6 Pull-Off Exercises to Practice Daily (Guitar TAB and Tips)

Guitar pull-offs are a type of legato technique that every guitarist should learn early.

The sooner you learn how to perform pull-offs properly, the easier it will be to learn the songs you want to play – no matter what style of music.

The good news is that you can master pull-offs by practicing only 6 exercises. I have been giving these 6 exercises to my students for 15 years and when practiced properly, they’re extremely effective.

If you practice these 6 pull-off exercises every day, you’ll quickly master the skill and develop a solid legato technique.

This lesson shows each exercise in Guitar TAB and Standard Notation (click links to learn how to read music).

After you try out these pull-off exercises, add them to your guitar practice routine and spend a few minutes working on them daily.

Also, check out this lesson on Hammer-ons as it’s important to develop both hammer-on and pull-off techniques.

Why Practice These Exercises Daily

The goal of practicing these exercises is to build up your finger stamina and dexterity as well as practice every possible finger combination you may use in a song.

I noticed that a lot of other lessons on pull-offs ask you to practice scales up and down the neck. These exercises take a different approach.

The idea with these exercises is to work on each finger combination you may use in any scale and work on it until you can play each combination with blazing speed and accuracy.

These exercises are also a great warm-up for your hand – especially once you start feeling comfortable with them and are able to build up your speed.

Pull-Offs Exercise Tips

Here are a few simple tips to help you get the most out of these pull-off exercises:

Use a metronome: playing these exercises along with a metronome is absolutely essential if you want to develop rock-solid timing and fluid technique. Download a free metronome app on your phone and use it to guide you as you work through these exercises.

Start at a slow tempo: if you want to be able to play lightning-fast legato, you need to start at a slow tempo. Play each exercise perfectly at a slow tempo and only increase the tempo if you can play each exercise 3-4 times without a single mistake. If it feels too slow, it’s probably the right starting point. Rushing leads to sloppy technique, so take your time to play with flawless technique.

Gradually increase the tempo over time: treat these exercises like an athlete would treat exercise. You need to gradually build up the tempo over time – don’t expect to be able to play these with perfect accuracy at a high tempo on day 1.

Spend extra time on the difficult finger combinations: some of the finger combinations you practice will feel natural and easy, while others will feel slow and awkward. While you should practice every finger combination, spend extra time on the combinations that feel awkward. Practice them until they feel natural. That way, when that finger combination shows up in a song, you’ll be able to easily play it without thinking.

Pull-Off Exercise 1

The goal with this exercise is to help you focus on developing perfect pull-off technique at a steady rhythm.

Don’t rush this exercise! I know it’s tempting to try and play legato techniques as fast as possible, but if you want to develop good technique you need to start slow and steady.

The first time you try this exercise out, take it slow and don’t use a metronome.

Pay close attention to your finger positioning and accuracy. You want to make sure that every single note rings out clearly. No fret buzzing or muted sounds.

Once you can play the exercise a few times in a row slowly without any mistakes or imperfections, you can start using a metronome at a tempo no higher than 40 bpm.

A 40 bpm metronome will feel ridiculously slow at first, but it’s important to start slow so you can focus on your technique. The metronome will click every time you move to a different string, so you need to practice timing every second note to be evenly spaced between the clicks.

Only increase the tempo of the metronome once you can play the entire exercise 3-4 times perfectly without any mistakes. Then only increase it 5 bpm at a time.

Exercise 1 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 1:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 1

Tip: if you want to spend more time working on any of these exercises, you can simply continue the pattern up the neck. So for this exercise, you would continue by playing the 5th and 6th frets, then the 6th and 7th frets, and so on.

Finger Combinations to Practice

This is a versatile exercise because you can use it to work on a few different finger combinations.

It’s important to work on every possible finger combination so you can easily use those fingers when needed in songs.

There are three possible finger combinations for this exercise:

  1. First and Second fingers (index and middle fingers)
  2. Second and Third fingers (middle and ring fingers)
  3. Third and Fourth fingers (ring and pinky fingers)

It is crucial that you practice all three finger combinations or else you’ll end up with weak areas in your technique.

You will likely find that the first finger combination (1st and 2nd fingers) feels fast and easy, while the third combination (3rd and 4th fingers) feels awkward and slow. This is normal. Be patient and keep spending extra time working on any awkward finger combinations. Your fingers will gradually get stronger and faster if you keep working on them. Eventually, all of the finger combinations will feel completely natural.

Pull-Off Exercise 2

Exercise 1 is an incredibly important exercise to work on, but Exercise 2 will show up more often in songs.

Most guitarists will find this exercise easier than Exercise 1, but you should still work on both of them.

Follow the same advice I gave in Exercise 1 and you’ll find this exercise easy to practice.

Exercise 2 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 2:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 2

Tip: you can also play this exercise backward (still using pull-offs) and move down the neck instead of moving up. For example, when you get to the end, move back up the fretboard using the 4th and 6th frets, then shift back and play the 3rd and 5th frets again. This will help you feel confident moving up and down the neck while using pull-offs.

Finger Combinations to Practice

There are two possible finger combinations for this exercise:

  1. First and Third fingers (index and ring fingers)
  2. Second and Fourth fingers (middle and pinky fingers)

The first finger combination (1st and 3rd fingers) is what you’ll be using most in songs. Any solo that uses the Pentatonic Scale will likely use this finger combination over and over.

The second finger combination (2nd and 4th fingers) is far less common, but it’s a great way to develop finger strength and dexterity. Remember that if something feels slow and awkward, it’s worth spending extra time working on it.

