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Hammer ons and Pull offs
Topic: Technique Subtopic: General Level: Beginner Number of Readers: 73341

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Hammer Ons and Pull Offs

These two things refer to techniques employed by the left hand to sound notes without the direct aid of the right hand.

A 'hammer on' is when a note is sounded, and while it is still ringing, a left hand finger is used to quickly press down a fret that is on the same string, and close to the original fret. This will result in the sounding of the second note, even though the right hand did nothing but sound the first note. The vibrations that occurred from the sounding of the first note will be carried on to sound the second note. Here's an example. We can place our index finger on the 3rd string, 5th fret, and sound that note. While the note is still sounding, and without moving our index finger, we can use our ring finger to come firmly and directly down on the 7th fret of the 3rd string. This note will then sound, probably not as loud as the first note, but it will still sound. This is a hammer on.

A 'pull off' is basically the same thing, but backwards. We can use a finger to fret a note, and then sound that note. While the note is still sounding, a finger can be placed directly behind the first finger, and then the first finger can be 'pulled off'. In doing this, it is in effect the same as plucking the string with a finger, it creates vibrations. And now the note that is being fretted directly behind the first finger will be sounded. For example, we could place our index finger on the 5th fret, 3rd string AND place our ring finger on the 7th fret, 3rd string. We can play the note on the 7th fret, and then 'pull' that finger off the string, which at the same time, will sound the note on the 5th fret. This is a pull off.

The main difference between hammer ons and pull offs is that pull offs generate vibrations, while hammer ons generally don't. In other words, in performing a pull off, it would be possible to make the second note louder than the first. In a hammer on, we wouldn't be able to do this, because the sound will have died away slightly when we hammer on.

Hammer ons and pull offs have a number of uses.

They can be used to make a passage sound smoother. Sometimes we don't want to pick every note, because the pick gives a different tone than hammer on or a pull off will.

They can be used to make a passage easier to play. This is true for two reasons. The first is that we can usually do a hammer on or a pull off faster than we can pick two notes in succession. The second reason is that while we are hammering on or pulling off, with two or our left hand fingers, we can use our other two left hand fingers and our pick to do something else at the same time.

They can be used to perform 'trills'. A trill is the rapid succession of two notes. For example, if we placed our index finger on the 12 fret, 3rd string, and then sounded it, we'd get only one sound. But if we continuously hammered on to the 13 fret using our middle finger, and then immediately pulled off back to the 12 fret, we will get a continuous stream of notes, without even using the pick except for the first note. It is because pull offs generate vibrations that we are able to do this. Trills are a good way of ornamenting notes.

Like we said, we can perform trills. If we can perform trills with two notes, why can't we use hammer ons and pull offs between more than two notes? We can. With a lot of practice, we can learn to use hammer ons and pull offs with speed and accuracy, and with this skill, you can learn to play very fast. It's easier to hammer on and pull off to a note than it is to pick every note just as fast.

We'll look at some of these uses of hammer ons and pull offs in further lessons.

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. Hammer ons and pull offs are a means of using the left hand to sound notes with out using the right hand to sound them.
2. A pull off can generate vibrations(sound), but a hammer on will only carry on the left over vibrations from a previous note.
3. Uses of hammer ons and pull offs include smoother passages, easier passages and trills. Also, with a lot of experience using hammer ons and pull offs, one can use them to play very fast.



