Legato Techniques

author: Iriathz date: 04/13/2009 category: guitar techniques
rating: 9.6 / votes: 24 
Hello, and welcome to this lesson - I have tried to make it as beneficial and informative as I could. This lesson contains various licks and exercises designed to develop one's legato technique. Legato is simply described as: smooth, and connected. Each note is prolonged, so to allow the note to be held to it's full value until the next note is played. This can be obtained by long slurred runs, for example. Staccato (meaning each note is short and detached), is virtually the exact opposite of legato. On the guitar, a legato run, for example, can be achieved by executing consecutive hammer-ons, and/or pull-offs, with only the first note of each string being picked in most cases (however, this can change). With any of the following exercises, start slowly, and gradually increase the temp. I recommend using a metronome. First lick:
To gain independence and speed between fingers, try this lick.
e|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
G|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
D|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
A|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
E|-1h2-----------------------------------------------------------|
Play this with your first finger on fret 1, and your second finger on fret 2. Play this again, however use your second finger on fret 1, and your third finger (ring finger) on fret 2. Play this yet again, however now use your third finger (ring finger) for fret 1, and your pinky for fret 2. This may be extremely awkward at first, however with practice will feel more natural. Now descend that lick with each of those finger variations, using pull offs.
e|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
G|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
D|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
A|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
E|-1h3-----------------------------------------------------------|
Play this with your first finger on fret 1, and your third finger (ring finger) on fret 3. Play this again with your second finger on fret 1, and your pinky on fret 3. Now descend that lick with each of those finger variations, using pull offs.
e|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
G|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
D|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
A|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
E|-1h4-----------------------------------------------------------|
Use your first finger on fret 1, and your pinky on fret 4. Now descend the lick. Now, onto 3 notes-per-scale. Play this, (it's a G Major scale):
e|--------------------------5h7h8p75-----------------------------|
B|---------------------5h7h8--------8p7p5------------------------|
G|----------------4h5h7------------------7p5p4-------------------|
D|-----------4h5h7----------------------------7p5p4--------------|
A|------3h5h7--------------------------------------7p5p3---------|
E|-3h5h7------------------------------------------------7p5p3----|
Pick only the first note on each string, and hammer-on/pull-off all other notes. Now, let's play a variation of this:
e|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------5h7h8p7p5h7h8|
G|----------------------------------------4h5h7p5p4h5h7-------------|
D|---------------------------4h5h7p5p4h5h7--------------------------|
A|--------------3h5h7p5p3h5h7---------------------------------------|
E|-3h5h7p5p3h5h7----------------------------------------------------|

e|5h7h8p7p5h7h8--------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
This is a great finger exercise, taught regularly by Guthrie Govan.
In many legato runs, players like Steve Vai use trills. This means they alternate between two notes rapidly. Practicing trils are also a great way to build speed and independence between fingers. Have a go at these licks: e|-5h6p5h6p5h6p-repeat--------------------------------------------------| Play this with your first finger on fret 5, and your second finger on fret 6. Play this again with your second finger on fret 5, and your third finger (ring finger) on fret 6. Play this yet again with your ring finger on fret 5, and your pinky on fret 6. e|-5h7p5h7p5h7p-repeat--------------------------------------------------| Now, play this with your first finger assigned to fret 5, and your third finger (ring finger) assigned to fret 7. Play this again with your second finger on fret 5, and your pinky on fret 7. e|-5h8p5h8p5h8p-repeat--------------------------------------------------| Now, play this with your first finger on fret "5", and your pinky on fret "8". I hope this has helped! Please check back for lesson two!
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