While it’s possible to work on other finger combinations such as the first and fourth fingers (index and pinky), I recommend sticking to the general rule of thumb where you use one finger per fret. Stay consistent with your technique and you’ll progress faster.

Pull-Off Exercise 3

This exercise works your first and fourth fingers (index and pinky). Beginners often find exercises that use the pinky awkward at first.

Don’t skip this exercise if it feels hard. The hard exercises are the most important to work on because that’s where you make the most progress.

There are some guitarists who completely avoid using their fourth finger because they avoided using it when they were beginners. Don’t fall into the same trap. Work on all of your fingers so you can confidently use all of them when needed in songs.

You may find your fingers or hand becomes tired quickly with this exercise. It’s okay to take breaks. Over time, your hand and fingers will get stronger and faster. Don’t give up!

Exercise 3 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 3:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 3

Tip: if you find it difficult to stretch your fingers out in this exercise or any of the other exercises, simply shift the entire exercise up the fretboard. So instead of starting on the 1st and 4th frets, try starting at the 5th and 8th frets, or move up higher to the 10th and 13th frets. As you move up the fretboard, the frets are closer together so it will be less of a stretch for your fingers.

Finger Combinations to Practice

This exercise only works on the first and fourth fingers (index and pinky) due to the wide stretch. So you won’t need to spend as much time on this exercise compared to the other exercises that can be played with a variety of finger combinations.

But you should still spend enough time on it to properly work your fourth finger.

Pull-Off Exercise 4

The first three exercises are crucial to developing your pull-off technique. The next three exercises help you take your pull-off technique further and prepare you for typical pull-off patterns you’ll see in songs.

Only work on the next three exercises after you have spent some time practicing the first three exercises.

If you have trouble playing any of the first three exercises, you’re not quite ready to work on these.

These exercises build on the technique worked on earlier and combine two pull-offs in a row.

Being able to play two pull-offs in a row isn’t difficult, but there are a few important things you need to keep in mind to play them properly.

The most important point to remember with this exercise is to keep your timing consistent.

Beginners will often play the pull-offs fast, then have a slight pause as they move to the next string. This creates a gallop-feel in the rhythm instead of a steady flow of notes.

It should sound like “one – two – three – one – two – three” (evenly spaced notes) and not “one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three”.

An easy way to make sure you evenly space your notes is to set up a slow metronome and play one-note-per-click. This will force you to keep a steady rhythm.

Once you’re able to play one-note-per-click perfectly, you can change to playing three notes per metronome click. Just make sure the spacing between each note and string stays even.

Exercise 4 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 4:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 4

Remember with this exercise that you only pick each string once at the start.

Tip: Exercises 4, 5 & 6 use triplets for the rhythm so you can play one string per metronome click. Make sure you evenly space each note so it doesn’t sound like groups of three notes. It should sound like a constant flow of notes – just like the earlier exercises.

Finger Combinations to Practice

There are two finger combinations I recommend you work on with this exercise:

  1. First, Second, and Third fingers (index, middle. and ring fingers)
  2. Second, Third, and Fourth fingers (middle, ring and pinky fingers)

While it is possible to use other finger combinations (eg: first, second, fourth), I recommend sticking to the one-finger-per-fret general rule.

Practicing these finger combinations on the lower frets will also help give your fingers a good stretch.

If you find that it’s too hard to stretch your fingers out to play the pull-offs properly, shift the entire exercise higher up the fretboard. Then over time, you can work your way back down and further stretch your fingers out.

Pull-Off Exercise 5

The finger pattern used in Exercise 5 is extremely common in scale runs and solos, so it’s worth spending some time working on it.

As you might guess from the below TAB, this exercise uses your first, second, and fourth fingers (index, middle, and pinky).

Don’t stress if you initially have trouble getting your fourth finger to play in time. Many beginners first struggle to control their fourth fingers, but with enough practice, you will be able to play it as effortlessly as your other fingers.

Exercise 5 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 5:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 5

Follow the same advice mentioned in Exercise 4 when working on this exercise. Make sure you keep your rhythm steady and notes evenly spaced.

Finger Combinations to Practice

This exercise focuses completely on the first, second, and fourth fingers (index, middle, pinky).

Pull-Off Exercise 6

This last exercise is also extremely common to see in scale runs and solos – especially the Pentatonic Scale.

After you spend time working on all six of these exercises, you’ll find that you will be able to pick any scale and easily glide up and down the fretboard with rapid-fire pull-offs.

Spend time every day working on all six exercises for the best results. Many of my students use these exercises and these hammer-on exercises as their daily warm-up routine.

This exercise works on your first, third, and fourth fingers (index, ring, pinky). Some guitarists find Exercise 5 easier than this one, while others will find this one easier.

Whichever one you find easier, make sure you work on both of them until both feel just as easy to play perfectly.

Exercise 6 Guitar TAB

Here is the Guitar TAB and Standard Notation for Exercise 6:

Guitar Pull Off Exercise 6

Tip: if you want to spend more time on any of these exercises, simply continue the pattern higher up the fretboard. Keep shifting up one fret and reverse direction until you reach the highest frets on your guitar.

Finger Combinations to Practice

This exercise focuses completely on the first, third, and fourth fingers (index, ring, pinky).

Pull-Offs Exercises Video

I’m working on a video that will demonstrate all of these exercises at different tempos.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel here to get notified when the video is available.

Let me know what you would like to see in the video or any other video ideas here.

Useful Lessons and Resources

Here are some lessons and guides to help you get the most out of this lesson: