Skip to content


Today we’ll take a look at common guitar techniques and how they are represented in tablature.


Vibrato adds a lot of personality to your playing. Most great guitar players
have a distinct vibrato. It’s a key ingredient for playing good guitar.

A basic Vibrato is performed by vibrating a note rapidly by a bending and
releasing of a note with your fret hand. We’re not bending it up to a higher
pitch per say, just “shaking” the string. It appears in tablature
as in the example below.

. vibrato on guitar


A hammer-on is simple technique of “hammering on” the fretboard
with one of your fingers to produce a note instead of picking the note.

To perform a hammer-on place the first finger of your fret hand on the D string
on the 2nd fret. Play the note then bring the 3rd finger of your fret hand
down onto the 4th fret. Do not pick this second note, instead”hammer” it
hard with your 3rd finger to produce the second note. See the tab and audio

guitar hammer-on

You get two or more notes for the price of one with a hammer-on, because you
only pick the note that precedes the hammer-on note. You must bring your hammering
finger down hard, fast, and hold it down firmly to get a good hammer-on note.
In the audio example see if you can hear the difference between the notes picked
or the notes with a hammer-on:

It may be difficult to hammer-on at first. You hand may need a little time
to build up enough strength to produce an audible note with a hammer-on. Keep
on practicing it and you’ll get good soon enough.

Here are some more examples of hammer-ons:

guitar lick

guitar trick

guitar exercise


Pull-offs are performed by picking the 1st note and “pulling-off” to
sound the 2nd note without picking it. Both fingers are to be placed on the
notes to be sounded. Strike the 1st (higher) note, then sound the lower note
by pulling the finger off the higher note while keeping the lower note fretted.
It’s hard to get it to sound right at first, but keep practicing.

In tablature a pull-off is represented by a “P” and a curved line
connecting the two notes like in the example below:

guitar pull-off

Here are some more advanced pull-offs to practice. They’re a little tough
at first, but as with everything else, it’s nothing practice won’t cure.

guitar tab

guitar lesson

The previous two examples are built off of the pentatonic scale.

Picking And Trills

Tremelo Picking

Example 1

guitar tabs example


A trill is performed by quickly hammering on and pulling off two notes. It’s
usually represented by a “tr” and a squiggle line like seen for a
vibrato. In the example below you can see a trill in tablature. Place your
1st finger on the note on the 7th fret and use your 3rd finger to rapidly hammer-on
and pull-off on the 9th fret-which is in parenthesis.

guitar tabs example

Here’s a series of 3 trills all in a row.

how to trill


Tapping is the technique Eddie Van Halen made famous. It involves hammering
on the fretboard with your 1st or 2nd finger of your picking hand to produce
a note then pulling off to notes fingered by your fret hand. The involvement
of the picking hand in this fashion is called a tap. It is usually represented
by a “T” in tablature.

In the example below you can see that it is a 3 note pattern repeated. The
1st note is performed by tapping on the fretboard with your picking hand and
pulling off onto the 2nd fret which is fingered with the fret hand (we suggest
your 1st finger). The last note in the pattern is performed by hammering on
the 5th fret with your 3rd or 1st finger of your fret hand.

It’s fairly easy to get a simple pattern like this really fast rather quickly-even
for a beginner. Practice it until it sounds smooth and then try pumping up
the speed.

guitar tapping tab

Here’s a variation:

tapping on guitar

The lick below is similar to the one Eddie Van Halen performed in “Hot
For Teacher”. It involves all six strings. Give it a try!

guitar tapping