Lead Guitar Techniques -- Hammer on and Pull off Lick Set#1 [Interm/Rock/Technique]

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Lead Guitar Techniques -- Hammer on and Pull off Lick Set #1

This lesson is divided into three different exercised related to hammer on and pull offs. These techniques are widely used by many different kinds of electric guitarists. They seem to be universal in use and appeal.

The first lick is a good exercise that helps you take the hammer on and pull off up and down the neck. This helps you get the feel for what it takes to continue enough pressure on the string to create sustain.

I first hammer down on the G string in the second fret, and then pull off to create the open string note. I then proceed up the neck a few frets and back down to where I started. Notice that I alternate the use of three fingers: the index, middle and ring. You'll need to develop this capability for these fingers as you'll most definitely find call to use them with this technique in the future.

Begin slowly enough for you to create the right sustain. The goal is to have the open string sound the same volume as the hammered string. Gradually build speed as you master the technique.

The more speed and endurance you build, the less you will be 'plucking' and the more you'll be just taking your fingers off of the strings. But just keep in mind that there are times when a deliberate pluck or two is a good thing!

The first set of tab below shows this concept. It only shows one string with 4 sets of hammer ons and pull offs, but repeat the same for as many strings up and down the neck that you choose.

Technically speaking, this combination of maneuvers constitutes sixteenth notes. But you could easily double up the speed so they might be considered 32nd notes. All that depends on the time signature of the song. For now just think about playing cleanly.

The second lick is similar, except now I'm using two fingers. Both of the first two notes are hammers with the third note a pull off to the note of the open string. Do the same exercise as described previously for the two-note hammer on and pull off. You could also alternate fingers: I'm using the index and middle. Try the middle and ring. Technically speaking, you're creating 16th note triplets, which add up in a weird way so 8 set of triplets gives you 2 measures in 4/4 time.

The third is also similar. In fact, it's the same exercise as the second. The difference is that there's now a fret in between the first and second hammer. Sixteenth notes again.


The hammer on part is the easiest, huh? On the pull offs, it's natural for the ring finger of my hand to pull slightly downward on the string before releasing it. On the index finger, since it's relatively closer to the string, it's more of a deliberate downward pull.

  • Arch your hand as if you were playing a C chord
  • Practice the mechanics

    Practice without regard to playing cleanly, at first. Get your fingers limbered up and exercising the motions.

  • Start slowly, and build confidence by playing cleanly

    If you don't have patience and learn to play cleanly, you won't want to continue.
    One tip to help you along with these exercises is to mute the B string with a finger from your pick hand

  • Learn to Play Lightly

    There will be times when you'll want to play heavier in some spots, but
    you'll be able to build up speed when learning to play with a lighter touch

  • Build Up Speed, Gradually.

    Work into it. Don't expect to come out blazing. Think quality, not quantity.




Have fun!


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