5 Exercises to Build Your Legato

5 Exercises to Build Your Legato

Legato playing is a great skill to have in your guitar toolkit, especially if you’re looking to get into more speedy technical playing. Legato fits into all genres, but it sounds especially great in rock, metal and shred guitar.

Legato is a term which describes a bunch of different techniques, but the overarching theme is that all these techniques involve joining notes together smoothly. You probably already know some legato techniques such as hammer ons, pull offs and slides.

In this lesson we’re going to focus on multi part hammer ons and pull offs. If some of the exercises are tricky at first, don’t worry. It takes a while to build up the strength and dexterity. Focus on every note being clear and don’t worry about speed right away. Speed will build once you have the strength.

Exercise 1

Exercise 1

This first exercise is a series of ascending hammer on triplets across the B and E strings. With this being triplets, there are 3 notes across each beat.

On each beat you will only be picking once, the remaining notes are generated by a hammer on. Pick the 5th fret on the B string, hammer onto the 7th and from there hammer on to the 8th. This is all one motion. Repeat on the E string.

Take your time to get the triplets rolling in time, you don’t want it to sound rushed.

Exercise 2

Exercise 2

This exercise is the same as the first, but backwards.

For this, you are placing your fingers in position and pulling off from the 8th to the 7th to the 5th. There is still only one pick stroke per beat and the triplet rhythm is the same.

Exercise 3

Exercise 3

This exercise has an extended legato phrase. You’ll be playing 6 notes with one single pick stroke.

The exercise itself is straight 16th notes which means you’re hearing 4 notes per beat.

Getting 6 notes from a single pickstroke will take a little building so start slow and focus on the clarity of each note. You’re actually leading with your third finger and the first hammer on hammers with your little finger. Focus on the slow finger movements to really get the strength in line before building the speed.

Exercise 4

Exercise 4

This exercise also translates into a great, fast rock lick. If you’ve already learnt Minor Pentatonic scales, the shape here will feel slightly familiar but with some additional notes added.

Think of this as two small phrases.

On the first beat you are picking the 5th fret of the high E before doing a descending pull off on the B string, then on the second beat you’re picking the 8th fret of the G and doing an ascending hammer on up the B string.

This is straight 16th notes so you’ll once again hit 4 notes across a beat.

Exercise 5

Exercise 5

This final exercise is another that builds into a fast rock lick and it combines triplet pull offs with a faster ascending picked triplet.

The initial pull off is the same as you learnt in Exercise 2, but the second triplet is all picked. This is important because these picked notes create an accent with some pick attack that makes the lick sound interesting.

The back half on beats 3 and 4 is just descending pull off triplets as you learnt in Exercise 2.

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar tutor with experience in helping students from complete beginners upwards to progress on the guitar. He is part of a community of guitar teachers who are dedicated to helping students to learn to play the guitar, where the student has no prior experience, through carefully planned beginner guitar lessons.

To find out more about booking your first guitar lesson simply visit MusicTeacher.com.

Top