Hammer Ons and Pull Offs

Learning to use hammer ons and pull offs is vital if you want to improve your playing. Both concepts are simple and requires hardly any explanation but can be quite tricky to put into practice.

Hammer Ons

Tab Notation : Hammer Ons

The above tab shows an example of a tab with hammer ons. The curved line with H.O above it is the notation given in tabs and as you can see it spans across 2 notes. Sometimes, the H.O will be omitted as it’s quite obvious if it should be a hammer on or pull off. In addition, in ASCII tabs hammer ons can be shown using anĀ h or ^; for example 0h2 or 0^2.

Playing a hammer on is easy in theory. You basically play the first note, then hammer on your finger to play the second note while letting the string ring. For example the first hammer on in the tab above is on the bottom E string. You would play the open string, then hit the second fret without plucking. An example of a hammer on can be heard below.

Listen to a hammer on:

Pull Offs

Tab Notation : Pull Offs

The notation for pull offs is similar to that for hammer ons, as can be seen above. Again, the P.O may be omitted. In ASCII tabs pull offs are usually shown using a p or ^.

Pull offs can be done by first pressing down on a fret, picking it, then pulling your finger down quickly before letting go of the string (a motion a lot like scratching). Obviously before you release the string your other finger must be pressing down on the next fret to be played.

For example, at the start of the tab above you must press on the 4th fret and pick it. When you are ready to carry out the pull off, you must give the string a quick pull downwards before letting go of it while holding down the 2nd fret.

Listen to a pull off:

A pull off is harder to carry out than a hammer on so keep practicing and once you are quite comfortable with it. Try playing the hammer on tab above, immediately followed by the pull off tab (i.e. combine the two).

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