“Pull-Off” a Misnomer!

Posted on Posted in Tips from Mark

This article concerns fretting-hand slurs, namely “Pull-Offs.” It is my contention that they are misnamed. They should be called  “pull-downs” or “push-ups.” (No, not like sit-ups!)

Over the years I’ve witnessed so many students pull away from a string — particularly immediately following a hammer-on (aptly named)— resulting in a weak, too quiet articulation of the note. Their fingertip moves in and out like a jackhammer.

To produce a substantial enough volume for the slurred note, the fingertip should actually move at a right angle, attacking straight at the string for the hammer-on, then stretching the string toward the floor or ceiling when releasing it — the “pull-down” or “push-up.” That will provide two solid sounding notes. To get an adequate volume the fingertip should stretch the string sideways before releasing it, as the picking fingers do. 

 I often “push up” lower pitched strings – stretching them toward the ceiling before releasing them. That way I am in no danger of disturbing a melody note by accidentally plucking a higher pitched neighboring string. Conversely,  I always pull the first string toward the floor for a “pull-down” since there is no additional higher-pitched string neighboring it to accidentally pluck.

So, for a “hammer-on/pull-down” combination (or “hammer-on/push-up”), your fretting fingertip should move at a right angle. 

For a good example, check out my ‘slurs’ in “Angel Eyes“ on YouTube — including the picking-hand version at 1:34! LINK

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