Legato Techniques

This lesson contains various licks and exercises designed to develop one's legato technique.

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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!

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    alicivit
    great explanation! I have searching for a good teacher for all day :W!!!
    xXxA7X~Fan07xXx
    Thanks for posting this lesson dude. It will help me get better at my hammer-ons, pull-offs, and my lead guitar in general. Reminds me of how Rusty Cooley plays but not as fast but you could get as fast as him eventually which is what I plan to do.
    guitarlord28
    My main problem is playing fast, smoot, Vai-like legato on the higher frets. I start to ignore my pinkie as there seems to be not enough room. Any tips for this?
    guitar-vetaran
    guitarlord28 play licks that are 4 frets long and uses one finger per fret e.g. 1st 5th fret 2nd finger 6th fret 3rd finger 7th fret and 4th finger 8th fret. i use to play with just 3 finger and i couldnt streech big because my pinky wasnt strong enouth but this rule helped alot
    M41d3n4l1f3
    is it just me or is it really really awkward pulling off say ---4p3p2p1-- ---4p3p2p1-- and continue down the neck I usuAlly plant all four finger down first BEFORE I pull them off to get a fuller sound. any recomendations?
    kgp227
    Thanks for the lesson bro. It helped me better understand what I am doing.
    Maidenheadsteve
    really nice job. felt a nice burn in my fingers with the first exercise, and watched them fly faster than before when doing some dave murray stuff