Hammer On Guitar Tips

Some of you have asked me how to do a hammer on guitar, so this lesson is going to address that.

A hammer on is very simply hitting a guitar string without plucking or picking it at the same time. So you're just using your left hand for this one. It is a fairly simple technique, but you can use it in some very advanced ways once you've got the hang of it.

Hammer on guitar riffs sound pretty cool, and you can also use hammer ons to throw in chromatic passing notes all over the place. Hammer ons are very often used in conjunction with pull offs, which is a related, but separate technique. Try practicing each technique on its own, and then combining them.

Definitely something worth practicing and mastering...

Side note - if you really want to master hammer on guitar riffs, along with pulloffs, string stretching and all those other cool techniques, I highly recommend checking out the Riff Ninja Academy free trial - once inside checkout the "Essential Guitar Techniques" section, as there are in depth videos on each of these techniques.

Hammer On Guitar Tips:

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12 Responses to “Hammer On Guitar Tips”

  1. Jesse James September 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Hi Jonathan,
    Would you be able to go through that song by Kid Rock called "All Summer Long"?

    I thought I would also mention that in some of the riffs my hand and brain are starting to become one. What I notice is that when I am tensed up and trying to focus it is really a lot harder, but when I am just sitting and fooling around with no thought of doing much it comes out so much better. Have any stress relieving ideas to do so I can focus and still be able to do what I do when I am not focusing?

    Thanks for any thoughts,
    Jesse J

  2. Jonathan Boettcher September 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi Jesse, I'll look up that song, I'm not familiar with it offhand.

    Great to hear your fingers are starting to work more automatically... that is indeed the goal. Haha, stress relief is a pretty big topic, and you'll find a million opinions on that. A lot of people will tell you they actually play their guitar for stress relief... sorry I can't be of more help on that one!

    • Jesse James September 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

      Okay, thanks for the effort in that question Doc Jonathan.
      It is like I try to hard I think when that stress comes through, but I just keep on trucking with it.

      Thank you for all your insights that you pass on to all of us who are in search of being better on the guitar. What I am doing is getting addicted to the time I am spending on it, whereas, before it was so up and down. It is good to get to a point where you see progress, one great incentive to move forward.

      • George June 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

        Hammer ons are alot of fun. Good Lesson. Just wondered Jesse James, Do you work for Superior Essex.? Thanks George Roloson

        • Jesse James June 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

          Hi Mr Rolson
          Just thought I would respond to your question. No I don't work there. Where abouts are you living? I live in Edmonton, Alberta.
          This is one great site to learn from, and it has been helping me out. Jonathan is a real gift in helping everybody out.
          I am doing some hammeron's now, and they are just part of me now. For eg. While I am in D, and if I go to G, I hammer on the G,and B notes when I have to go back to D quickly, and it is working out pretty good and gives a little different sound to some tunes. Sometimes I will hammer on G while doing the odd riff with the other finger next to the thumb, when I can. It is fun to try different things, and I am more relaxed now instead of being so uptight when I am playing. In conclusion, my fingers are now going automatic into other chords and ect, and seems to be in one with the brain. Pete helped me with this, and it works pretty good now. Thanks Pete

    • Jesse James September 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

      Hi Jonathan
      That song by Kid Rock "All Summer Long" is on the c.d. "Rockin Roll Jesus [clean]. It also has a few riffs of Sweet Home Alabama in it. This may help you in finding it when you can.
      Thanks
      Jesse J

  3. Pete February 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    In answer to Jesse J, The fact that you find it more difficult to play when you are focussing hard and tensing up is that you are using your conscious mind. The process of daily practice and absolute familiarity with all of the notes and sounds that your instrument makes by moving your fingers in a certain way is the whole point of regular, daily playing. What eventually happens is that it all becomes part of your subconscious and your body memory, you don't even have to "think" (Conscious mind) about it any more and your conscious mind is free to go wherever and execute whatever it needs to produce the right sounds.

    • Jesse James February 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

      Hi Pete,
      Thanks a lot for your comment here. The way you worded it really helps to clarify things moreso.
      I have been picking up the guitar and trying this as of late and just start strumming along without giving so much thought into it, and it flows easier. I am finding there are some songs that are coming along better. I am not great by any means, but it is encouraging to improve in this. This is something that I am trying to do more and more, and it makes it more enjoyable to practice.
      It seems that when I start to focus it all goes astray for me, and I just put it down for a while. It is getting easier for me in doing this, but along way to go.
      Thank you for your support and comments.
      Jesse

  4. justin September 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    yep. these are already second nature to me. But, that because of your lessons!

  5. ozzy January 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks Jon. By the way, I've noticed that your catagories section is getting quite extensive. Thats cool, I like that. Take care ,bro.

  6. gomaonaigh July 4, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    good stuff Jonny--you re a good tutor like meself---Ger the Guitarman

  7. Douglas November 26, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    Another good way to learn hammer on and pull off is to go up and the neck, the first two frets our really hard to do for pull off s but you keep working on it you well find a way to make it work

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