Add Ons: Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, Trills and Bends.

Here are a few more things that you should learn to do on the Bass. They are mostly for getting a certain sound and inflection in the lines when you need that extra bit of "Ooomph"!

They are all fairly easy to do, so take the time to get each of these add ons down.

You should be able to get them all down in one evening.

1. Hammer-ons.

A Hammer-on is when you play a note (e.g.. C) and you then use another fretting hand finger to play another note on the same string (e.g.. D) without plucking the string again.

Basically, it's very similar to tapping except you do it with the same hand that you fret with while you're already playing a note.

This is a good technique for playing melodic lines since it can make the line sound very smooth and even if done correctly.

2. Pull-offs.

Pull-offs are basically the exact opposite of Hammer-ons.

To play one, you simply fret two notes on the same string (e.g.. C and Bb) and you pluck the string with both fretted. Without plucking the string again, you lift up the finger on the highest note and let the string ring.

This is similar to the Hammer-on in that it allows you to play with a certain fluidity that makes melodic lines sound better and smoother.

3. Bends.

A Bend is when you play a note and you literally bend the string and change the pitch. Most of the time, the string is bent to either half or the full value of another note (i.e.. Bending a C until it sounds like a C#).

Harmonics can also be bent, although this isn't as common on the bass as it is on the guitar.

4. Trills.

A Trill is simply a note that is played and then a Hammer-on and Pull-off are done repediately in quick succession to create the effect (i.e.. Play a C and then keep Hammering a Db and then pulling it off again and again).

These can be very funky if used correctly and are well placed as add ons. They are also some of the easier embellishments to add to a line, so be sure to get them down.

Return to the Playing the Bass page from the Add Ons page

Return to the Homepage