Hello, my name is Najwa, and I am a guitar player and musician from Morocco. Today I want to teach you how to perform a hammer on with an acoustic guitar. What is a hammer on, exactly? A hammer-on is a guitar technique used in many musical styles, in order to make the playing faster and create a cool new sound that you can use for your leads.
A hammer-on is hitting a string with your fretting hand, but pressing it quickly so you can hear the note without strumming.
This is how I would suggest you learn how to do it.
1 – Start Easy
Start easily and practice making the note sound out nicely when you hit it. Making the note sound as clear as possible is important, and going slow can make this happen.
Make your guitar sound out by making several notes sound on their own without ever picking. Play a note, and then use your fretting hand to smack another note for a hammer on.
2 – Use Your Index Finger
You can use any finger to learn the hammer on. However, it is usually easier to learn with the index and ring fingers. Here we are talking about using those fingers with your “fretting” hand. Your fretting hand is your left hand, if you are a right handed player. This is the hand that does the fingering of chords, riffs, etc.
Begin with your index finger on your fretting hand. Simply pick a note on your guitar with your index finger and push down on it, and let your other fingers hang open. It is simple to hammer on to a note if it is close to another note you are already holding down, and that will be your ring finger.
3 – Put your ring finger two frets away to hammer on
With the same fretting hand, just put your ring finger firmly down on another fret, keeping it on the same string as the note you chose with your index finger. The note will sound out, but since you picked the string once only, it will make a transition from the last note you played. Your ring finger is, basically, the “hammer”.
Try doing your hammering of the note close to the back of the fret to make a better sound. At least, that’s how I do it, but you can also experiment to see what works best for you. It will depend somewhat on your fingers and your guitar as well.
4 – Adjust the power of your hammer on
Adjust the intensity of the hammer on so that the picked and hammered note have the same volume. Avoid over-hitting a note, because it will go sharp and sound out with an unpleasant high pitch. On the other hand, if you play it too softly, you will not be able to hear it clearly. So, with practice you will find just the right amount of force to use for your hammer.
5 – Practice the pentatonic scale with a hammer on
Now that you have learned to do hammer on, practice the pentatonic scale using the hammer-on technique and do it repeatedly so it comes naturally to you.
You can also introduce the hammer on anywhere across the neck to increase your playing speed, going from note to note with a new style.
Here is a video I made showing exactly how to do this great guitar technique.