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Legato Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs – Lead Guitar Lesson #8

October 31, 2019


Alright, welcome to video #8 of the Lead Guitar
Quick-Start Series. In this lesson we’re going to learn about legato technique. Legato
technique is made up of two smaller techniques, hammer-ons and pull-offs. The cool thing about
legato technique is it gives your picking hand a break and it creates a really smooth
cool new sound that you can use for your leads. We’re going to look at hammer-ons first
and then we’re going to look at pull-offs. Once we get both of those down, we’re going
to put them together for full blown legato technique and then we’re going to apply
that to some of the skills you’ve learned already in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series.
To get started, we need to get you to learn how to perform a hammer-on. To do that, we’re
going to use our G minor pentatonic scale that we’ve been working on. Put your first
finger on the third fret of the D string and that’s going to be the first note that you
pick. Now the idea is to come down to the next note, the next highest note on that string
with your third finger after you picked that note, but you’re not going to pick it. You
just got to come hammer down on it, right? Just like a hammer to make it sound, right?
You don’t want to do it too hard; otherwise that string will go sharp. That note will
go sharp. Listen. See here, it’s a little bit too sharp. And you don’t want to do
it too soft, otherwise the string wont ring out. You want to make sure that you do it
hard enough for the string to ring out. The idea is to make the picked note and the hammered-on
note about the same volume. So just work on that, pick, hammer-on, pick, hammer-on, make sure to come right behind the fret with your hammer-on too. So practice that for a while until you get comfortable with the idea of doing a hammer-on.
And that’s the first half of your legato technique. The second half of legato technique
is pull-offs. Here index finger back here on the third fret of the D string again but
this time you’re going to put your third finger on the fifth fret at the same time.
You’re going to pick now. That note on the fifth fret is going to ring out. Then what
you’re going to do is pull-off of that note on the fifth fret and it’s just like I’m
plucking the string with my third finger, right? So if I pick it and then pull-off,
you get a kind of down and out motion. So pick, pull-off, pick, pull-off. So get used to that.
You don’t want to do it too hard or it will kind of go out of tune again, right? You don’t
want to do it too soft either, otherwise the note that you’re holding down with your
index finger back here wont ring out, so kind of like that. You want to make sure to do
it just in a good balance to where the note that you pick and the note that you pull-off
to are about the same volume. Just do that over and over again – pick, pull-off, pick,
pull-off. Now if you need a couple of weeks or even a couple
of months to get your hammer-ons and pull-offs sounding good, that’s totally fine. This
is a technique that’s going to take a while to develop. Now we’re going to combine hammer-ons
and pull-offs to full legato technique. So let’s go back to those same two frets that we were just playing. Get your first finger on the third fret of the D string. Pick that note,
hammer-on to the fifth fret with your third finger and right after you hammer-on you’re
going to want to pull-off, so pick, hammer-on, pull-off; pick, hammer-on, pull-off. And then
once you get that going, pick, hammer-on, pull-off, hammer-on, pull-off, you can just
keep it going. You only have to pick the first initial note.
So that’s kind of the heart and soul of legato technique. You pick once and then you can
just do hammer-ons and pull-offs. It’s a lot easier on the picking hand and it’s
a bit smoother sounding too. Now we’re going to apply this legato technique to our minor
pentatonic scale and if you’re just jumping in on this video, you should go back to the
video on the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series where we learn this minor pentatonic scale
shape. The basic idea for using legato technique
throughout a scale is to use hammer-ons whenever you can when you’re ascending up the scale,
and pull-offs whenever you can when you’re descending throughout the scale. Let me show
you what I mean. If you were to normally pick through this entire minor pentatonic guitar
scale, it would sound like that. When you’re ascending, let’s work on this ascending.
Pick the first note of each string then hammer-on to the second note. So I’m picking the first
note then hammering-on to the sixth fret with my pinky, and those are the two notes on that
string. Now go over to the next string. Pick the first note on the third fret, index finger
is there. Hammer-on to the next note, in this case it’s your third finger on the fifth
fret. Next string over, pick, hammer-on. Next string over, pick, hammer-on. Same thing on
the next string, pick the lowest note, hammer-on to the highest note then the last string same
exact thing. So here’s how that would sound, beginning to end without stopping. Listen to how much smoother it sounds than picking each note. Now this may be a little bit more difficult for you because it’s quite a workout for your pinky but
work through it. Work on developing that pinky and strengthening it up too.
Now let’s work on descending through the scale. Get your first finger in place back
here on the third fret and your pinky in place here on the sixth fret. What you’re going
to do is pick the first note, pull-off to that lower note where your index finger is
already there waiting, right? So pick, pull-off. And there are a couple different schools of
thought here as far as technique for this. You can do it like we just did with your index
finger planted back here, or you can pick and kind of come down on that third fret with
your index finger too. Either way is fine, just kind of experiment with both of those
and see which one works better for you. But pick, pull-off, go to the next string, exact same
thing, pick, pull-off. Next string, pick, pull-off, pick, pull-off, pick, pull-off,
pick pull-off. And don’t forget about all the muting tips that I gave you with your
picking hand and your fretting hand. Those are going to come in real handy here. So work on that. Work on ascending through the scale and descending as well and you don’t have
to keep the scale going all in one direction, up and down. You can mix the notes up too.
The idea here is to give you a new tool to make your playing sound smoother. So go through the three scales we’ve learned – the minor pentatonic scale, the major scale and the
major pentatonic scale and apply legato technique to those.
The major scale is going to be a little bit harder than the major pentatonic scale or
the minor pentatonic scale, because you have more notes #1 and #2 some of the strings have
two notes, some of the strings have three notes. So let me just go through that for you real quick. The first string, the low E string, pick, hammer-on. Next string over you have three notes on, so you’re going to pick the first note, then hammer-on, hammer-on. Same thing on the
next string, pick, hammer-on, hammer-on. Next string over same thing, pick, hammer-on, hammer-on.
Next string over only has two notes, so pick, hammer-on. And the next string over has three notes again. And on the way down for that one you have pick, pull-off, pull-off; pick,
pull-off; pick, pull-off, pull-off; pick, pull-off, pull-off; pick pull-off, pull-off;
pick, pull-off. So that whole scale together. So pull up a jam track, it doesn’t matter which
one, any of the ones we’ve covered so far and try going through each of these scales
using legato technique – the major pentatonic scale, major scale, and minor pentatonic scale. I’ve put together a couple licks for you that are going to help you learn how to apply
this technique even further. This first lick uses the minor pentatonic scale and we start
off on the root note right here on the third fret of the high E string with your first
finger. Play that note with a downstroke. Then you’re going to go over to the B string
with your pinky on the sixth fret with an upstroke, then pull-off to the third fret
with the first finger then hammer back on to the sixth fret with your pinky. So far
you have, then pull-off again to your first finger on the third fret. From there, go over
to the G string fifth fret with your third finger and play that with a down stroke, then pull-off to the third fret with your index finger and end the lick on the root note,
this G right here on the fifth fret of the D string. This next lick is a major pentatonic scale lick and it’s going to start off on the
fourth fret of the G string with your third finger. Play that note, downstroke, and pull-off
to the second fret. Go over to the D string with your pinky on the fifth fret, play that
note, an upstroke. Pull-off to the second fret with your index finger. So far you have,
then hammer-on back to the fifth fret with your pinky then go back over to the second
fret of the G string with your first finger, the downstroke; fourth fret with your third
finger on that G string, bend up a half-step, let it down. So, from there after the bend play
the second fret of the G string and you’re going to end on the root note of the fifth
fret on the fourth string right there with your pinky. So slowly.
This last legato lick uses the major scale, so what we’re going to do is start here
on the fifth fret of the G string. Play that note, pull-off to the fourth fret with your
third finger. Pull-off to the second fret with your index finger. So pick, pull-off,
pull-off. From there you’re going to go over to the D string, the fifth fret of the
D string with your pinky. Pick that note with an upstroke. Then go back over to the G string with your first finger. Pick that note with a downstroke, hammer-on to the fourth fret
with your third finger, hammer-on to the fifth fret with your pinky. Here’s the whole thing
from the beginning. And to finish this lick we have to learn a little new technique. You’re
going to grab the third fret of the B string with your middle finger, and from there you’re
going to roll or collapse that middle finger over to the third fret of the high E string.
So you’re going to have to learn how to roll that middle finger over to get both of those
notes. You’re going to want to let up on the pressure on that B string so it doesn’t
ring out, so you have this total. Once you can play all these licks, just pull
off the jam tracks and start experimenting around for yourself using a legato technique
with these skills, making up your own stuff. I hope this lesson has given you a new tool
that you can use to further your self-expression on a guitar. In the next lesson I’m going
to give you some tips for developing solos, so we’re going to start putting everything
that we’ve worked on so far together and after that we’ll learn your first guitar
solo. If you have any questions about legato technique, leave them here. I’ll get back
to you. You can also email me [email protected] See you.

