Hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides are techniques which allow nuances
of tone and the expression of dynamics on the guitar. These basic
skills will be an essential addition to your “tool bag” of guitar
A hammer-on is accomplished by playing a note on the fretboard and
then “hammering on” (fretting) another note on the same string.
This results in two notes, the second note being higher in pitch
than the first note. A hammer-on gives the picking hand a “break”
since only one note is actually picked, while two notes are played.
Here’s how it works: Pick the D string (the fourth string) open
(without fingering), and then quickly and firmly bring your second
finger down behind the second fret. By doing this you can get two
eighth notes while your picking hand has only been required to pick
a quarter note. Here is another hammer-on: Pick the high E string
(the first string) with your first finger behind the third fret.
Then, quickly and firmly bring your third finger down behind the
fifth fret. The notes are G to A. The hammer-on is such an
excellent way to get two notes while your picking hand only does
the work of one!
A pull-off is the reverse of a hammer-on. The pull-off is
accomplished by picking a fretted note and then releasing the
string to a lower note. Hold your second finger on the D string
behind the second fret and pick–and then very quickly pull your
finger off of the string. Did you hear the two notes? (E followed
A slide is achieved by playing a note on the fretboard and (while
the note is still ringing) sliding the fretting finger up or down
the string to another note. Put your second finger down on the D
string behind the fourth fret. Pick that not and just slide your
finger up one fret. Now do the reverse: Pick the note while your
finger is behind the fifth fret and then quickly slide down to the
Incorporating all three of these techniques into your guitar
playing can help you play faster, since your picking hand executes
fewer notes. Combining these techniques can help you to create some
very fast and interesting licks for your lead guitar solos.