Dansm's Guitar Techniques
The Pull-Off

The pull-off 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. It is the exact opposite of the hammer-on, but requires a slight modification of technique. A pull-off is indicated in tab notation by this symbol:
   +   +    
e:---------|
B:-----6p4-|
G:---------|
D:-7p5-----|
A:---------|
E:---------|
The first pull-off is played on the 4th string from the 7th fret to the 5th fret.
The second pull-off is played on the 2nd string from the 6th fret to the 4th fret.
The pull-off's shown above are accomplished by fretting both notes: the higher note with your ring finger and the lower note with your index finger. You then pick the note (and the higher note should sound), and release your ring finger quickly. The string should sound on the lower note after you have released the top finger. This is the most important part of the pull-off: making sure you fret both notes initially, and then making sure that you pull-off quickly enough that the lower note still sounds. You can also pull-off with different fingers, and you can work on this as you get better at them.
The two pull-off's notated above sound like this:
37K wav file
Other fingers can be used in the pull-off. Let's try to play this example:
   +   +    
e:---------|
B:---------|
G:-8p7-----|
D:-----9p7-|
A:---------|
E:---------|
For the first, use your index finger to fret the third string 7th fret, and your middle finger to pull-off the 8th fret. For the second, simply move your index finger down a string to the fourth string 7th fret, and pull-off with your ring finger.
That's about it for the pull-off. They are easy to perform, but do take some practice. The hardest parts are making sure you fret both fingers and that you pull-off quickly enough so that the lower note still sounds. Make sure you try pulling off 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