lesson we'll be introduced to the guitar pull off technique and
then we'll move on to some all important finger exercises to get all
What are pull offs?
The inverse of hammer
a pick-free way of
sounding a particular note/string. You basically lift off the fretted
string as usual, but pull
away with your finger so the string gets lightly plucked.
Therefore, it's like your fret hand is doing
the picking. You'll see this in action in the videos in a minute...
Pull offs add texture to your
solos and allow you to create descending runs and phrases quickly and
smoothly, often called "rolls" or "slurs", without the percussive effect of the
pick separating the notes.
Let's get straight into some
videos and basic
guitar pull off exercises
The pull off is like the opposite of the hammer on. So, we start on the
fretted string/note and use the pull off technique to make a quick,
smooth descent down the fretboard, to a lower note
we're playing. A finger should already be fretted in place
ready to "catch" the pull off...
We need to get all our fingers
involved in the different interval movements we'll likely come across
when playing scales.
good place to begin is with the below minor pentatonic scale box
which you can position at any fret, but in this example,
we're at the
5th fret on the low E string (which makes it the A minor pentatonic
Fret your index/1st finger on
the high e string,
in the position above. With your index finger still fretted,
fret your 4th finger in its designated position on that same string.
important to have that index finger ready to "catch" the pull off
you'll make with your 4th finger.
When you're in
position, pick the string as usual and, about a second later, pull your
4th finger away so you're lightly plucking the string. Watch the video
below to see how it's done...
Now, there's a
fine balance to attain here - you need to pull away enough so the
string will be plucked and resonate, but not so much that you bend the
string out of
pitch. This will come with time and practise!
So don't just lift
off the string, as the resonance of the following note will be too
weak. Rather, pull
off! That's why it's called what it is!
Here's how we would tab the above sequence, with the "p" symbol telling
us to play the two notes either side using a pull off...
OK, now let's try exactly the same thing, but on the G string of that
pentatonic pattern from above.
So, like before, first fret your index finger "base". Then we're going
to pull off our 3rd finger a whole step higher...
try not to actually bend
the string out of pitch as you're pulling off.
Obviously you'll have to bend the string a tiny bit to actually pluck
it, but try to minimise that string movement. It'll just take time and
When pulling off
under gain/distortion, how a lot of lead guitar solos are played,
the resonance of the pulled-off note will be a lot stronger and your
pull off action can be more subtle. However, it's good to learn the
technique playing clean first so you don't cut any corners.
So, there are two commonly used pull off intervals we've covered above.
Now try working the pull off action from the high E to low E string, in
the full pentatonic scale from above...
should start slow with any technique and gradually build up speed with
to keep the timing smooth and constant, no matter what speed you play
let the pull offs flow or "roll" into each other. At first, you'll
experience unwanted noise from other strings, but as your pull offs
become more accurate, you'll minimise this noise. Each note needs to
sound cleanly and clearly!
The next logical step is to move up
and down the scale pattern. Try and
come up with your own little pentatonic pull off sequences. For example:
more than one pull off per string
Once we're comfortable with
the basic technique, we can
move onto larger phrases, using more than one pull off per string to
create a kind of rolling, slurred effect.
So, exactly the same pull off
technique as before, but you're going to follow the first pull off
with another. This is where you can draw from scale patterns with more
than two notes per string. For example, the natural minor scale in its
box form (also the 6th degree pattern of the major scale)...
Starting on the high E
And now a roll down the top two strings, 3 notes per string...
When speeded up, this
is known as legato playing - a straight slur of notes with no breaks
(more on this type of playing another time!)...
Try the tab exercises below. The first string of pull-offs (represented by the "p" in tabs) is
broken up by 2 "resting notes".
The next involves a straight run of pull-offs from high E to low E.
Remember, we're picking the first note on each string and pulling off
two consecutive notes (with the exception of the G string which is one