I have a question in regards to the 3-2 pull off. After experimenting one night, I found that my pull offs were crisper and cleaner if I used my left ring finger instead of my left middle finger to do the pull off. After doing this for a few minutes, I started thinking about the physics of using the ring instead of the middle, and it seemed to make more sense. The angle of the pull with the ring finger is more at a right angle to the fret board than the middle. Also, the two fingers are further apart, therefore leaving more string between index and ring finger. This seems to make the string easier to "pluck" with the ring finger during the pull off.
My question would be is this acceptable, and do you see any drawbacks in doing the pull off this way?
Ross Nickerson Answer
That's a very good question.
The answer is yes, and no I suppose depending on your level of wanting to do it like Earl or how most people do it. However I think it's a great way to hear what the pull-off should sound like. It is much easier that way. You get a lot more leverage and downward motion on the string, more control and the pull-off consequently will sound a lot better.
My best advice, keep doing it with the ring finger. After you really feel like you have it down and feel like you know what it's supposed to sound like (I'm assuming you just learned it by saying that) then, try producing the same sound with the middle finger. If that doesn't happen, good music is the priority, not how everyone else says it's supposed to be done... and by the way I have seen a pro or two doing it that way. I do ring to index 3-2 pull-offs on the first string all the time, that is a standard technique.
You have kind of answered your own question by discovering how much easier it is with the ring finger, it's because of the angle coming down. The ring finger can almost come down straight off the string at a 90 degree angle You can also reach all the way out to the third fret where there is more string to grab.
So the lesson we learn from this and the question of how to get a better pull-off with the middle finger is to stretch your fingers so that you can reach the third fret with your middle finger and then do you best to pull straight down at a 90 degree angle towards the floor when you pull-off. I wouldn't expect you to be able to do that right away, but now you know what you could do to accomplish a better pull-off with the middle finger, and you discovered it by understanding why it's easier to pull 3-2 with the ring finger. I teach students to do a index to ring two fret stretch starting at the 12th fret and working their way down, so as the frets get further apart they have to stretch further. That's how I improved my 3-2 pull-offs. Ever wonder why they're easier with a capo on? Same reason, you can reach out to the third fret and get more straight downward motion when the frets are closer together.
It's the worth the effort to get these to sound good, they're in practically every arrangement, and once you got em, they work great!