Until now, we were just fretting strings and playing. Now we will look at how to perform three very commonly used left hand techniques: hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides.
Play the 1st string open. Right after playing, Hammer your pointer down onto the first fret. Note the sound it produces. If it doesn’t produce much sound, then maybe you aren’t hammering hard enough, or your fingers haven’t grown strong enough.
It will sound like a very smooth transition from E to F. Unlike the sound produced by picking both notes individually. Now try this: fret the 1st string on 2nd fret and play it. Now hammer your ring finger down on the 4th fret to produce another note.
Hammer-on is represented in tab form with an ‘h’. Here is the tab form of the above two exercises:
Pull-off is the opposite of hammer-on. As its name tells, you will play a fret, and pull your finger off the fret. Try this simple exercise: Play first string on fret 1, using your pointer. Now pull the pointer off (a little towards the floor), sounding the open 1st string. Remember, you aren’t supposed to just lift your finger off, you are actually using the pointer to lightly pluck the string. Pulloff is represented in tab form with a ‘p’.
Complication arises when we are supposed to do a pulloff on strings other than 1st string. Such pull-offs require a little more practice. Here is an exercise for practicing pulloffs and hammers:
Slide, as its name tells, means when you play a note, and slide your left hand finger to another fret (without lifting it up), retaining the sound. Try this, play the 1st string on fret 3. Slide the finger that has fretted the string to the 5th fret. Remember to keep the string pressed down. Now slide it back to 3rd fret. Notice how the note ‘slides’ into another note.
Slides are also very commonly used in almost every style of guitar playing. They are represented in tab form using an ‘s’ or a ‘/’ or ‘\’.
You probably know how to play open chords by now. Open chords are chords which have one or more strings played open. In this lesson, you will learn to play barre chords, which are a bit difficult to play.
This is a certain F Major chord: [1 3 3 2 1 1].
This is not very easy to grab. It involves the placement of a bar. Your pointer will cover the whole of the first fret. This is called ‘placing a bar’. Here is an image showing the F Major chord:
Now don’t immediately start trying to grab this chord. I will explain the process of placing a bar first.
Here is an image of a correctly placed bar. The first knuckle from the top should be between the 3rd and 4th strings. Your finger should be a little bit tilted, as in the image (the right side of the finger is a little bit raised, and more of the left side is actually holding the strings down).
You will find placing the bar a difficult job in the beginning. This is because your finger and thumb are not strong enough. Infact, don’t expect yourself to produce much sound at first. Just keep practicing. Don’t overdo it; you don’t want to end up with bleeding fingers.
When you have managed to place a bar, place the rest of your fingers in position, and then strum the chord. Chances are, you will not hear anything, because it is unlikely that your fingers are stong enough to grab the chord. However, once your fingers grow strong, you should hear the F Major chord upon strumming the chord.