Today you’re going to learn how to use hammer ons in your strumming. This is an extremely useful and popular technique. And it instantly adds a lot of style to your chord progressions. This is one of those lessons where it really pays to watch the video. I’ll add some notes here to expand on the concept.
How To Play A Hammer On Strum
Let’s practice this with an E major chord. This is a good chord to use because it has some low bass notes to work with. We’re going to start by playing a bass note strum. That’s a simple pattern of bass note-strum-bass note-strum. On the E major chord you would play the open 6th string, strum, play the open 6th string, strum. That’s a full measure between those actions. Each bass note and strum is played on each beat of the measure.
Try that a couple times.
Bass note-strum-bass note-strum
Next you’ll add the second bass note to create an alternating bass note strum. It’s just like the first one.
The first bass note will be the open 6th string, but the second one changes. It will be the next lowest note in the E chord, which is the 5th string 2nd fret.
[open 6th string] - Strum - [5th string, 2nd fret] - Strum
Both of these strumming patterns are excellent strumming patterns to know. But we can spice them up even more by adding hammer ons.
Adding Hammer Ons
A hammer on is where you play a note, then fret that same string with another finger (without picking a second time). Try playing an open 5th string and then fretting the 2nd fret with your middle finger without picking again. You’ll have to fret the note harder than normal to get the note to ring out. Try this a few times.
Now, let’s add that to the strumming pattern. We’re going to add it to the second bass note strum. Instead of picking the 5th string 2nd fret, you’re going to lift your middle finger up right before you pick and play the open 5th string.
[open 6th string] - Strum - [hammer on] - Strum
The real trick is doing this in time.
Check out the video to hear this in action!
You can do this with more chords too. Really any open chord. Let’s try it with a B7 chord
The first bass note is the 5th string 2nd fret. The second bass note is going to be lower than root note. It’s the 2nd fret on the 6th string. That’s the note we’ll use as a hammer on too. Hammer on from the open 6th string to the 6th string 2nd fret.
[5th string 2nd fret] - Strum - [open 6th string hammer on to 6th string 2nd fret] - Strum
Be sure to watch the video to hear all of this in action, and get a bonus chord to practice!
And speaking of practice, the best way to get this down is to spend some time on it every day. When you first learn a new technique, practicing it consistently for the first few days makes all the difference.
If you want to see more chord progressions with hammer ons, let me know in the comments!