‘Hammer-ons from nowhere’ can blow your guitar playing wide open – and help you craft silky smooth, effortlessly fast and highly impressive solos

Joe Satriani performs onstage
Joe Satriani is Mr Smooth when it comes to legato (Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Hammer-ons and pull-offs have served guitarists faithfully over the decades, evolving from subtle embellishments through to trills and flamboyant flurries of notes. 

During the 70s, players like Jimmy Page (Stairway To Heaven), Eric Clapton (Crossroads), Paul Kossoff (All Right Now), Alvin Lee (I’m Going Home), and Jimi Hendrix (Little Wing) saw the potential for legato technique to facilitate Pentatonic licks that generated speed without requiring much effort from the picking hand. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jamie Hunt

Jamie is a regular contributor to Guitar Techniques and Total Guitar magazines. He is also a Principal Lecturer in guitar and live performance at BIMM Bristol. Alongside this, he shares seven string guitar duties with Steve Smyth (ex-Testament, ex-Nevermore, Forbidden), in the modern thrash metal band One Machine. Additionally, Jamie is the UK brand ambassador for ESP guitars, where he creates product demos and delivers clinics across the UK and throughout the Scandinavian countries. More recently, he co-created the ESP School of Metal Guitar, where a team of versatile metal guitarists break down all things heavy.