#2
why would you ask such a vague question

practice, obviously

but unless we know what you're specifically trying to get better at, we can't help.

Is it a muting issue? clarity? Strength?
ayy lmao
#3
Not to hijack, but I am also having real problems with pull-offs. I get almost no sound when I try pull-offs. If I push down harder, I just push the string into the fretboard and still get little or no sound. Is the idea to slide the fingertip across the string to get the sound or do you try to do a pluck with your fingernail?
#4
the idea is to literally pull off. You pull your finger back/down in one motion and it should make the note behind the fretted one you let go of ring out

are you trying on an acoustic? They're much harder to make ring properly, if at all, on an acoustic.

I could try to upload an audio file to show how it's done if you wanted.
ayy lmao
Last edited by chookiecookie at Feb 6, 2014,
#5
Quote by chookiecookie
the idea is to literally pull off. You pull your finger back/down in one motion and it should make the note behind the fretted one you let go of ring out

are you trying on an acoustic? They're much harder to make ring properly, if at all, on an acoustic.


I've been trying on an electric with very low action (Ibanez GAX70). I'm not sure if having the action a bit higher would help, but I'll give it another go and see if I can't make it work. Like a lot of things, it's probably hard to do the first time, but once I do it the first time, I can keep at it and getting better. Thanks for the help.
#6
low action should help.

It's not hard to do a pull off in the general term. To make it as clean as possible though, that can be a challenge.

I dunno.
ayy lmao
#7
The other thing that affects pull-offs (and hammers) is how hard your callouses are. If they're still a bit soft this is going to deaden your pull-offs some. If that's the case, it's just a matter of keeping practicing your legato, and getting as good a sound as you can. Your callouses will harden up pretty quickly.
#8
Quote by jds2
Not to hijack, but I am also having real problems with pull-offs. I get almost no sound when I try pull-offs. If I push down harder, I just push the string into the fretboard and still get little or no sound. Is the idea to slide the fingertip across the string to get the sound or do you try to do a pluck with your fingernail?

Obvious question, but if you're on an electric, are you unplugged?

You don't have to push the string into the fretboard a lot. Most of the volume of a pull off is generated from you pulling the string sideways, not pushing it into the fretboard.

You don't slide your fingertip across the string. That motion is kind of like using a violin bow on the strings, which you don't want. You don't need to use your fingernail to pluck, either, and that would also make it a lot harder to perform if you're performing quick pull offs. Imagine how shredded your fingers would get if you're playing a run with heavy legato.

Really, the only way to describe the motion is plucking. Try this: Imagine trying to flick somebody with your fingers, but instead of using your index or your middle finger to do it, you use your thumb. That's the best analogy I can come up with when you're performing a pull off. The string has to "get stuck" on the finger you're pulling off with. Then, in one swift motion, pluck the string with your fingertip.

This is really hard to explain without a video
#9
Yeah the thing is a common misconception early on is you just release string pressure to do it (goes for tapping too). You actually "pluck" the string with your pulloff/tapping finger. It's not a "reverse hammer-on", that will give you almost no sound.
#10
Thanks for the all the replies. My first tries were pretty much the opposite of hammer-on's (which worked exactly as badly as you would expect!). I'll just keep after it. Right now, about 20% of the tries give a good sound and 80% either give no sound or inconsistent volume. Hopefully, with more practice, I'll get things more consistent. I really appreciate all the pointers.
#11
Yeah you have to flick your finger off the the string. So far I have been also just lifting my finger away fast. There is sound but a dead one. I found out just lately what I have been doing wrong myself and am also working on this. We'll get it right and natural one day.

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#12
When you say "flick", you mean that the motion should be starting from a curled finger and moving toward a straight finger, right? My first attempts were in the other direction (going from a curled finger and making it more curled) and they didn't seem to work at all. Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but I wanted to be sure I'm not wasting time on a hopelessly wrong technique.
#13
Quote by jds2
When you say "flick", you mean that the motion should be starting from a curled finger and moving toward a straight finger, right? My first attempts were in the other direction (going from a curled finger and making it more curled) and they didn't seem to work at all. Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but I wanted to be sure I'm not wasting time on a hopelessly wrong technique.


no, not exactly.

