By: Dr. Matt Warnock
As you’ve probably noticed, adding something as simple as a slur (hammer-on or pull-off) can make any scale much trickier to master. The most important issue when adding slurs is rhythm. It’s easy to play up and down a scale in time when you pick every note, but just by adding slurs the time can sometimes get a little funny. Make sure to focus on having all 4 notes be the exact same duration when playing these fingerings. And, if you aren’t already, using a metronome is the key to mastering this technique with solid time.
If you find that you are rushing or dragging those two middle notes, where the slur occurs, try taking those notes out of context and practicing them on their own. You can just take the 6th string for example and practice hammering-on and pulling-off between your 2nd and 3rd fingers on your fretting hand. Most of the time when we encounter a rhythmic problem that is related to a technical issue, such as a slur, the problem is due to a lack of hand strength or coordination.
Taking that specific problem area out of the scale itself and isolating it can make a big difference when mastering these problem areas. So, don’t be afraid to break things down to the area that is causing you trouble, and then build things back up from there.
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Warnock is a jazz educator and performer in Manchester, UK. He owns and operates www.mattwarnockguitar, a free online resource for jazz guitarists and is on the faculty of the Leeds College of Music. You can connect with him on Facebook as well as sign up for his free weekly jazz newsletter, where you’ll get free copies of his ebook “10 Essential ii-V-I Licks” and “5 Essential Jazz Scale Techniques” when you sign up.