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Thread: hammer ons and pull offs

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2002

    hammer ons and pull offs

    gday everyone. i have many questions on technique but i would like to start with this one. before i ask i should tell you what i am using. i have a 90 model USA strat with a seymor duncun JB jr humbucker in the bridge(i use the bridge pick up mostly) and a ATS sixty hughes and kettner amp.
    my problem is that when i play a slur (hammer and pull off) with out picking the notes i can never get as much volume as actually picking a string. it just sounds half as loud as a picked slur. mind you i play my amp at very low levels and if i do crank up the volume it does get better but you can still tell. is this a problem with my technique? if not can anyone suggest how i could get more sensitivity from my guitar at low volume levels

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    That's not uncommon. I think it comes down to the small details in technique...and lots of practice with those points in mind.

    First of all, make sure you are attacking the string with the very tip of your finger (fingers are arched); the tip of your finger is the hardest part of your finger and will make it easier to press steel to wood. Second, don't allow your fingers to drift far from the fretboard; the less distance they have to travel to the strings, the better. Bruce Lee had what some call the "one inch punch". His hand would be one inch away from his enemy, and his punch from that distance would send them on their can. That's a good example of economy of motion!

    Last, maintain a relaxed left hand (assuming you're right handed); things will flow better if you aren't stiff or tense.

  3. #3
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Hi Peter...

    thereīs not much I could add to jazzIIIīs reply.
    I think itīs cool that you noticed and pay attention to the volume-thing. It often is ignored by many players.
    As an example, Brett Garsed was one of my instructors at the GIT. He has one of the most advanced legato-techniques I have ever seen used.
    He really made me pay attention to making sure that the picked notes ( like i.e. the first note on each string ) would be as loud as the hammered / pulled off notes.
    I used to sit in my room and play chromatic exercises with all fingers of the left hand, picking the first note, hammering the others, trying to adjust the left hand so the notes played by it would be just as loud as the picked ones. The result is that you can create loooong runs with all notes at the same volume, which can sound great.

    BTW, Tony MacAlpine is using something like that... when i.e. playing three notes on one string, he picks the first, hammers the second and picks the third. Does so on all the strings.
    Itīs a cool exercise.
    Warm regards

  4. #4
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Jackson MS

    Another approach to use

    Maybe your picking technique is too heavy?

    Try to pick quietly to match the sound of your hammer ons and pull offs.

    Most legato playing is attempting to reduce the staccato attacks as well as increase the legato hammer on and pull off technique.

    Do this while practicing technique to improve your left hand attack. Hand exercisers are nice for building strength in the fingers.

    Work on exercises that utilize both hammers and pulls with picking and try to equalize all three.

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