You may be learning to play your favorite guitar songs and may be using a guitar tab to help you figure out how to play the song. You know that the numbers on the tab indicate the proper string and fret position to press, but then you start to encounter letters such as P and H. What do they mean? What does 0h2 mean in guitar tabs?
In guitar tabs, 0h2 is meant to execute a hammering play, to press down on the second fret from an open string. You only press down on the fret and do not pluck or strum the guitar string. Depending on additional instructions on the tab, it may be played on a particular guitar string.
This article looks at what 0h2 means in guitar tabs and how you can play the movement well by executing the hammering technique properly. We also share how you can get better at hammering on a guitar.
What Is A Guitar Tab?
Guitar tablature is a way to notate guitar music. It is written in a simplified, direct system to help guitarists learn songs quickly. Tablatures use a system of numbers and letters, placing them on a series of six lines, representing six strings. The number tells which string on which fret to press, and the letters indicate a specific technique.
Tablatures can be used on all types of string instruments such as guitar, ukulele, lutes, or vihuela. Tablatures can also be used to notate free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. Tablatures originated in the 14th century and became widespread in the 16th century. The most common tablatures today are guitars and ukuleles.
Tablature spares guitarists from having to learn music theory, as it does not use the common notation system. Rather than relying on a system of crotchets, clefs, and lines denoting notes, tablatures rely on a system of numbers and letters.
In tablatures, the lines represent the strings on the instrument. For a guitar tab, you commonly see six lines representing the six strings on the guitar. You may then see a number written on a particular line. You should press the corresponding string at the fret number written.
For example, if you see a ‘4’ on the 4th line, that means you press down the 4th string, at the 4th fret.
You may also encounter letters such as ‘h’ or ‘p.’ These may indicate a specific play action to execute. For example, an ‘h’ would mean hammering, while ‘p’ may mean a pull-off.
One downside of tablature is that, at times, it may not indicate the strumming pattern. This issue is also similar to chords. Chords also show where to press, but not exactly how to strum the rhythm. This means the guitarist needs to figure out how to match the strumming pattern to the tablature.
READ MORE: Is Using Guitar Tab Cheating?
What Is A Hammering On A Guitar?
Hammering, or hammer-on, is a playing technique used on the guitar. You execute a hammering play by bringing in your finger to press on a string sharply, causing a note to sound faint. It is executed without the other hand performing any strumming or plucking. Hammering can be done on other string instruments with frets, such as the ukulele or lute.
Hammering or hammer-on is a rather popular method in guitar playing, especially electric guitar. This is because guitarists either use it as a way to play very fast. Hammering can be executed to bring in notes at a speed much faster than plucking or picking can follow.
Famous guitarists such as Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen are known to use hammering to play at lightning speed.
Some guitarists also see hammering as a way to embellish or add color to their playing. Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix also use a lot of hammering to produce their soulful masterpieces.
Aside from hammering, some of the other main playing techniques on guitar include pull-off and tapping. Pull-off is the opposite of hammering, to start from a pressed position and then let go of the string. Tapping is to press in but let go instead of holding the string down like hammering.
What Does 0h2 Mean In Guitar Tabs?
When reading a tab, 0h2 should be to execute a hammering, or hammer-on on the second fret, from an open (unpressed) string. You may want to look at the position the 0h2 is written, as it may indicate which string to press.
When reading at guitar tabs, you may encounter the letter ‘h,’ which may mean to execute a hammering or hammer-on.
You, however, will still need to look at the corresponding numbers on the left and right of the letter and the string position.
Let’s take the example ‘0h2’. For this phrase, it would mean:
- 0 = Initial fret position. 0 means no fret is pressed, which also means an open string.
- H = Hammer, to sharply press down the string without plucking.
- 2 = Hammering position. 2 means hammering on the corresponding string at the 2nd fret.
Depending on the string position the phrase is written on, you execute the hammering on the corresponding string.
For example, if the phrase 0h2 is written on the 3rd line, you perform the hammer move on the third string.
How To Get Better Hammering Guitar?
Hammering or hammer-on is a rather specific skill and may take time to master and execute well. Aside from practicing, you may also apply some of these tips to get better:
Focus On Finger Placement
When playing hammer-ons, one of the things you can do is to always take note of your placement. Players sometimes rush their hammer-ons, wanting to produce that sharp, hard tap on the string. But they either missed their target string or did not press the string down properly enough to create a nice note.
Press on the Metal Bridge Of the Fret
This tip may be suitable to some but may be less acceptable to some players as well. One way to simplify the hammering play is to perform it not on the fret but on the fret metal bridge, the one closest to your other hand.
Guitar frets are separated by metal bridges to denote the end of a fret and the beginning of another. These frets are often metal and slightly raised from the fretboard.
This means if you apply a hammer on the right on the bridge hammer, the string may travel less from the neutral position to the fret. This means you can expend less effort and still execute a great hammer-on.
Modify Your Scale Practice For Hammer Ons
Another way to improve your hammer-on technique is to practice it. To practice hammering, you just have to modify your present scale practicing runs.
Instead of pressing and plucking in your usual scale runs, remove your plucking hand from playing. For the fret playing hand, instead of pressing on the strings, you perform hammer on instead.
While practicing, focus on getting the hammering right. The finger should go on the string on hard, sharp contact. If this may help, the effect should be similar to how a hammer lands on a nail. You should hear a nice-sounding hammer-on if you do it right.
You may also consider practicing with your index, middle, ring, and pinky finger, as these fingers may be used to execute hammer-ons.