Hammer-ons and pull-offs are easy ‘ukulele techniques to add speed and changes in tone to your playing.
To play a hammer-on, pick a note and then ram another finger on a note above it. Don’t pick the second note. For example: 2h3 (the h means hammer-on) – pick the second fret then hammer-on to the third. You can only use as many hammer-ons as you have sustain (or you have to slam your finger on hard enough to make the string ring again). So you couldn’t hammer-on a note then rest, then hammer-on another note if the first note stopped ringing before you could hammer the second. This takes some finger strength, so don’t get discouraged if you have a case of “wimpy fingers”, just keep trying and you will eventually get it.
Pulling-off is the exact opposite of hammering-on. Pick a fretted note then pull (or push) your finger off the note up or down parallel to the frets to sound the note behind it (fretted or not). Don’t pick the second note. For example: 3p2 (the p means pull-off) – pick the third fret then pull-off to the second.
Hammer-on and pull-off combos:
You can do combos of the two techniques and create short, fast riffs. Try hammering-on and then pulling-off on the ‘ukulele stirngs. For example: 2h3p2 – pick the second fret then hammer-on to the third then pull-off from the third to the second. Don’t pick the second and third note. Or pull-off then hammer-on a note. For example 3p2h3 – pick the third fret then pull-off to to the second and hammer back on to the third. Again don’t pick the second and third note.
You can also hammer-on or pull-off more than one note. Try double hammer-ons (2h3h5 – Double Hammer On MP3) or double pull-offs (5p3p2 – Double Pull Offs MP3 – Santana uses this a lot with a bend at the end).