Dansm's Guitar Techniques
The Hammer-On

The hammer-on is one of the most widely used techniques for soloing. It is very simple and can be applied in many different ways to many different situations. A hammer-on is indicated in tab notation by this symbol:
   +   +    
e:---------|
B:-----5h7-|
G:---------|
D:-4h6-----|
A:---------|
E:---------|
The first hammer-on is played on the 4th string from the 4th fret to the 6th fret.
The second hammer-on is played on the 2nd string from the 5th fret to the 7th fret.
The hammer-on's shown above are accomplished by fretting the desired note with your index finger, picking the note, then hammering your ring finger down onto the desired higher fret. Make sure you keep the index finger down until slightly after you fret the higher note. This is the most important part of the hammer-on: making sure your index finger isn't moved before you place your ring finger on the higher note. You can also hammer-on with different fingers, and you can work on this as you get better at them.
The two hammer-on's notated above sound like this:
42K wav file
Other fingers can be used in the hammer-on. Let's try to play this example:
   +   +    
e:---------|
B:---------|
G:-----7h9-|
D:-7h8-----|
A:---------|
E:---------|

For the first, use your index finger to fret the fourth string 7th fret, and your middle finger to hammer-on the 8th fret. For the second, simply move your index finger up a string to the third string 7th fret, and hammer-on with your ring finger.
That's about it for the hammer-on. They are easy to perform, but do take some practice. The hardest parts are making sure you hold down your index finger until after you fret the higher note with your ring finger. Make sure you try hammering with other fingers, because this versatility is required when performing complex solos later. Good luck with this new technique!
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1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 8-30-97