Hammering With The Right Hand

(written in 1984)

Hi, folks. In these “top secret” guitar lessons, I plan to discuss different techniques for soloing and rhythm playing. I always strongly recommend the use of a drum machine or metronome in your practicing.

The examples and ideas that follow will need to be musically meditated on.

The technique I’m about to describe involves hammering with the right hand. The object is to get an even 16th-note (or 8th-note) soloing “feel” happening using both hands on the neck.

Begin with a metronome, or drum machine, pulsating at the rate of quarter note = 60. You can make this time slower if it’s too fast at first. Start out in a familiar key and tap a note with a finger on your right hand. Whichever finger feels most comfortable to you is the one to use. I use the middle finger. Tap the note to sound it, then pull off the note to a note in the same key, fretted with the first finger on your left hand. Then hammer to another note with your third (or second) finger and another with your pinky finger…all with your left hand. From here, you can go to another string and fret a note with the finger on your right hand, then repeat the action. Each note should be an 8th note in length. Try to get a steady, clean flow happening. Remember, if it’s not clean, it’s worth poo poo.

Let’s say, for example, I’m in the key of A Major. On the B string, I fret a B with my right hand (12th fret) and pull off to an E (same string, 5th fret, 1st finger). Now, I hammer to an F# (third finger), then hammer to a G (pinky finger). With the right finger, I hammer an A on the 14th fret of the G string and pull off to a C#. I then hammer to a D (second finger), then to an E.

After an hour or so of this type of activity, bring the metronome speed up a notch or two. With constant diligence, you’ll be flailing in no time.

This is one way to get your two-handed technique together. If you use this idea in your soloing, be careful that it doesn’t start to sound like an exercise.

After this starts working for you, try some of your own innovative mutations on the idea; e.g., play only two notes with your left hand, set your drum machine for a 6/8 feel and phrase in triplets. Fret two notes with your right hand, etc.

There are countless other ways of using your right hand on the neck, so keep tuned for future lessons.