Hammer Ons And Pull Offs
Hammer ons and pull offs are an essential guitar technique that allows notes to be played without the use of the picking hand. It is generally used to create a smoother attack and sound. If you picked every note with the right hand every note would have the same attack too it. But by adding hammer ons and pull offs you can change your dynamics and get a fresh sound.
A hammer on is notated in tab with a 'h' while a pull off with a 'p'. For example.
A hammer on is first done by playing the original note. In the above example, it would be the 5th fret on the G string. You're not 'hammering' the first note just the second, so go ahead and pick it with your right hand. After that first note is played is when you employ the hammer on technique. The tab clearly indicates a hammer on onto the 7th fret of the G string. To do this, simply take your 3rd finger and 'hammer' it down on to the 7th fret without picking. Just by smashing your finger on the fretboard should be enough to make the string vibrate to make the note.
A pull off is basically the opposite. In the above example we first play the 7th fret and then 'pull off' to the 5 fret. *** Important *** It's not enough to just lift your finger off the string. This is what many beginner guitarists do but by just lifting your finger off the string your not creating any more string vibrations and your note will not sound. Instead you have to 'pull' the string before you take your finger off. You do this almost as if you were bending the string down just a tiny little bit. Once you do that, then you can lift your finger off the string, at which time the string will snap back creating the vibrations needed to make the note sound. You don't actually want to hear the string bend, that's not the objective. You're not bending the string, your pulling the string. Just pull the string slighty so it will snap back to create vibrations.
Part II - Exercises For Hammer Ons and Pull Offs