Video Lesson: Beginning Slur Exercises

This video covers what I do with student when I’m just getting them started with Hammer-ons/Pull-offs (slurs). I got the basic idea out of Kitharologus: The Path to Virtuosity (aff.) by Ricardo Iznaola, but changed it a bit to suit my needs.

Posted on in Classical Guitar Technique, Guitar Slurs


  • Bobber

    I can see the new dot!

    Chris, do you consciously try to move your whole hand when you do pull- offs?

  • Christopher Davis

    Depends on the situation. Sometimes you can get away with it, other times you can’t.

    For the purposes of this video, I should have tried to keep my hand still. Didn’t think about that until the shooting was done!

    A better strategy is probably to practice each way: left hand moving and still. And also practice with both straight and angled hand positions.


  • Larry Deack

    Hi Christopher,

    Interesting post. I don’t teach slurs that way but may try it. I teach slurs plucking the first note, as the students play them in actual music. Never thought of going for the left hand only to start.

    I found that many of my students know the Bruce Lee concept of a One Inch Punch and use this to explain how to do slurs without the windup and to make them aware that it’s not just the fingers that do the work.

    I also show them the E-F hammer-on that is the theme for Jaws which, surprisingly, most know. What’s fun about that slur is that you can have them play along and start slow then speed it up, which also teaches the idea of gradients of tempo and volume, and also ensemble playing since they have to follow what I do.

    I have a few other slurs I show them like playing the descending C major scale in first position using only left hand. Many get the idea right away on the first string alone where they hammer-on the G then pull-offs for the F and E played over and over faster and faster. They like to hear the effects and trying to get effects at tempo is a LOT of what technique is about.

    I also teach pull-offs as plucking the string and explain both the rest and free stroke. Again I go for the effect by teaching four fret slurs, both ascending and descending. Students really seem to respond when they have an audible effect to shoot for but I also show them how playing slow can often be harder than going for the effect at tempo and is very important since going for the effect tends to be sloppier sounding until they can control it at any tempo.

  • Josephine

    That’s pretty cool, I just learned something new since I haven’t learned this yet with my teacher. What type of guitar do you think is best to buy for a beginner?

    I was thinking about a Yamaha because I came across there new Facebook page and all their products seem pretty stellar!

    Maybe you should check it out?

    Make sure to “Like” it! haha.

    It is updated on a regular basis with new product and artist information!

  • Christopher Davis


    I don’t think it really matters. Yamaha guitars are great and not pricey: the perfect beginner instrument. I started on a cheapo washburn classical.