How to Do Pull-Offs on Guitar

Now that you’ve learnt how to do hammer-ons, it's time to learn the opposite technique, the pull-off.

A pull-off is another technique from the legato family which involves moving from a higher note to a lower note. Think of this as a reverse hammer-on.

Pull-offs are slightly trickier to master. With a hammer-on, you have a finger in place, you play a note and then hammer-on to a higher note. With a pull-off, both fingers must be in place ready so that when you pull-off the higher note, there is a finger on the lower note ready to be heard.

As you’re doing a pull-off, you should also try to slightly flick the string downwards. This will add a little extra energy to the string and make the second note sound louder and cleaner than if you just lift the finger directly upward.

How To Pull-Off on Guitar

Here are two exercises to help your pull-offs 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 add your middle finger to the 6th fret on the same string. Play this note, then perform a pull-off back to the 5th fret.

Repeat this exercise by doing a pull-off from the 7th fret with your ring finger and from the 8th fret with your little finger,

This will allow you to build strength in each of your fingers for pull-offs

Guitar Pull-Off Exercise

Exercise 2

This exercise gets you used to doing pull-offs across different strings. One of the trickiest things about doing this is needing to have both fingers in place ready to perform the pull-off. This can make the string transitions quite tricky.

This example is using the A Minor Pentatonic scale, but as this is a moveable shape, you can move this pattern anywhere on the guitar to play the same thing.

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 descend the scale pattern.

Guitar Pull-Off Exercise 2

When you feel like you've got the hang of pull-offs, try to do them in combination with hammer-ons. By mixing up your use of different guitar techniques you can make more interesting and unique lead sections whilst adding flair to your guitar solos.

Go back if you need more help with hammer-ons, or click Next to learn about another lead guitar technique - string bending.

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.