Hi there, welcome to a lesson focusing on the Hammer- On technique commonly found in almost every genre of guitar inclusive music. Playing guitar would be no where near as exciting and interesting without the array of techniques used to spice up what could be an average sounding phrase.
This technique is best described as when you play a note and then one or more notes after the original note are played without picking again. If you imagine your 1st finger is your elbow resting on a table and that your 3rd finger is the head of the hammer striking the table. This is the same idea as your third finger hammering onto a fret whilst your first finger is already placed on a fret before the hammered note.
Example 1- Simple Hammer- on
Taking 4 notes on the guitar and trying to execute a clean and even hammer- on is your first challenge. Attempt to make the hammered note sound as loud as the picked note before it and make sure that as you hammer down with your third finger that you are aiming to strike the string in the middle of the fret to avoid fret buzz. If you want to work on building speed with a simple phrase such as the one above then use a metronome to gauge your progress. Start out at 80 bpm playing two notes per a click making sure to use the hammer- on technique throughout, by this I mean only pick the notes on the 5th fret and hammer the 7th fret notes.
Example 2 starts out the same as Example 1 but then builds the phrase into an A minor Pentatonic scale played with hammer- ons. This time the fourth finger is used to hammer on notes on the low E, B and high E strings, this may at first feel difficult to get enough sound out of your hammer on, be persistent. You can use example 2 as the building blocks for using the hammer- on technique with any positions of your Major or Minor Pentatonic scale. If you do not know all your positions of those scales then you may be interested in Be The Guitarist.
Example 2- Minor Pentatonic Hammer- ons
Example 3 is in 6/8 time signature which means we are playing six 1/8th notes instead of a possible 8 (as seen in 4/4). This exercise uses one octave of the A Aeolian scale and advances your hammer-on technique by progressing to three notes in a row. This time you will pick the 5th fret low E and then hammer with your third finger onto the 7th fret and then hammer with your fourth finger onto the 8th fret. Each time you hammer you should keep the finger before the hammered note on its fret as you strike the string. When you change strings for the next set of hammered notes you will need to pick the 5th fret note and then continue with hammers as you did on the low E string. This will allow you to develop a fluent Legato technique, legato simply meaning to play smoothly. Legato is a technique heavily used by players such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai but is used in so many songs that it is a must have technique to spice up your playing.
Example 3- Aeolian Scale Hammer- ons
Come back soon for more guitar technique lessons on topics such as Pulls- Offs, Slides and Bends. If you are interested in learning some completely different topics then find a lesson to suit you in the blog section of the site.