Bends, Slides, Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs on Guitar

Bends, Slides, Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs on Guitar

Start embellishing your solos
Explore hammer ons, pull offs, sliding and bending with the minor pentatonic scale.
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What You'll Learn

Pull offs are an essential guitar playing technique.  To play a pull off, your fretting hand pulls off one note with enough force to sound another note on the same string.  Pull offs can also be part of other guitar playing techniques, like tapping or legato for example.

Pull offs sound at least 2 notes on the same string.  Simple guitar pull offs would require only one finger on any fret ‘pulling off’ to sound the open string.  For example, play the 2nd fret of any string and pull off your fretting finger with enough force to make the open string sound.  That is an example of a simple guitar pull off.

A guitar hammer on another essential guitar playing technique.  Hammering on guitar is like a reverse guitar pull off.  Hammering on guitar requires the fretting hand to hit (or hammer) a fret hard enough that it sounds the string clearly.  Hammer ons must sound 2 or more notes on the same string.

Since hammer ons and pull offs are similar techniques (but playing notes in a reverse order), they are often played together, one after the other.  If you’re new to using hammer ons and pull offs then keep it simple…  Let’s focus on the 2nd fret of any string (just an example).  Now, (1) play the open string, (2) hammer on the 2nd fret of that string and then (3) pull off from the 2nd fret (the same fret you hammered on).  If you do this correctly then you only need to pick the string once, but you’ll play 3 notes.

Hammer Ons and Pull Offs

Learning guitar pull offs and how to do a hammer on guitar are two of the most essential guitar playing techniques.  These techniques are also somewhat unique to guitar since you’d really need a stringed instrument with frets in order to use these techniques.  Both techniques are executed by your fretting hand (it doesn’t matter if you’re right-handed or left-handed).  Also, both techniques require at least 2 or more notes that you want to play in quick succession.  In this course, you’ll learn how these techniques are played, used and practiced.  

Pentatonic Pull Offs

The pentatonic scale has been used heavily by every musician since the dawn of time.  Aside from being a very musical scale with tons of soloing potential, it is also a great way to practice pull offs.  Pull offs can entail more than 2 notes, but most beginners will be most comfortable starting with 2-note pull offs.  The pentatonic is a great scale for practicing pull offs because it always has 2 notes per string.

Pentatonic Hammer Ons

Since hammer ons and pull offs are closely related techniques, the pentatonic scale is also a great way to practice hammer ons.  Just like their cousins – the pull off – hammer ons can entail more than 2 notes.  But, most beginners will prefer starting out with 2-note hammer ons.  The pentatonic is a great scale for practicing both hammer ons and pull offs because it always has 2 notes per string. Lesson #4 will show you how to practice with the pentatonic scale.

Using Hammer Ons and Pull Offs

Most styles of music, where guitar is a featured instrument, will use hammer ons and pull offs.  From Blues to Rock, Jazz to Flamenco, these techniques are used to great stylistic effect.  Often hammer ons and pull offs are used by the player to create interesting rhythmic or dynamic phrases.

String Slides

String slides are a very stylistic – meaning that they often reinforce a player’s intended genre or style.  String slides are a highly expressive option for gluing notes together into music phrases.  In lesson #5, you’ll get a good introduction to learning guitar slides.

Using String Slides

Every guitarist should learn to connect and/or punctuate their phrases with appropriate and expressive techniques.  After you get an introduction to string slides in lesson #5, you’ll learn (in the follow up lesson) how to practice this technique – again relying on the pentatonic scale.  The trickiest thing to master about string slides is precision… It is important not to slide too far.

String Bends

String bends are a also very stylistic – very typical of blues phrasing.  But, string bends can effectively reinforce a player’s expressiveness by allowing pitches beyond the tuned fret.  String bends are a great way to link notes together into flowing, vocal-like phrases.  In lesson #7, you’ll get a good introduction to learning guitar slides.

Using String Bends

Round out your arsenal of expressive guitar techniques with string bends.  In lessons #7 and #10 you will get an introduction to string bends AND learn how to practice them.  The most common challenge that guitar students face with string bends is bending the pitch precisely and with enough force and control.  In addition to developing this skill through practice and repetition, it is important to consider when and why to use string bends (as opposed to the other embellishment techniques in this course).

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

In this course, you’ll be introduced to how these techniques are played AND why they are used.   Learning these guitar-specific embellishments is required for guitarists who want to emulate their favorite guitarists and play familiar solos.  Even if you’re a late-beginner/intermediate guitarist who doesn’t feel confident with these techniques – you will after this course.  By approaching these techniques in the context of the minor pentatonic scale you’ll also graduate with a framework for improvising and soloing with them in a more musical way 🙂

Where You’ll Start…

This course dives right into the most common embellishments for guitar: Hammer ons and pull offs, slides and bends.  This course is intended for beginners, so the demos are basic and easy to follow.  You’ll start by learning these 4 embellishments.  The course outlines effective practice methods and provides context for using these techniques coherently in your own playing.

Better Style

I’ve often taught my students how to properly execute these embellishments by bringing their attention to a few important guidelines that I share in this course:

  • Practicing them effectively for better style
  • Considering the unique rhythmic and melodic potential
  • Connecting these to the minor pentatonic scale in particular

When You’re Finished…

One of the crucial skills that moves a beginner guitarist into the intermediate realm is learning to execute hammer ons and pull offs, slides and bends. These techniques offer a range of expressive possibilities while also imparting undeniable style to your phrases.  This course is introductory in nature and offers the beginner valuable insights for developing these important skills.



What's Included?

Will Edwards

  • 31mins of video
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What students say...

Nice course, Will.

Rated 5 out of 5
February 9, 2022

Your guidance on using the pentatonics was very helpful. Much appreciated!

Lee H

Great Course For Me

Rated 5 out of 5
October 2, 2021

I’m a pretty late bloomer, I guess. I’ve tried to learn beatles solos on guitar or some skynyrd and I just couldn’t get it. I really wanted a way to practice bending especially and when you suggested this course and using the scale to practice with, well that made a world of difference. Great help, thank you.

Al Leonard

How Do I Use Them?

Rated 4 out of 5
August 14, 2021

This course covers good stuff for me as a beginner. Can I email you about some questions I have?

Tim Portillas

Pretty Basic

Rated 3 out of 5
June 15, 2021

Too basic. I want to get better, but this only helped me a little bit.

Cam Whittley

Just Right

Rated 5 out of 5
June 3, 2021

I love that these are so simple! I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos where the players are so much better than me :). But, I can’t always tell if I’m doing these things correctly. So, it was really helpful to just watch these basic videos. Thank you! I’;ll be signing up for more.

Lia Palmer

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