Combining Hammer-Ons and Pull-offs

Combining Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

It's quite common to combine hammer-ons and pull-offs into longer musical phrases. You might play a hammer-on immediately followed by a pull-off, or a pull-off followed by a hammer-on. You might even play several in a row.

Playing Combined Hammer-Ons and Pull-offs

Doing these combinations well means applying all of the advice for both hammer-ons and pull-offs well.

When performing the hammer-on, remember to strike with a quick attack right behind the fret.

When performing the pull-off portion, remember to give the string a bit of a pluck to keep the vibrating energy of the string going.

While you play the entire combination, you should hold down the finger of the lower note.

Once again, be mindful of your rhythm when playing these combos. It's very easy and common mistake to rush some of the rhythms.

Notating Combined Hammer-Ons and Pull-offs

Combined Hammer-On and Pull-Off Notation

To notate combined hammer-ons and pull-offs, we again use the slur (arced line) symbol. You may see the individual notes connected, or you may see an arc written over the entire group of notes. Sometimes the H and P markings are added, other times it is assumed you'll figure it out (hammer-ons go up, pull-offs down).

Get comfortable with seeing this written in several ways.

More Specific Ornaments and Articulations: Mordents and Trills

When these hammer-on/pull-off combos are played very quickly, they are called mordents. When they are played repeatedly, they are called trills.

In upcoming lessons we'll look at these more specific articulations.

Hammer-On/Pull-Off Combo Exercises and Songs

As always, be sure to do the exercises and study some of the songs using hammer-on/pull-off combinations.