Hammer Ons, Pull offs and Slides


Its been over a year of playing and I didn’t know how important hammer ons, pull offs and slides were, There just seemed to be certain basslines I couldn’t play no matter what. Either the tonality/sound of some of my notes would be off or I just couldn’t be fast enough… Please share all you can about these concepts will ya? From the basics all the way to exercise and of course where they can/have been applied? Share real life bass lines , your own or others which clearly show the use of these.


I can’t throw too much specific in here right now - but I want to say this:

Hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, - vibrato - all the little things you can do to play the same notes in different ways - these are, collectively, articulations.
Articulations are the difference between a 1990’s-voice-mail-robot voice, and an actual conversation with a person.
Articulations are what turn a bass line from sounding like a programmed MIDI pad into a groovy, sweet jam.
So - yes, I totally agree - they’re in every bass line because every player flavors their notes in a particular way.

As far as getting into those concepts - @JoshFossgreen - is there module for that? I would imagine there is. If not, I bet Josh has a tasty video or three that talks a bit about this…

If I can think of more specifics, I’ll holler!


That’s a big question! Like @Gio said, these are all just different ways of articulating your notes. They’re also all somewhat challenging to do well, which is why I left them out of the Beginner to Badass course (except for a few slides).

And also, yes these are really common techniques/articulations, but you can be a totally solid bass player without doing much of that stuff too.

Is there anything specifically you’re trying to play that has hammerons/pulloffs that you’re having trouble with?


What tips would you tell a beginner like me? How do I begin to use and apply these? Hammer-ons and Pull-offs aren’t as obvious in basslines as slides… I may not want to use em all the time but I should be able to. where to start to work on em is my main problem… If I just do exercises then how do I actually incorporate that into real life music?


Are you having trouble actually executing the technique, or just wondering how to actually apply to music?

If it’s an application question - most common place to do hammer-ons ever is in the minor pentatonic scale. If you’re using this shape:

Then you hammer on between the 3rd and 5th fret notes. You can hear that sound in this guitar riff at the beginning:

The possibilities are endless! If I were you I’d try a bunch of stuff and see what you like.