GUITAR TECHNIQUE: Rapid Fire Legato...

Applying a flowing series of hammer-ons and pull-offs can boost your playing speed faster than almost any other playing method. 

When developed to even basic levels, your playing style and your overall sound will change significantly. Read on to discover the unique effects available to the legato guitarist...

The legato approach bypasses much of the picking hand, (so if you're lousy at alternate picking technique this could be the boost you're after). Instead legato is based off of using repeating hammer-ons and pull-offs. This means that the focus is entirely upon the use of the fretting hand. And, accuracy becomes top priority.

Hitting the frets perfectly when applying hammer-ons and flicking the string strong enough when using pull-offs is the real key to developing this technique. Work on the ascending and descending hammer-on to pull-off drill in example one below to begin developing this idea.

Example #1). Accuracy Drill

The double whole-step reach applied in example one will help with your ability to stretch out to notes and target them with good technique. The hits of each hammer-on will need to occur with the tip of your finger. The pull-offs will need to snap the string with enough force so as to produce a good resonance. Practice the example where it is written, then try moving it to other locations and strings around the fingerboard.

Being able to isolate the hammer-on technique from the pull-off in a separate drill for each technique will lead to much higher levels ability for legato technique overall. In example two, I have an exercise which isolates the hammer-on. Then in example three I've organize a similar exercise that isolates the pull-off.

Example #2). Isolation exercise for hammer-ons.

Example #3). Isolation exercise for pull-offs.

Blending the legato techniques together, into one flowing passage, along side of passages you already know will do wonders for the overall application of the concept. In your daily playing, you'll also need to consider ways that you can inject the techniques applied musically when you're performing soloing lines as well as, song parts.

By inventing your own original passages that incorporate these techniques, you'll start noticing that the flow of the technique will become easier to perform. Plus you'll notice that your lines will become more musical as time goes on.

Once you have the legato sound blended into the way that you play guitar, it will be easier to invent passages and you'll find yourself using the technique more readily on scale lines and phrases that you have already been playing for a long time.

Learn the lick notated below in example four. It demonstrates how the legato technique can be applied to a scale line and produce a smooth flowing sound to a melodic passage.

Example #4). Melodic example. Be mindful that as you switch strings you'll be striking the string with your pick. After that, the remaining notes will be done by way of hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Take what you can develop from these ideas and learn to build them into your own melodic parts. Learn how they can be inserted into scale passages, arpeggios, phrases and melodic principles. Over time, you'll be able to create legato ideas anytime you want them.



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