View Full Version : hammer-on help

09-01-2009, 06:47 AM
I decided to try and learn postcards from italy by beirut. I'll admit it may be a bit advanced for me but i like to aim high. I found a great how-to video on youtube so i know what i'm supposed to be doing but i can't seem to get an effective hammer-on. It doesn't look hard to do but i can only hear the slightest tone change when i do it even when i press really hard. Does it just tak practice or could i be doing something wrong? Or are there certain types of strings that don't give as good a sound (i have aquila strings).

09-01-2009, 07:33 AM
An effective hammer-on requires a couple of things. First, you have to have a uke with good sustain. Once you pick or pluck a note, you need it to remain ringing long enough to hammer on that next note. It helps to have a more lightly-built uke, and larger ukes seem to be better than smaller ukes in sustain as well, probably because the larger body allows has more surface area and internal volume to vibrate - that will help keep the first note ringing long enough to get the second note hammer-on completed and audible. The second thing you need to have is a pretty good callous on your fretting finger so that the string doesn't indent into the skin during the split-second you are performing the hammer-on; that will kill the vibration of the string before you get the second note fretted.

Hammer-ons are much easier on steel-string guitars due to the higher string tension and bigger bodies - the initial notes resonate much more powerfully and the string mass is greater so that when you hammer-on that second note, you're less likely to kill the sound completely before the string hits the fret. However, it CAN be done. Heck, if you have a deft-enough touch and good enough callouses, you can even hit a 12th fret harmonic pretty easily with practice.

So, good luck and keep at it! I'm sure you'll get it eventually. :)