I've been trying to develop my legato technique for about six months using various lessons from the internet. I feel like I'm not improving. Surely I need to practice more and have more patience, but in your experience what exercises and lessons worked for you when learning and developing your legato technique?
1) your legato is only as good as your dampening/muting. Stopping the other strings from ringing out is THE the secret to good legato. Research this - see Eric Johnson's comments about it on his instructional video. Also, John Pettrucci addresses legato in his Rock Discipline Instructional video. Satriani probably has an online lesson about it as well. If you're not proactively stopping the other strings from ringing out, then your legato will sound muddy and unclear.

2) learn some actual solos with solid legato lines - Satriani is really the reference point and, depending on the tune, he can be accessible ( see "Friends" - the solo is accessible, "Always with me Always" with you has a great minor line that starts out the solo - it's fast, but worth trying out). Also check out Iron Maiden solos, such as Aces High, Powerslave ( the slow solo), Wasted Years etc. - Maiden is great because neither guitar player really picks fast, they tend to use legato mostly.

3) exercises - see John Pettrucci's Rock Discipline video for some good exercises.

4) practice trills ( i.e. listen to the start of Voodoo Chile ( the long slow blues version) on Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix- Hendrix would often do trills amazingly fast - practicing doing that help a lot with your general legato technique - just go as fast as you can for a few seconds a few times a day. Exaggerate the speed - the goal is to just do it as fast as possible.
Last edited by reverb66 at Nov 30, 2016,
Part of the technique includes applying just enough force to get the notes to sound ... too much force, and if you're unlucky (like me) then the hand tightens up, and the brain "tightens" with it, becoming a roadblock.

An interesting experiment is to tie a piece of cloth around the neck, near the nut, so that dampens for you ... this is obviously not a permanent solution (that said, I have seen guitarists use a mechanical equivalent), but will let you observe your legato without a load of noise, and hence can be quite encouraging.

I practise odd numbers of notes in a legato shape, such as 7's, 9's, 11's ... Here is an example with 7 notes per string:

low midde high middle low middle high ... change to next string (ascend)

high middle low middle high middle low ... change to next string (descend)

When on treble string, the last "high" of the ascending pattern is also the first "high" of the descending pattern on the treble string.

This disguises to a certain extent what you are doing, and its super easy to play.

I'd play all of that with no picking at all sometimes, or just picking first note on each string.

You also want to see what suits you best with how many fingers you hold down. I mostly only ever have one finger on the neck for legato, making sure the others are relaxed. Some folk keep the first finger down a lot while using others for hammers and pull offs.

The name of the game is nimbleness, agility, and being mentally relaxed, letting that come into your physical approach on the guitar. The mind can wreck technique, or make it loads better.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 30, 2016,
Depends what the specific shortcomings are.

No matter what, I'd suggest taking on real music that uses a lot of legato, as well as examining your technique. For the most part, you should be using the tips of the fingers. The pull-off motion should be like plucking the string with your left hand fingers, and the hammer-on technique should be like the Bruce Lee "Six inch punch", but from half an inch. Always relax the finger as soon as it's off the string, else you'll get the problem of flying fingers.

For exercises, I mostly just run a few scales from the bottom to the top of the fretboard and back down. 3 note per string. Arpeggios sometimes, too. For slides I don't do exercises often, since I use slides extensively in regular playing.
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 30, 2016,