In the introductory guitar
pull off lesson,
we learned how to apply the basic pull off technique. This lesson will
provide you with some more challenging pull off exercises to help
in that muscle memory and prepare you for applying pull offs in your
licks and solos.
As you start to incorporate legato (of which
pull offs play an integral part) into your lead phrases, you'll be able
to play faster and more fluidly, no longer limited by how fast you can pick. As you'll
hopefully realise by the end of this lesson, pull offs are one of the
key elements for playing
forget to start slow and speed up gradually using a metronome.
2 notes per string pull off exercises
Many soloing phrases involve a repeating sequence of pull offs using
only two notes per string.
For the following exercise, I'm going to use the following
that this pattern can be used for both minor and
major pentatonic. For minor, use the index (1) finger position on the E
strings as the root. For major, use the 4th finger position on the E
strings for the root.
We'll start by using two pull offs per string as demonstrated in the
sequence will go like this: pick
- pull off - pick
- pull off - pick
pull off - etc.
In the below tab, the symbol
means "down pick" and the symbol
means "up pick". So we're using alternate picking as usual,
but between each pick is a pull off, effectively halving the
number of picks that need to be made.
above example uses the B minor / D major pentatonic scale, but the
pattern is, of course, movable depending on the key in which you're
Don't forget to work on the same exercise moving up the pattern.
we need to get all our fingers involved in pulling off. The below
exercise uses the phrygian dominant scale in a stepped pattern, but
we're still applying exactly the same pick - pull - pick - pull
sequence as before.
Learn the fingering for this pattern before you tackle the tab.
Once up to a decent speed (use a metronome!),
that's more like something we might use in a solo.
Try coming up with your own 2 string pull off exercises using scale
patterns you know.
3 notes per string pull off exercises
For most seven note (heptatonic) scales, your legato playing will
involve three notes per string. This is more physically demanding for
your fingers, but like with anything you just need to practice and
build up speed gradually, ideally using the metronome.
Let's start with a typical 3.n.p.s. major scale pattern...
Again, learn the fingering for that pattern before you work on the
exercises. You only have to learn it once and you'll likely be using it
throughout your entire guitar playing life!
We're going use exactly the same technique as earlier - pulling off the
sequence of three notes on each string twice. But instead
of picking once every two notes as before, we're picking once every three notes.
So, the sequence is now: pick
- pull - pull - pick
- pull - pull - pick
- pull - pull - etc. as demonstrated in the below video...
Remember, each pick
is alternated: down - up - down - up etc. to economise movement.
Here's how we would play that with the root of the scale on B...
You can now download interactive software specifically designed to
improve your speed, timing and lead technique (bends, tapping, legato
etc.). It's called the Finger
Trainer and it's more fun and effective than any metronome. No more
boring practice drills...
Once we've mastered that, it's time to make the sequence a little more
interesting by staggering it in different ways. For example...
These legato runs will sound better and better as you speed up. Take
your time and only touch the BPM on the metronome when you can play
confidently at the current tempo.
The other way to play three notes per string patterns is to use what is
known as a pedal note
or pedal point.
This means we're now pulling off to
the same note on each string from
different notes. Not easy to put into words, so take a look at the
below video for a demonstration of how this would play out on the
high E string...
So we're pulling off to the lowest note on the string, alternating
between the higher notes.
We're back to picking every other note for this: pick - pull - pick - pull - pick - pull - etc.
You could just repeat a single string phrase like that, but let's try
incorporating this pedal technique into a larger phrase as follows...
That would work great as a bluesy lick in the key of G#/Ab. You should
of course also try it on lower string pairings (B-G, G-D etc.).
Let's apply this pedal technique to the major scale pattern from
In fact, we can chromaticise this type of sequence and create a very
effective warm up exercise...
Move up and down the sequence across all 6 strings.
Also, try different fingering combinations. For example, the above was:
4p1 3p1 2p1...
...so this time let's try: 3p1 4p1 2p1
Triplet pull off exercises
A triplet is a (most often quickly played) succession of 3 notes. We
can play these triplets a lot faster simply by using legato such as
A prime example of this is to pull off between two notes on one string
and then play the 3rd note on a string above or below.
In the example below, we're using the usual pick - pull - pick - pull
pattern, but we need to think about economising our picking to allow
for playing at greater speed. I've again marked on the pick strokes,
and you can see how we start with an up stroke so we're
picking in the direction
of travel, to the string below.
I could provide a thousand and one examples, but I think we now have
foundation pull off techniques to work on and build our own exercises
Try combining the techniques we've looked at, as one large
legato phrase or mixed with regular picked scale phrases. The more you
mix it up and challenge yourself, the more confident and technical your
playing will start to become.
I hope this lesson has given you the speed boost you need for your lead