Helpful Exercises to Improve Your Legato Skill

Let’s talk about legato playing today. When I say “legato”, I mean
hammer-ons and pull-offs.

If you can’t do a basic hammer on or pull off, please please please
do yourself a favor and get my beginner lead guitar course
(Killer Lead Guitar Made Simple)

It is often easier to use legato, since
you don’t have to pick every note , and picking involves , well…
developing your picking chops.

However, sometimes playing stuff only legato is harder because
you’re really relying on that fretting hand to do a lot more work.
Repeated hammerons and pulloffs take a lot more out of your fretting
hand than if you just were picking every note.

What I mean is, when you’re picking every note, your fretting
hand must be in place, but it doesn’t have to pull off and hammer
to produce the right sound.

This is especially true if you want a nice, even, round tone, and
more so if the tempo is fast.

And a lot of times you do want a fluid, rolling, lyrical sound
from your playing. Picking every note would sound stiff.

Any way you slice it, if you wanna be a good player, you
need to work on your legato chops at some point.

Here’s a few basic exercises for you.

The easiest is just playing 3 notes on 1 string
in a “diatonic” scale. In this case, from A minor.

Next, we have A pentatonic 3 notes per string
which is harder because of the wider stretch.
(Please dont hurt yourself – never strain)

Finally, we can make it even more challenging
by adding more strings to our lick.

Each of these 3 licks is a “repeating” lick
so feel free to play it with feeling with a killer tone
till the cows come home… 🙂

So , you have 3 licks in increasing order
of difficulty. I happen to be playing these
using 16th notes at 176 bpm. If that’s too
fast, by all means, slowwwwwww it dowwwwwwn….

Or, if you’re badass, try playing it at 200 bmp or

One more piece of advice on this, pay attention
to the other strings ringing open. You may need to do a bit
of palm muting especially if you’re using a distorted tone.
Record yourself and as Steve Vai says, “listen to yourself
with a critical ear.”.


Beginner – Diatonic


Intermediate – Pentatonic


Advanced – Pentatonic 2 strings


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