Cliff Burton hammer ons and pull offs

Just getting into playing with hammer ons and pull offs and while reading some of the tabs for whom the bell tolls and the bass tabs say I have to do a hammer on from the 16th to the 19th fret then do a pull off on the g string then a hammer on on the 19th fret of the d string wondering how I could get the technique right for it.

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Can you post what you are referring to exactly? Sounds like you may be reading tabs for the live version instead of the recorded version.

For Whom The Bell Tolls (V1) Metallica [EADG].pdf (602.1 KB)

talking about the live version

If you’re just starting to learn hammer ons and pull offs then I would strongly suggest not starting with Metallica. Burton was one of a kind and has some really interesting technique that is quite difficult to replicate. I would recommend some easier material to learn on before tackling anything from Burton.

If I understand right, you’re plucking the 16th fret of the G, hammering the 19th, pulling off to let the 16th ring then hammering the 19th of the D? That’s pretty straightforward. Pluck 16, hammer with ring or pinky on 19, pull off then hammer again with ring or pinky. Depending on your reach I’d try to hammer with the ring finger as you’ll get more punch on the note that way, ring finger tends to be stronger than the pinky.


Only thing I’ll add is that when you do the initial pluck on the G string, your plucking finger is used to landing on and muting the D string. Sometime just prior to doing the last hammer on onto the D, you’ll want to remember to lift the plucking finger off of the D so it isn’t muted.

This may sound obvious, but having first learned this on guitar and using a pick, I had to adjust to the reality of fingerstyle bass.

Co-sign the sentiment that if you’re just getting started on h/P find a simpler riff. Maybe an early Geezer B riff.

How new are you to playing bass and/or guitar?

You mainly just need some strength for a decent hammer on which generally comes with repeated practice. Lots of different exercises to build strength and agree that your ring finger will work better than pinky.

For Metallica stuff you often need speed as well.