Guitar > Legato Techniques > Pull-offs

Pull are exact opposite of hammer-ons. Whereas with hammer-ons, you're picking the first note and then using another finger to "hammer" a note higher, the pull-off involves picking a note and using the left hand to achieve a lower note on the same string. Pull-offs are a form of legato playing because there is no articulation with the pick involved. This allows a smoothness that you would not get if you were playing the line with a pick. Legato literally means "smooth" in Italian.

Pull-offs are denoted by a slur between a higher note and a lower note. Often, the letter "p" will appear above the slur, although this notation is optional. It should be obvious that a slur represents a pull-off rather than a hammer-on because it connect two or more notes in a descending sequences which would be impossible to hammer-on such a combination.

The proper way to achieve a pull-off is to have both the higher note and the lower note simultaneously pressed down. You then strike the higher note with a pick and then let go of that note to allow the lower note to ring out. One thing that you'll notice when using this method is that the lower note may not have as much volume as the higher note. The way around this issue is to using a plucking motion with the left hand as you're performing the pull off. See the video for a visual demonstration.

Like hammer-ons, you can perform series of pull-offs to help increase your speed and efficiency for scalar and arpeggiated lines. Combining hammer-ons and pull-offs is a great way to add smoothness to a line and to increase your speed and dexterity around the fretboard.

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Check out these 10 progressive exercises to improve your pull-off technique. Try using different fingers for each exercise so that you can develop strength in all fingers.

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