18 Comments

  • Reply ThePookiiie August 20, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    im sorry, were can I find the jam track?

  • Reply Clowder January 13, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    This is great! But just 5.500 views…

  • Reply 홍이 February 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I want to be good at lead guitar but it's hard..

  • Reply Allan Morningstar March 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Nate,   I am finding that when I go to do the " Hammer on " when I hit the string , all I am doing is deadening the string, did I miss a lesson on this , or can you think of what I'm doing wrong ?   Thanks   Al

  • Reply nyanrlz April 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Hey Nate, can you give some tips on pulloffs on more than one string.

  • Reply Maddie Brown July 24, 2015 at 3:42 am

    What's the best way to get better at improvising in lead guitar?

  • Reply Street Gamer November 27, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    does this work on a acoustic guitar?

  • Reply Austin Williams December 7, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Should you practice this with an amp.

  • Reply M.Aanas hussain April 25, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    i am playing guitar since one year but i cant still remember scales and dont know from where have to sought out right scales
    so can you tell me some techniques to remember scales and from where i can get right scales

  • Reply Ryan Ellis May 13, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Is it really necessary to make the stretch from the 3rd to 5th fret with your index and middle finger? My hand doesn't like to make that stretch easily, its much easier for me to use my index and ring finger to hammer on/pull off between the 3rd and 5th frets. Why does it matter???

  • Reply Ben X G July 1, 2016 at 1:08 am

    How do we move the pick when going through the scale?

  • Reply Christine Sabella April 9, 2017 at 6:48 am

    I can't do it on an acoustic guitar! It is driving me crazy

  • Reply Brandon Thompson June 30, 2017 at 5:42 am

    I always thought I was being lazy playing like this but i guess i was doing something right haha

  • Reply randyrrs July 13, 2017 at 4:18 am

    so which ones are rhythm guitar techniques? just chords?

  • Reply Isaac newton molsoi meskarai 097vd August 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Nate my pinky doesn't work nicely, can u help me out

  • Reply yusuf olusegun August 4, 2018 at 2:31 am

    it hand wrecking on acoustic

  • Reply Keith Davis January 4, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Fabulous lesson Nate 🙂

  • Reply Anthony USA July 27, 2019 at 1:54 am

    So I picked up a sustain pedal. Could you imagine it didn't come with a power supply. So I picked up a power supply. And it still gets.dark at night.

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