3 Shape Pattern Of Hammer-On Technique

author: TheSixthWheel date: 05/25/2007 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.7 / votes: 167 
The following exercises are designed to be played firstly at a slow speed so you can evenly sound out the notes. Only when you are comfortable with it should you increase the speed. This 3 shape pattern will let you appreciate the power of the 'rolling hammer-on' or 'double hammer-on'. I am writing this presuming that you people already know what a hammer-on is. Please refer to hammer-ons in the main lessons section if you are unsure. We will start with the first of the 3 shapes, this shape being the 2, 3, 5 (2nd fret, 3rd fret, 5th fret). The 2nd fret is picked. The 3rd fret is a hammer-on, as is the 5th fret. I have included the left hand fingering underneath.

The First Shape

2, 3, 5.
Fig.1
|-------------------------------2h3h5--|E
|-------------------------2h3h5--------|B
|-------------------2h3h5--------------|G
|-------------2h3h5--------------------|D
|-------2h3h5--------------------------|A
|-2h3h5--------------------------------|E
 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4
For anyone who doesnt't understand the meaning of 'left hand fingering' -- follow the numbers running underneath the tab. 1=1st finger, 2=2nd, etc. Like the other 2 main shapes to come, you can run up and down the fretboard with this basic shape, wherever you want. Try playing just 2 or maybe 3 strings with this shape: eg. Using only the D and G strings, play the first shape of 2, 3, 5 on the D string, then the same shape on the G string straight after, then back to the D string. Play in a loop like this:
Fig.2
|------------------------------------------|E
|------------------------------------------|B
|-------2h3h5-------2h3h5-------2h3h5------|G
|-2h3h5-------2h3h5-------2h3h5------------|D
|------------------------------------------|A
|------------------------------------------|E
 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4
Now try adding something new to this 'rolling' pattern. Try ascending the 2, 3, 5 shape one fret at a time after you've played both the D string and the G string. It can go as high as you like up the strings, like this:
Fig.3
|-------------------------------------------|E
|-------------------------------------------|B
|-------2h3h5-------3h4h6-------4h5h7-------|G
|-2h3h5-------3h4h6-------4h5h7-------------|D
|-------------------------------------------|A
|-------------------------------------------|E
Please note that the same 'shape' as the 2, 3, 5 is applicable, with the 1st, 2nd and 4th fingers.

The Second Shape

3, 5, 7. This is a very similar pattern as in Fig.1, only this time we've spread out the 1st and 2nd fingers that were forming the 2nd fret and the 3rd fret.
Fig.4
|-------------------------------3h5h7-------|E
|-------------------------3h5h7-------------|B
|-------------------3h5h7-------------------|G
|-------------3h5h7-------------------------|D
|-------3h5h7-------------------------------|A
|-3h5h7-------------------------------------|E
And same as before, you can play this shape over just 2 or 3 strings, like in Fig.2. You can also take this shape one fret higher each time like in Fig.3.

The Third Shape

5, 7, 8. This shape is just a mirror image of our first shape, the 2, 3, 5.
Fig.5
|-------------------------------5h7h8------------|E
|-------------------------5h7h8------------------|B
|-------------------5h7h8------------------------|G
|-------------5h7h8------------------------------|D
|-------5h7h8------------------------------------|A
|-5h7h8------------------------------------------|E
 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3
Note that some players may like to use a different method of fingering for this shape and introduce their 3rd finger onto to 7th fret and the 4th finger onto the 8th fret, and it doesn't really matter as long as the notes are there. Although the existing fingering is merely a recommendation, keep in mind that everyone will find one of the suggested ways more comfortable than the other. Also, as you take this shape higher one fret at a time like the previous shapes (Fig.3), you'll find your shape shrinking, that's why I allow for the fingering pattern of 1, 2, 3. To save space when we start running out the higher we go. Now, all that's left to do is split up the shapes into their appropriate order. Fig.1/Fig.4/Fig.5 is displayed (ascending) over the D string and G string below:
Fig.6
|-------------------------------------------|E
|-------------------------------------------|B
|-------2h3h5-------3h5h7-------5h7h8-------|G
|-2h3h5-------3h5h7-------5h7h8-------------|D
|-------------------------------------------|A
|-------------------------------------------|E
 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 3 1 2 3
The above exercise shows how use of the 3 specific shapes can be seamlessly carrying on from the one before. As you can see, each shape is played twice; once on the D string, and once on the G string. Using your own creative playing styles, try making up your own patterns like this. Now for one last exercise to really open up the possibilities for shredding/left hand speed. We can use one or all of the above shapes as shown in Fig.7. to introduce the inbred half-cousin of the hammer-on, the pull-off. Knowing that Pull-offs are like the exact opposite of a hammer-on, try combining the two techniques of hammer-ons and pull-offs into a loop:
Fig.7
|-----------------------------------------------|E
|-----------------------------------------------|B
|--------7h8h10p8p7-------------7h8h10p8p7--etc-|G
|-7h8h10------------10p8p7h8h10-----------------|D
|-----------------------------------------------|A
|-----------------------------------------------|E
 1 2 4 1 2 4 2 1 4 2 1 2 4 1 2 4
The above exercise shows how use of the 3 specific shapes can be seamlessly carried on from the one before. it's quite good because it allows your right hand freedom. We only have to pick a total of 4 times in Fig.7. But get a total of 18 notes out of it! For a real challenge, try picking every note. Fig.7 is exactly the same shape as in Fig.1 - except it starts on the 7th fret instead of the 2nd. You can follow on in this way, creeping your way higher and higher each time. Try playing the 3 shapes in order like in Fig.6 but this time add the first shape again from your 7th fret, to start the 3 shape cycle all over again, like this:
Fig.8
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|E
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|B
|-------2h3h5-------3h5h7-------5h7h8--------7h8h10---------8h10h12--|G
|-2h3h5-------3h5h7-------5h7h8-------7h8h10--------8h10h12----------|D
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|A
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|E
 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4
If you feel like doing something different or you just want to get your pull-offs better, try going backwards. You can turn Fig.8 into a mirror image and play from high all the way back, using pull-offs instead of hammer-ons. Again, for a challenge try picking every note and see how fast you can get it. There's so much you can do with these 3 simple shapes, the list could go on. I hope this gives you something new and unusual to play with and has helped you to advance your playing style and/or helped you to become a more well-rounded guitarist. As we all know, you can never have too much information regarding various techniques.
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