How to Do Hammer-Ons on Guitar

Hammer-ons are a vital technique for all guitar players to get to grips with. The hammer-on comes from a family of techniques known as legato, which means to join together.

A hammer-on is when you pick a note anywhere on the guitar, and using your fretting hand, hammer onto another note without picking the string again. The motion of hammering onto the string creates more energy in the string which sounds the second note.

To start, pick the 5th fret of the D string, and hammer onto the 7th. Repeat this on the G.

At first, you may find the second note is not as loud, or does not sound at all. This is normal in the early stages as you build finger strength.

How To Hammer-On on Guitar

Here are two exercises to help your hammer-ons improve and your finger strength build.

Exercise 1

This exercise involves playing a note anywhere on the guitar, for demonstration purposes, the note chosen is the 5th fret of the high E string, but this note can be any note, anywhere you choose.

Fret this note with your index finger and then pick this note, and then hammer onto the next fret (in this case the 6th fret) with your middle finger.

Repeat the exercise hammering onto the 7th fret with the third finger and the 8th fret with the little finger.

This will allow you to build strength in each of your fingers for hammer-ons.

Guitar Hammer-On Exercise

Exercise 2

This exercise gets you used to doing hammer-ons across different strings. It moves up a Minor Pentatonic scale. This example is using the A Minor Pentatonic, but as this is a moveable shape, you can move this pattern anywhere on the guitar to play the same thing.

Guitar Hammer-On Exercise 2

When playing this, all the 5th fret notes should be played with your index finger. You can alternate between your third finger for notes on the 7th fret and little finger for notes on the 8th fret as you climb the scale pattern.

When you feel like you've mastered Hammer-Ons, you can move onto learning Pull-Offs - when you learn to use each of these techniques in combination you'll really supercharge your ability to play lead guitar and solo.

This PMT College lesson was brought to you in partnership with, and written by experienced guitar teacher Leigh Fuge. Leigh works as part of a community of guitar teachers based across the UK. Click here to find a teacher near you.