you literally just pull off of the string in a downward motion

Use your wrist as a pivot at first. It'll probably be much easier to grasp like that.
ayy lmao
#14
It's not a straight up and down motion, it is slightly across the string. Your finger shape doesn't have to change at all. Try using the High E string for starters and put your left hand index finger on a fret and then place your ring finger say 2 frets up not playing anything. Pick the E string so the first note rings then when you pull off you are taking your ring finger and moving it across the string towards the floor and up at the same time. It is a small movement. If you have to exaggerate it at first go ahead but you will find the sweet spot and can economize the movement.
#15
Quote by paulhudginsgt
It's not a straight up and down motion, it is slightly across the string. Your finger shape doesn't have to change at all. Try using the High E string for starters and put your left hand index finger on a fret and then place your ring finger say 2 frets up not playing anything. Pick the E string so the first note rings then when you pull off you are taking your ring finger and moving it across the string towards the floor and up at the same time. It is a small movement. If you have to exaggerate it at first go ahead but you will find the sweet spot and can economize the movement.


Now I see!!!! I have a long way to go before I can do them well, but I've finally gotten sound like I should. I really appreciate all the help.
#16
Thunderstruck by AC/DC is a good one to practise to help with pull off strength, keep at it and you'll get it.
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#17
Quote by jds2
Now I see!!!! I have a long way to go before I can do them well, but I've finally gotten sound like I should. I really appreciate all the help.


Way to go, dude!
#18
Quote by jds2
Now I see!!!! I have a long way to go before I can do them well, but I've finally gotten sound like I should. I really appreciate all the help.



Awesome. Another pointer that is related. IF/When you decide to get into tapping use the same idea with your right hand. The attack should be the same with your tapping finger. Only difference for me is that I pull towards the ceiling instead of the floor.
#19
As mentioned above, many beginners mistakenly think that a pull-off is just the opposite of a hammer-on, but the clue is really in the name. It's more of a pluck than a pull really, pulling the finger down towards the ground before releasing the string. It's about getting the angle right. Not enough and you'll get no sound, too much and you'll bend the note sharp and it'll will sound horrible.

One of my favourite ways to practice both hammer-ons and pull-offs is with simple trills. Start with your first and second finger.

First finger on the fifth fret of the G string for example. Pick that note, then hammer-on to the 6th fret with your second finger. Then pull of back to the 5th, and hammer on again to the 6th. At all times your first finger should be fretting the fifth fret.

Do this REALLY slowly to begin with. Like a fire-engine, or the Jaws theme. Use a metronome to keep time, and try and do it continuously for at least five minutes, maybe even ten. This will really build you finger strength and stamina.

Try this drill with all possible finger combinations, ie: 1&2, 1&3, 1&4, 2&3, 2&4, and 3&4. Spend more time on the ones that you find hardest, like 2&4, and 3&4.

As your finger strength and and endurance increase, so will your ability to play them faster, so you should practice them at higher tempos. This strength and endurance will carry across nicely to all legato playing, and there are MANY other great (and much more musical) exercises to help you with playing legato, this is just a very basic one to help you get started.

As you do these drills pay close attention to the sounds you're producing. If the pull-off is too quiet you need to pluck the string more (pull your finger toward the floor more before releasing the string). If using an electric guitar I'd suggest using a very small amount of distortion for this, but occasionally using none to check how even your volume really is, and sometimes cranking the gain right up, to see how clean you are playing.

As always, practice should be done with a critical ear - there's no point just blindly (or deafly) practicing away for hours if you're not paying any attention to how it actually sounds. You'll make no progress that way.
#20
^ Excellent advice. The trill exercise is really effective for improving your legato. As you get better at it, combine it into one continuous exercise that you use to practice all the combos: 1&2,1&3,1&4,2&3,2&4,3&4. Loop it and keep each pattern going for different lengths of time:
1&2 for one bar, then 1&3 for one bar, etc.
Then 2 beats for each pattern, and repeat the loop twice.
The 1 beat for each pattern, and repeat the loop 4 times.
All as one continuous thing, played in steady 16ths (though there is no reason not to do it in 8ths if 16ths are hard at this point)

When holding the patterns for the longer durations, pay attention that you are hearing it starting on the lower note. It can tend to get muddled and the timing gets off.

Also practice it on different strings. The first string is easiest. When you practice it on other strings, you have to take more care not to hit the string above (in pitch - the one closer to the floor) it.
#21
Quote by Chris Lake
One of my favourite ways to practice both hammer-ons and pull-offs is with simple trills. Start with your first and second finger.

First finger on the fifth fret of the G string for example. Pick that note, then hammer-on to the 6th fret with your second finger. Then pull of back to the 5th, and hammer on again to the 6th. At all times your first finger should be fretting the fifth fret.


