Hammer-ons and pull-offs are some of the first techniques beginner lead guitarists learn, and they are some of the easiest.
For the uninitiated, the idea is to sound a note with a fretting finger without picking the string - it’s done by either hammering down hard on the string or pulling off to essentially re-pick it. Simple!
Here, we’re looking at ways to take these ideas a step further by using a technique known as legato - when you use a mixture of hammer-ons and pull-off s one after the other. Try out these exercises and hone your skills.
Example 1. Spinal Hammer
Kick off your legato workout with this triplet lick. If you struggle, just focus on each three-note grouping one at a time - on their own, these groupings are great beginner level legato licks.
Example 2. Getcha Pull-off
This line will incorporate pull-offs with a variation on notes-per-string. Practicing this will allow you to become more fluent in changing strings at will.
3. Challenge! Diminishing Returns
This smooth Allan Holdsworth-inspired line uses both hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a seamless flow of notes.
It looks pretty scary, but there’s a shortcut! Learn the first eight notes, then shift up a semitone and repeat the same pattern again. This repeats all the way up to the third string, before the final first-string lick.
Start slow: 60-90 BPM
It’s a weaving, windy lick, so, at a gentle tempo, make it your aim to memorize the notes.
Speed it up: 90-120 BPM
Hammer-ons and pull-offs are actually easier played at some speed. Find a moderate sweet spot.
Legato Master Tempo: 120-150 BPM
When playing at such fearsome speeds just make sure not to let your accuracy slip.