fast as the hammered-on note should be same volume as the plucked note or string.

4) Practice with all your fingers, especially the little finger (pinky) as you master this technique.

Technique #2: Pull-offs

Pull-off, sometimes referred to as “flick-offs”, are the opposite of hammer-ons. In this technique, you will quickly remove a fretted finger from a plucked string. Using this technique will speed up your riff or guitar solo because you have to pick fewer notes. Below is a more detailed guide on executing the pull-off:

1) Fret any note on the fretboard.

2) Then pluck the string and at the same time remove the fretted finger.

3) As you remove your finger, make sure do a “mini-pluck” with the removing finger.

4) Like many things in guitar, you have to practice this for while to get a hang on it. Make sure to practice frequently with you little finger as well.

5) You can do this with two fretted fingers as well; simply fret two notes on the same string.

6) Then remove the lower finger (or the finger on the higher fret) as you pluck the string.

Technique #3: Hammer-on and pull-off combined.

Before trying this technique it is recommended that you master both Hammer-on and Pull-off individually. You will play both hammer-on and pull-off at the same time on a single fret. Mastering this technique will add a whole new depth to your guitar playing skills not to mention the increase in speed. Below is a detailed guide on how to accomplish this:

1) Fret any note on the fretboard.

2) Then as you pluck the string, rapidly hammer-on on a higher fret followed by pull-off.

3) Mastering this technique requires a bit of practice. Make sure to always practice with your little finger.

Part 2 is coming up soon !!!

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Posted on Dec 4, 2010