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How to Play Legato on Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to play legato on guitar in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


Alright. Legato techniques were popularized in the 1980's by Eddie Van Halen. The basic idea is that you're taking a note off of the first note you play, you can pick a note, and then hammer-on and pull-off and get a whole flurry of other notes. Say I'm at the fifth fret. My A natural minor scale is this. If I ascend I get this. So, you understand, I'm just ascending and descending.

Now, if I take those first three notes and instead of picking I hammer-on and pull-off, alright, that's the beginning of a legator pattern. If I continue down the scale I don't need to pick the next string because my hand is coming and hammering-on. The hammer-on is the source of the sound.

I can do the same thing on the next string. Alright. So when it's quick it sounds like that. Any note I land on I can take that note and do the same pattern. So, here I'm going to do the same pattern with this B.

A good way to practice these is not necessarily to start out going across the neck. Just like we started that lick on one string and then two strings, try practicing it on one string. If I do two strings.

What if I want to ascend through the scale? Ascending is a little trickier, but I can do it by sliding and picking. So, when you ascend you have to pick each new string.

This is pretty advanced stuff. You might not want to start out with this if you're new to the guitar. Make sure you go slow, and try not to do everything at once. Try to do one or two strings at a time, and pace yourself.

Thank you for checking out this lesson on legato playing.

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