Basic Legato Exercises

This lesson focuses on exercises to develop legato technique using two notes per string and 3 notes per string.

Pay close attention the hand positioning because it can make or break your ability to play these exercises accurately and smoothly.

These exercises can be used as great technique builders as well as warm-up exercises after you have them down.

They help to develop strength and flexibility in the fret hand and will allow you to add that nice smooth legato effect to your playing.

Be sure to get the PDF download for this lesson.

Basic Legato Exercises TAB PDF

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Basic Legato Exercises


  1. Mike on December 28, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Wow, nice blog! I really like it πŸ™‚

  2. Ken on January 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Carl, another helpful lesson. Thank you. You are eliminating my excuses for not becoming a better player. As a New Years resolution I have placed a guitar next to the sofa (no amp) for redeeming TV time. Hopefully the constant dweedle-de dweedle-de dweedle-de dweedle-de won’t be too distracting to others.

  3. V Albertini on February 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Real techiquine improve exercise! Rock on!

  4. Samuel on March 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Firstly great lesson, but i seem to have a problem, when i practise legato or any technique that requires hammer ons and pull offs the skin on my fingers (mainly little finger) tends to peel slightly, is that normal? Or is there anything i can do to prevent this? Please advise πŸ™‚ Thanks.

    • Carl Brown on March 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      Hey there, yeah that is pretty normal. If you do it enough your fingertips will develop the proper calluses to handle it and you shouldn’t have much problem. Calluses to seem to peel from time to time depending on the weather or if you have taken a break for a few days they may start to breakdown a bit. I guess the idea is if you play more you peel less eventually. πŸ™‚

      Cheers!! Carl..

  5. Adarsh Agarwal on March 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Hey , you have no clue how much i appreciate your lessons , Kudos πŸ™‚

  6. samu on March 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    What do I have to do with my second finger? ( the one we do not use here and in wich we have rings on) I don´t know if a bad position would be dangerous

  7. samu on March 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry I made a mistake , I mean my middle finger xD

  8. Ozzy on April 8, 2011 at 2:25 am

    do i have to play with the very tip of the pinky finger? i find it hard to keep playing with the tip of it and i always find myself playing with the part under the tip =\

    • Carl Brown on April 9, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Depending on how your fret hand is placed over the fretboard the area of your fingertips that you use will vary. I suggest just doing what is comfortable. πŸ˜€


  9. Samueloid on April 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Great web! These exercises are really useful but I have a doubt: Why does the first legato exercise start with an upstroke? Its easier for me start with a downstroke to control the rhytm… What do you think? Is it okay to play it like that?

  10. Samueloid on April 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  11. Ã‑aΓ„ΕΈla on June 24, 2012 at 2:36 am

    My poor little finger :'(

    Thank you Carl πŸ™‚ God bless you, for your free lessons πŸ˜€ Thank you thank you thank you so much. πŸ™‚

  12. Warren on March 20, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Best site on the net, amazing work out I love it.

    Carl you are the best teacher out there. Thanks once again.


  13. Mohnish Doultani on June 26, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Carl you are really a great help than you!! πŸ™‚

  14. percy jackson on March 7, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the lessons! πŸ™‚

  15. Susan Powell on March 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Carl–really enjoying your lessons! The information is great but I notice you’re using an electric guitar for most of these legato and chord stretch exercises. I only have acoustic and the stretches are proving to be difficult for my short stubby fingers. Any tips?

    • Carl Brown on March 8, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Hey Susan, unfortunately these types of techniques will alway be more difficult on steel string acoustics due to the much higher string tension.

      Have you ever tried extra lights strings?


  16. Andrew Taylor on August 21, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Hey Carl,

    Had a couple questions.

    In the first exercise, are you flattening your index finger on the fret to touch the next lower string (touching B while on high E)? It sounds like when you pick up speed in the exercise you don’t hear the string you hammer onto ring when you pull off of it (the B doesn’t ring when you hammer and pull of the 8th fret G. I’m wondering if this is because you’re muting it two to three frets down.

    In the second exercise, I’ve noticed picking up speed compared to all of the other 4 is more challenging. Predominantly this is due to moving the first finger quickly between strings. You can fret both with the first finger but you get two strings ringing out. Any suggestions on how things to do to build up speed on this one?

  17. Angelo Gabriel Locus on August 22, 2021 at 2:01 am

    Hi sir! What is your recommended timeframe of studying/learning the whole intermediate guitar lesson?

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