Questions
Question posted by steve on 1999-12-31
I have afew Metallica tabs but i dont understand how to play them. [ T := Tap using edge of pick; p := pull off finger or pick T T T T E-19p15p12--19p15p12-19p15p12-19p15p12 What is tapping? I understand how to pull-off put i dont know what it means to use the edge of the pick.If someone could please Email me and explain. Thanks.
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by john hudson on 2000-02-09
Do you have any guidlines on how to play certain songs.I am currently learning 'here comes the sun' and would love a step by step tutorial of somekind.I would love a list of sites or a list of books.thanks.
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Question posted by brandon on 2000-04-27
I like how you explain your lessons, I know pretty much all the basics I would really like to know how to "tap". None of my friends seem to know how to do it and I was wondering if you could give me some pointers. If you don't know what im talking about, then I'm talking about what eddie does in "Eruption". Thanks dude, Brandon
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Question posted by Dan.G on 2000-05-27
I only have one question, how do you do an "Artificial Harmonic"?? Cause I've been figuring out how to play "Freedom or Fire" by Fear Factory and there's a part where you have to do a couple of those.thanks.
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Joe on 2000-06-09
I have 1 question. If I want to play this"4h6p4p3" do i just pluck the string one time and try to do all the hammering and pulling in one note or do i pluck the string on the 4th fret than hammer on the 6th fret. Then I pluck the string on the sixth fret and pull off on the 4th fret. Then pluck the string on the 4th fret and pull off on the 3rd fret? Is the latter one correct?
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Question posted by luis on 2000-08-14
quiero aprender todo
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Question posted by ert ert on 2000-09-24
this lesson stinks!!
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Question posted by ert ert on 2000-09-24
I hate it!!
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Question posted by ert ert on 2000-09-24
Take it off the wall!!
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Question posted by michael clooney on 2000-09-26
this is not really a question, but i would like if you could write a lesson about guitar effects, like the wah, flanger, etc.
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Question posted by ISRAEL NUDELMAN on 2000-09-28
about artificial armorics you have tu play the chord in a x space and try to mute the sound whyt the hand i cand explaind more because im chilean and mi english its a little beat but try to do that and maybe if i writhe ok you gonna have you artificial armonics : )
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Question posted by TIFFANY on 2000-10-04
HOW DO YOU PALM MUTE ?????
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Question posted by Skinniks on 2000-10-15
I am learning how to play "Torn" by Creed. There is a lot of palm muting in the song. When I listen to the CD, I can tell where he palm mutes, but it still has a sound coming out. It sounds like he is not really muting it. Can someone tell me what to do??? Do I palm mute softley? Thanks.
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Question posted by John on 2000-11-23
I\'ve been playing a lot of blink 182 music lately, and I can\'t palm mute nearly as clean as them. Any suggestions?
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Question posted by gary cook on 2000-12-07
are there any more trix besides sliding, bending, hammer-ons pull-offs? how do you make the guitar make a squealing noise?
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Question posted by gary cook on 2000-12-07
are there any chord changing warm ups to prefect speed?
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Question posted by the muffin man on 2000-12-29
ok, i can play something such as 7h8r7. this is fine but when i play this: 8r7 the note on the 7th fret is muffled and not clear. any suggestions???
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Question posted by Ace on 2001-02-07
How do i increase my hammer n pull off speed I also need to know where can i find guitar exercise to practice on the net? Thanx
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Question posted by Josh Alderson on 2001-02-15
I have been playing guitar for about 2 years now. All i Play is Dave matthews, some of his songs are hard. Does anyone know of ways around his hard playing. Or is anyone intrested in playing dave matthews songs.
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Question posted by Reeves on 2001-02-28
I want to know how to avoid making noise(by hitting other strings) when doing pulloffs.
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Question posted by ricardo on 2001-07-19
does anybody can explain me to do a really fast hammer such a JOE SATRIANI or JOHN PETRUCCI. Please i need your help thank you
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Question posted by ricardo on 2001-07-19
does anybody can explain me to do a really fast hammer such a JOE SATRIANI or JOHN PETRUCCI. Please i need your help thank you
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Question posted by Aaron on 2001-08-07
Does anybody know any good records with tapping used in them? My guitar teacher told me to listen Van Halen, specifically Eruption and Hot for teacher? Does anyone know of other good records?
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Question posted by plasma on 2001-09-22
does anybody know how to play any paparoach songs
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Question posted by wire on 2001-10-09
I have just one question
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Question posted by Oleg on 2001-12-29
In this lesson you wrote" "in performing a pull off, it would be possible to make the second note louder than the first" I was practicing "make the second note louder than the first",but was never able to do it. Do you know why?
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Question posted by Eric on 2002-03-16
What fingers on what strings should be used for fingerpicking?
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Question posted by eddie veder on 2002-04-30
I think a lot of your tabs suck and are wrong!
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Question posted by LepherMessiah on 2002-11-06
e------------------------------ B------------------------------ G----------------------------0- D--4--0---4--0---4--0---4--0--- A-2--2----------2--2----------- E--------3--4------------------ I was wondering if this was the correct tab for "One" a song by Metallica...
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Question posted by ------ on 2003-06-29
anyone wanna chat? a/s/l??
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Question posted by Mr.blacktie on 2003-10-19
How do you make your hammer ons louder and when i did that taping thing all you could hear was the pull offs and not the hammer ons
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Question posted by ANGUS on 2003-12-07
THUNDERSTRUCK - ACDC...the best of Hammersons_PULLsooffffs
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Question posted by brandon on 2004-09-30
John Petrucci is the Best guitarist ever to grace the earth with his presense. NUF SAID!
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Question posted by samai on 2005-11-22
hello friends, i like play guitar, plaise learn ttttttttthinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Question posted by metallica al the way!!!!! on 2006-02-21
how do you trill on a guitar????????
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