Skip to content

Guitar Noise Podcast #2 – “Strumming Part 2 / Adding Hammer-ons”

Download MP3

Hello to everyone and welcome back to the Guitar Noise Podcasts!

Our second GN Podcast picks up where the first left off – we’ll take a “basic” strumming pattern from the first podcast and then spice it up by means of adding simple hammer-ons to the chord being strummed. By changing the timing of the hammer-on or by using it on different notes of the chord, you multiply the number of strumming patterns you can create. We’ll be working with both Em and Am chords for this task.

We’ll also discuss a few practice tips concerning muscle memory and speed (not to mention magic and life!) as well as try out a new strumming pattern that is used in more songs than you can imagine. In fact, you can use it with many of the Easy Songs for Beginners lessons at Guitar Noise, such as Nowhere Man.

As before, I’ll be talking you through the process, and I hope that I do as good a job as last time. Let us know what you think!



  1. Miranda
    January 7th, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    Hello David. I started playing the guitar a few months back and only found your podcast today. All I want to say is, thanks a million! And I wish I’d found your website earlier. :)

    • David Hodge
      January 8th, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

      Hi Miranda

      Thank you for writing and I’m glad that you’ve found us! Please feel free to write whenever you’ve questions. You can post here or email me directly ([email protected]) and also be sure to check out Guitar Noise’s forum, where you’ll find all sorts of helpful and friendly people who’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. We all started in the same place, you know!

      Great to have you as part of the Guitar Noise community.


  2. Shaylon Black
    April 9th, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

    Amazing pod casting. My father plays, my step mom plays and I am willing to learn. I find it difficult to just practice and make up music all the time. I like having a goal to practice. Songs are great but it doesn’t practice strumming basics. Anyone can learn a chord in sequence. I want to learn “how to play” i.e. the ability to adapt my knowledge of chords and strumming into any song or jam session. I think that is the trait of a true musician. Great teaching.

  3. Don
    January 3rd, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    Hey David,

    Props to your teaching abilities it’s great how you have these set up. It’s funny now that you’ve taught me the hammer on’s I hear them all the time in music. ie Mr Johnny Cash?

    thanks man

  4. David Hodge
    January 2nd, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    Hi Kate (and a very belated “hello” to Andrew, too!)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. All the time needed to work on the two upcoming books really cut into my schedule and the Podcasts had to be put on hold for awhile, but I’m hoping that before too much longer I can get back to recording more. If all goes well, they should be starting up in late March.

    In the meantime, though, please feel free to post any questions here at the Guitar Noise blog or even at my own blog as well.

    My best wishes to you, your family and friends for a very wonderful 2010.


  5. kate
    January 2nd, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    Hi David–It’s 2010 and I am your beginning podcasts are still extremely useful. Thanks. kate

  6. Andrew
    January 21st, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

    Hi David – Just a quick note to say thanks for all your hard work. I already put some money in your tip pot, but am already thinking it’s not enough. I’ve progressed really well since I started listening to the podcasts – I’m trying to make myself work through each one at least twice and practice for at least 20 minutes a day.

    Keep up the good work!


  7. David Hodge
    August 23rd, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

    Hi Val and George

    Sorry I’ve been a bit behind in getting caught up with all the recent (and not so recent) comments from our readers.

    I’m glad that the Guitar Noise Podcasts are being of help to you both and I hope that you find the subsequent podcasts equally useful.

    As always, please feel free to leave suggestions and commentary. The feedback we get from our listeners is what will help make the future Guitar Noise Podcasts even better.


  8. George
    August 14th, 2008 @ 9:58 am

    I just picked up the guitar last week and come across your podcast today. I can’t wait to try some of this stuff. (I’m ready to put the scales and chords I’ve been practicing to work) I love how you combine notes, rhythm and music theory. Thanks for explaining what root notes are.

  9. Val Bewer
    July 10th, 2008 @ 2:26 pm

    Hi there,

    now, I finally made it home from work and got around to actually participating during the podcast (at work I just listened to some of them out of curiosity … don’t tell my boss). To be honest, I had not expected to get along with that pattern changing bass notes, up- and downstrokes, and hammer-ons. But as I was working along with the podcast I was surprised at how smoothly it actually went. Now and then I stopped the recording in order to practice the current pattern with the help of a metronome and was quite happy at how well I could do it.
    However now my left wrist feels a little cramped.

    Thanks for the advice and the experience. I guess I will be a busy little student come this weekend.

    Best wishes from Germany


  10. David Hodge
    March 19th, 2008 @ 11:48 am

    Hi Mike

    There’s no hard and fast rules to what notes one “must” use to create an alternating bass line. Our ears are used to hearing the root and fifth, but there are other possibilities.

    With the G and C chords, try using the third hammered on from the second. For the G chord, that means hammering on the second fret of the A string to get the B note (just as you did in the Em example). For C, try the same thing you did with Am, hammering on the second fret of the D string. You should find that these sound fine and are easy to finger.

    Another possibility (one that will be explored in future podcasts) is to pull-off to get the fifth. This requires not fingering the entire chord, as you’ll need to rethink how to place your fingers. For the G chord, for example, Hit the G in the bass and then the high three strings for the chord. Then have your index finger on the second fret of the D string, hit it and pull off to get the fifth and then sound the rest of the chord. For the C chord, you want to shift your index finger up to the second fret of the G string to get the A note and then pull off.

    This last bit seemed a little complicated to try to explain this early in the podcasts, so my apologies for not bringing it up then!

