Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hammer On Guitar Notes

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Image Source: Http://lifehacker.com

Today we're going to learn all about "Hammer Ons".

No... Not the indestructible MC Hammer, Hammerhead sharks, Hammer drills, nor the hammers from the Pink Floyd movie, or the legendary Jan Hammer hammering out a brilliant keyboard riff.

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But today is all about a special way of playing guitar notes on the guitar fretboard. We bang down the second note onto the target fret, (instead of picking it), and we call this banging action a "hammer on".

A "Hammer On" is denoted by the letter 'h' in downloaded Tabs. The 'h' will always appear right before the note that's to be hammered. In real tablature the hammer on is noted with an arc that is above the two notes.

|-------------| 1st String
|---7-h-9-----| 2nd String
|-------------| 3rd String
|-------------| 4th String
|-------------| 5th String
|-------------| 6th String

A hammer on involves two or more notes, but we only pick the string once. Using the example above; here is how it works. Your 1st finger presses down on the 7th fret, you pick the string, your 3rd finger hammers down on the 9th fret, you also continue to press down on the 7th fret with your first finger.

To play a Hammer On:
  • Place your first finger on the 7th fret of the 2nd string.
  • Pick the second string.
  • Continue to hold down the 7th fret; bang your 3rd finger onto the 9th fret.

If we play another note after the hammer on, we can play a triplet like this:

|---------7---| 1st String
|---7-h-9-----| 2nd String
|-------------| 3rd String
|-------------| 4th String
|-------------| 5th String
|-------------| 6th String

Moving pictures are worth many thousand words, and so here are some really good video clips about how to play Hammer Ons.

First up is a good beginners lesson on hammer ons from Jody Worell:





Here is a more detailed beginner's lesson about Hammer Ons:




Now here is what we can get to by using a heap of hammer on triplets, with open strings. This is not easy to do and will take a lot of practice, but it sure sounds good when the dude plays it in front of the backing track. For some strange reason, this YouTube video can occasionally be painfully slow to load in.




Finally, one for the heavy metal guys, where they can use hammer ons to play scales on the low strings inbetween chords. This is called doing "hammer on legato scale riffs". This will take quite a bit of practice, but it sure sounds good once it's all working:



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Enjoy,
Big Passy Wasabi

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