Just to be sure I'm doing the exercise right, should I pick after I've hammered on to the 6th fret and before doing the pull-off? Or should I hammer on and pull off with no picking in between?

The first way works reasonably well, the second gives almost no sound on the pull-off (at least right now).
#22
It's intended to be played as one continuous thing, where only the first note is picked. But there's no harm in doing it how your doing it (the first way) as training wheels, and then when it's starts getting easy, switch to combining the hammers and pull-offs (the second way).
One of the keys to using your learning time effectively is to build up the difficulty gradually. Don't overwhelm yourself by playing something much harder than you are used to - search for things which are just a bit harder, and when they become easier, find something just a bit harder than that, and so on.
#23
As se012101 said, you should only pick the very first note. In fact, even that is unnecessary as you should be able to hammer that on from nothing with your first finger.

you should be able to play this exercise continuously, indefinitely, without using the picking hand at all. You should also be in control of the dynamics of it. Go from very quiet to very loud, and back to quiet again.

If your getting no sound from the pull-off then your technique is still off. You need to really twang the string when you pull off. you should be able to do this just as loud as picking the note.

Here's a video by the masterful Guthrie Govan that explains it better than I can here.

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTY1MjgwMzEy.html
#24
Today's technique update: Since I'm usually practicing basic open chords, E-shaped barre chords and major and pentatonic scales, I typically have my Vox modeling amp set on a clean Fender twin-type setting with pretty low gain and modest volume (I practice when my son is asleep). With these settings, it was hard to get enough volume on the pull-off sound without picking in between the hammer-on and pull-off. On the other hand, when I dialed in a high-gain Marshall-type setting, I could hammer-on and pull-off with no need to pick at all for as long as I wanted. The only restriction was that I could only do this with my index and middle fingers. The ring finger and pinky are too weak at the moment to get consistent volumes for hammer-on and pull-offs. So I know what I need to strengthen. Is using a high-gain amp setting "cheating" or is this just the way it is?
#25
Nah, the high gain setting isn't cheating. The thing is, even though you need a bit of amp assistance right now, you are still gaining dexterity/strength, etc, when you practice. Pretty soon, you will switch to the clean setup, and find that you can get them to sound.
#26
When you pull off you need to press down hard on the string just as you would a note the string has to be at the peak of the sound so you can not pull off too late when you do pull off you must be fast enough to not mute the string and get a dead pull off it has to be clear so just keep practicing i had that problem myself i thought i would never get over it.
#27
Quote by Chris Lake
As mentioned above, many beginners mistakenly think that a pull-off is just the opposite of a hammer-on, but the clue is really in the name. It's more of a pluck than a pull really, pulling the finger down towards the ground before releasing the string. It's about getting the angle right. Not enough and you'll get no sound, too much and you'll bend the note sharp and it'll will sound horrible.

One of my favourite ways to practice both hammer-ons and pull-offs is with simple trills. Start with your first and second finger.

First finger on the fifth fret of the G string for example. Pick that note, then hammer-on to the 6th fret with your second finger. Then pull of back to the 5th, and hammer on again to the 6th. At all times your first finger should be fretting the fifth fret.

Do this REALLY slowly to begin with. Like a fire-engine, or the Jaws theme. Use a metronome to keep time, and try and do it continuously for at least five minutes, maybe even ten. This will really build you finger strength and stamina.

Try this drill with all possible finger combinations, ie: 1&2, 1&3, 1&4, 2&3, 2&4, and 3&4. Spend more time on the ones that you find hardest, like 2&4, and 3&4.

As your finger strength and and endurance increase, so will your ability to play them faster, so you should practice them at higher tempos. This strength and endurance will carry across nicely to all legato playing, and there are MANY other great (and much more musical) exercises to help you with playing legato, this is just a very basic one to help you get started.

As you do these drills pay close attention to the sounds you're producing. If the pull-off is too quiet you need to pluck the string more (pull your finger toward the floor more before releasing the string). If using an electric guitar I'd suggest using a very small amount of distortion for this, but occasionally using none to check how even your volume really is, and sometimes cranking the gain right up, to see how clean you are playing.

As always, practice should be done with a critical ear - there's no point just blindly (or deafly) practicing away for hours if you're not paying any attention to how it actually sounds. You'll make no progress that way.



This, this is exactly what I was gonna recommend, fastest way to learn pull offs.