    Hope this helps and I hope you continue to find these podcasts useful.

    And there’s no timetable as far as listening to them! The whole idea is to go at whatever pace suits you best.


  11. Mike
    March 19th, 2008 @ 10:07 am

    I’m a little behind on the podcasts- just listened to #2 last night. The subject is quite appropriate for me right now as i am wanting to learn how to spice up my strumming in songs that I want to sing and play solo. One question came to mind.

    I really like the sound of the alternating bass notes with the hammer-ons. My question is how to apply that concept for other chords besides the Em and Am. In bith of the examples in the podcast, you were alternating tonic notes on the first beat of each successive emasure while applying the hammer on to a fifth note on the third beat. But when I look at how to do this for other basic chord shapes, such as C and G, the tonics and fifths aren’t always so conveniently placed for appling this effect.

    Any suggestions?

  12. David Hodge
    February 29th, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

    Hi Chris

    Getting the hang of hammer-ons with the A chord can be tricky because the A chord is one that people find it hard to get comfortable with for a while. Some things you might try are:

    1) Work with an A7 chord, leaving the G string open, just to get used to the motion of hammering. Then add the index finger again and see how it goes.

    2) Try using a “classical style” A chord. To do this, you want to use either your index or middle finger to fret the note on both the G and D strings. Then use either your middle, ring or even pinky to do the hammer.

    3) Try a “full chord” or “double” hammer – start with no fingers on the strings and then, instead of hammering on only the B string, hammer on all three strings at once. You can also keep only your index finger on the strings and hammer with both the middle and ring finger at the same time. This will not, obviously, give you exactly the same effect, but with repetition, you should be able to get more control over individual hammering and eventually get where you’re going!

    I hope this helps. For more advice, you might want to try posting a note on the Guitar Noise Forum page. You should get even more helpful hints for the GN Forum members.


  13. chris
    February 27th, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

    The podcasts are great. i started playing fingerstyle a few years ago because I got so frustrated by my lack of progress in strumming. Do you have any tips on getting clear tone on the hammer-on on the B string with the A chord, my fingers are so jammed up in getting the A shape that it seems pretty difficult (I use my index finger on the G, middle finger on the D and ring finger on the B string). Thanks.

  14. David Hodge
    February 18th, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

    Hi Sammy and Kin

    Sammy, we try to keep something of a schedule at Guitar Noise but it’s not the easiest thing, owing to the fact that we’re all volunteers and we try to do what we can in our spare time. And, judging by the posts on the Guitar Noise Forum page, I truly doubt that you’re our only metalhead reader! ; – )

    Kin, there are a lot of what we call “slap your forehead” moments in learning guitar – times when we figure out something that we realize should have been obvious to us from the start. We all have had them and continue to have them regardless of how long we’ve been playing.

    Trouble is that there are a lot of things concerning guitar playing (and music in general) that don’t get explained unless someone asks because we forget all the things concerning playing that we learned along the way. They just seem so part of what we do that we don’t think twice about them. The little tip about upstrums is one I teach regularly, but not until writing an article for Play Guitar! Magazine did I think about mentioning it in my writing. And it certainly made a lot of sense to bring it up here in the Guitar Noise Podcasts.

    Hopefully we’ll have a lot more little tips that will make playing easier and more fun. One thing that certainly helps make the podcasts better is the feedback that we’re getting. Keep it up!

    Looking forward to chatting with you all again soon.


  15. Kin
    February 18th, 2008 @ 9:55 am

    Wow, I had no idea you weren’t supposed to hit all the strings on an upstrum(!), and so I always just avoided upstrumming totally because it sounded wrong. Changing that and adding the hammer-ons have made a pretty big difference. Thanks for the podcasts and I’m looking forward to the next one.

  16. Sammy
    February 15th, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

    Thanks! You were true to your word.

    ~Your (probably) only metalhead reader

  17. David Hodge
    February 13th, 2008 @ 6:54 am

    You’re welcome, Wai and Tony!

    Remember if you’ve got any suggestions on how we can make these even better, please write and let us know. We think we’ve got a handle on making the sound quality a little better and we’re hoping that we’ll have it in place for our next podcast, which will go online on Monday, February 25.


  18. Tony
    February 13th, 2008 @ 5:52 am

    Thank you, the podcasts are well done. Very useful and looking forward to more.

  19. Wai
    February 13th, 2008 @ 12:34 am

    Thank you for the podcasts, they are very helpful!

  20. David Hodge
    February 12th, 2008 @ 7:25 pm

    Hi David (and great name, by the way!)

    Yes, “hammer-on” is a word, but I’m not sure it’s approved by Mr. Webster or any of the other major dictionary publishers as yet…

    And they are fun and amazing, no? Sometimes you can make huge changes in your sound and take big steps with your playing by doing very little. One thing I try to stress with my students is that your fretting hand ultimately wants to be as active as your strumming hand, even if you’re only strumming chords. And I hope that this series of Guitar Noise Podcasts on strumming will help beginners to achieve this goal.

    However you managed to find Guitar Noise, we’re glad you did. Welcome aboard and I hope you have a great time making music with your guitar.


  21. David
    February 11th, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

    I finished a couple of hours of practice, fretboard excercises and two easy pieces I thought I could play until I added a metronome. A little frustrated I clicked on your podcast and played along. The beauty of those two chords with the hammer ons (is that a word?) put me back on track. I don’t honestly know how I got to Guitar Noise but it has become a great resource for me.
    and yes I am another David.