Hammer-ons & Pull-offs

Hammer-ons and Pull-offs are the most common types of slurs that are used in guitar playing. A hammer-on occurs when a note is played and a left hand finger comes down on  another fret and creates the sound of another note. The second note will sound smoother than the first because it was not picked. Pull-offs are basically the opposite of hammer-ons in that a fretted note is played and then afterward the left hand finger is removed so as to create the sound of a new note. As with the hammer-on, the second note will sound smoother than the first because it was not picked but created by the movement of the left hand finger.

Most guitar players find that they are able to do slurs more easily with the index and middle fingers than with the others because of the greeter coordination of these fingers. Anyone who is able to develop the ring finger and pinky fingers of the left hand will be able to play much more challenging music than those who don’t. This is especially true of the pinky finger. Over my 14 years of teaching guitar lessons, the biggest technical weakness that I have seen in beginner level guitarists is the lack of strength and dexterity in the pinky. I sometimes recommend working exclusively on Hammer-on and pull-off exercises with the pinky finger because it can make an immediate difference in one’s ability to play almost anything.