Use Slides, Hammer-Ons, and Pull-Offs to Minimize Pick Strokes

by Orville Johnson

Using slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs gives you a way to play more notes without having to pick each one. As the tempos get quicker, you’ll find these techniques become very useful. Example 12 shows a lick in the key of G that relies on them. Use a hammer-on for the C–C# move, pick the D and G, pull off from F to D, slide down from C# to C, pick the Bb, hammer on to the C, and finish by picking the G. Eleven notes with seven pick strokes! Not only do these techniques help with your speed, they give your licks a smoother, more connected (legato) sound.

Minimize Strokes Ex12
Click to enlarge.

When you pick each individual note the sound is more spiky and percussive. Mix these sounds together throughout your solo and you’ll make it more interesting and dynamic.

Excerpted from Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics

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