How to Hammer on Acoustic Guitar

There is nothing quite like the sound of an excellent acoustic guitar. Whether you’re playing for your enjoyment or for a crowd, there’s just something about acoustic guitar’s sound that resonates with people. And, if you want to get the most out of your acoustic guitar, it’s important to know how to hammer on it.

How to Hammer on Acoustic Guitar

In this blog post, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to hammer on acoustic guitar so that you can start creating beautiful music right away! This technique allows you to produce sounds without using fingerpicking or strumming. Read on for tips on how to get started!

7 Methods on How to Hammer on Acoustic Guitar

1. Downstroke Hammer-On

This method is executed by picking a string with your pick or strumming hand, then hammering onto the fretboard (which is down) with the fretting hand and releasing it. This method is not necessarily done one string at a time; you can pick two different strings and hammer onto the adjacent fretboard.

2. Upstroke Hammer-On

This method is almost the opposite of the Downstroke Hammer-On as you strum with your pick or strumming hand, then hammer onto the fretboard (which is up) with the fretting hand. This method can also be done two strings at a time.

3. Hammer on Pull-off

This method is just hammering on from a free string, then immediately pulling off. So, for example, if you have been playing power chords with the root note on the sixth string, you can hammer onto it for a quick pull-off. You can also do pull-offs of two strings by hammering twice in a row.

4. Pick/Finger Plucking with Hammer-on

This method is when you pick or pluck the string to be hammered onto with your choice of picking hand/finger, then hammering onto it. This can also be done two strings at a time if you want to change what note you are playing in the same place; for example, if you were doing power chords on the fifth fret (the fifth string), you could pick/pluck the sixth string, hammer onto the fifth fret, and do a pull-off.

5. Fretting Hand Hammer-on

This method is hammering on with your fretting hand using an upstroke motion. This can be done on two strings at a time as well. This method is the most challenging to learn and gives you more speed and control.

Use a Upstroke Motion

6. Three Notes per String Hammer-ons

This method allows you to play triplets on a single string with hammer-ons instead of using three different strings for each note. This can be done in two ways with this technique.

If you want to play a triplet that is one note per fret, you simply hammer onto the first note of the triplet and release it, then do a pull-off. If you want to play a triplet where each note is two frets apart, pick or strum the first note, hammer onto the second fret, pick/strum the third note, and release it.

7. Hammer on Slide Up/Down

This method can be done to play arpeggios or sound fancy. For example, if you slide the pick/plucking hand up, then hammer onto the fretboard with your fretting hand and release it, you will hear a higher pitch in this instance. This is because when you lift your finger off of the string and slide down, you change the tension and pitch of the string.

There is more tension and a higher-pitched sound; when you slide down, there is less tension and a lower-pitched sound. You can also do this method to play descent arpeggios by doing it in reverse, sliding down with your pick/plucking hand on all the notes, then hammering onto the fretboard with your fretting hand.

3 Tips for Comfortable Slurs: Easier Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Tip One: Use Your Arm

With your hand just in front of the soundhole, use your entire arm to push down on the string to fret a note. Use only enough force to get through each note cleanly. This will reduce strain in your fingers and help you execute rapid slurs with ease.

It would help if you kept this muscle movement separate from any finger movement. Practice keeping your arm still while using just your fingers to play the note. Then coordinate the two actions together until you can do it fluidly. You’ll get faster results if your hand keeps its relaxed grip on the neck, using only enough force to push down each string cleanly.

Tip Two: Decrease the Finger/String Angle

As you play, move your hand down the neck toward the soundhole to decrease the angle between your finger and the string. This will reduce tension in your hand and put less pressure on your palm muscles. It’s not necessary to completely “choke up” on the neck; find a comfortable spot where you can keep all of your fingers curved around the neck.

 Use Your Arm

Tip Three: Relax Your Palm

You can use any part of your palm from your wrist up to your elbow, but make sure it is relaxed and not pushing down too hard on the strings. Practice playing a slur without using your fingers at all; just push with your palm and strum! For example, try a lip slur with minimal effort, using only your palm to stop the strings from sounding.

Are Hammer-Ons Harder on Acoustic?

Some people believe that playing guitar with a pick is harder on the hands than simply plucking the strings. One of the most common reasons is that it creates more noise, which is true to some extent. However, a pick makes an obvious ‘ka-chink’ sound when hitting against the string, whereas your finger’s only source of noise comes from its fleshy tip hitting the string with a thump, but usually hidden to listeners.

However, most of the ‘noise’ created from playing a note is not from the pick with an acoustic guitar. If you play too hard or replace your strings with heavier ones, you can give feedback due to the body’s resonance. A pick can amplify this, but it’s more of a concern of playing amplified than un-amplified.

For the most part, there is no difference. Hammer-ons are primarily used to get new notes rather than changing the volume of existing ones, so feedback is less of an issue for acoustic players than for electric, requiring volume knobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which Type of Nails Do You Use for Hammering on an Acoustic Guitar?

If you don’t want to replace your nails often, use plastic ones. Most players will tell you the same thing. If it’s not a big deal for you and if they’re easy enough to find, regular metal nails will work fine as well. Just be aware of how long it takes to wear out and change them regularly.

You will have a better tone since metal on metal doesn’t have the same sound as plastic. Also, your nails might break less often. However, don’t expect it to last forever. Metal on metal wears faster than plastic does on metals. Plus, it can be more challenging to find and buy online.

Q: How Do You Hammer on Harder?

The challenge of hammering on harder is one that every musician eventually encounters. To play a song, the musician usually has to pull it off or at least make an attempt even if they can’t yet master it completely.

When playing acoustic guitar, you have a lot more pressure on your fingers, as there is no pick to deflect the sound and give you a break. As such, mastering this technique is especially useful for playing fast or even just tricky riffs.


Hammer-ons and pull-offs are a great way to play two notes at once. It’s like picking the first note but then quickly playing another one on top of it. Hammering is an essential guitar technique that every guitarist should know well before moving on to more complex procedures or songs with multiple chords per measure.

How to Hammer on Acoustic Guitar. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep at it, and before you know it, you’ll be hammering like a pro!

Jennifer Branett
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