I am trying to learn "When the saints go marching in" and got a tab, the tab plays great in Guitar Pro but I'm finding it a bit confusing to play (I'm still learning fingerstyle guitar).

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In the above I'm not sure how to play the 16th notes, do I hammer on to them or pull off or what? It's even more confusing because one of the 16th notes is on an open string...

3 Answers 3


You shouldn't have to either hammer on or pull off. This pattern can be played with thumb=>6th string, index=>4th, middle=>3rd, ring=>2nd, and using these fingers to pluck the notes that occur on those strings.

Using p,i,m,a for thumb, index, middle and ring fingers respectively the plucking would go something like:

| <p&m> i p m i | <p&m> i a p m i |

where I've tried to indicate the timing with the spacing between the symbols.

  • That makes a bit more sense, I'll try it out and come back :)
    – Ryan
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:35
  • @Ryan When you play the beats with your thumb, it gives a stronger rhythm and part separation. It is often actually easier to do too, once you develop just a little extra skill with your thumb. Try <pi> p p ip | <pi> p mp ip as an alternative. Just the same, Ryan, combine the answers that exist today and you have a good picture of what to do.
    – amalgamate
    Aug 14, 2015 at 16:18

Count in the smallest note value to get a good idea of the rhythm.

Make semi quavers one beat. Crotchets 4 beats and dotted quavers 3 beats and regular quavers two beats.

  • Thanks Neil, I'm totally new to reading music so not totally sure what crotchets are and still getting a rough idea about beats with quavers...
    – Ryan
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:35
  • It is English, English for a quarter note. Quavers are eight notes
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:39

Adding to Neil's idea - count ONE234 TWO234 THREE234 FOUR234- making 16 divisions in a bar. First two notes in bar one are on ONE and TWO. Next two are on THREE and the 4 of THREE. Last note is on FOUR. No need for hammers or pulls.

Obviously, you'll hold the two notes on the 2nd fret through both bars. I'm trying to figure the key, and where in the song this part is. It's a sort of D6.

  • 2
    Another common way to count 16th notes is: "one ee and uh two ee and uh..", which preserves the "one and two and..." of counting eighth notes. Aug 13, 2015 at 19:43
  • Hey Tim, if you need me to I can upload the guitar pro file...
    – Ryan
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:34

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