Get Started with Hammer-on and Pull-off

If you play mostly chords on the guitar then probably you haven’t heard or thought about the legato technique on the guitar – hammer ons and pull offs. Once you need to play the melody then those techniques are essential. Legato means to join the notes smoothly and this term is used most often in classical music. On a guitar the term legato usually means the technical legato that is producing sound with the left hand only.

There are two types of legato: hammer on and pull off. Hammer on means to produce the sound by hammering a string to a fret by a left hand finger. Pull off means that the sound is produced by plucking a string with a left hand finger. These are both a bit complicated movements for a beginner and even for many professional players. It takes years to master this technique but meanwhile you need it every day. So a proper practicing will make your legatos better and better.

My advice is to start without right hand as it helps you to concentrate on the left hand movements. Secondly – start with a single finger and open string combinations (there are always at least two notes involved). Then you can gradually add other fingers and start combining pull off and hammer on. Also, then you already need your right hand.

Basic rules: no tension! The movements are light but rather quick and very precise. In this video I introduce the basic legato exercises. Take it slow if you want to get any result 🙂

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