Legato tips.

ashley willis

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
35
224
446
35
Georgia, USA
Looking for advice on playing legato. I’m fairly decent at the technique except when playing scales/exercises and I work backwards. Going up the board and hammer ons are no problem, but my pull offs going back down are weak and when I add a little more to the pull off, I get a lot of extra string noise. Any tips or technique to improve this would be greatly appreciated.
 

Carlos Owens

Active member
Nov 11, 2019
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25
Panama City, Panama
www.guitarmartialclubpty.com
Guitar Experience (years)
16
Hello! Will be very glad to help you out!

1. Be sure to train thrills: in order to ensure that your hammers and pulls are even sounding, practice 2-note-chromatic thrills all over the fretboard. For this type of exercise you will be using two-finger combinations, for instance: fingers 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4 and so on. The objective will be to make each pulse of the subdivision even in volume. Do it as slow as you can, do not be afraid of going very slow.

1589524086475.png 1589524107707.png 1589524121782.png


2. Emphasize on fingers 3 and 4: Those guys tend to be lazy and require more training in order to develop good hammers and pulls, so always give some extra workout to those fingers. This exercises can be alternated between a 1-3-4 fingering or a 1-2-4 (strech) fingering.
1589524178967.png
3. Pull-offs on Descending legato: You may already know, but the rule of thumb is that whenever you ascend you pick the first note of the sequence going up and, when going down, you always hammer the first note from nowhere and then just keep pulling throughout the lick or whatever you are doing. Try and emphasize on that HAMMER ON FROM NOWHERE. Repeat many times the hammer on that you gotta do when switching strings until you can get a clean cross-string hammer on from nowhere.

3.1 Once you get the items above straight, go on and practice licks or etudes with musical meaning so that legato can be more part of your expresive playing rather than a mechanical notion.

4. General Noise Control: Background noise control is essential when using high gain. Your most important tools will be your index finger on the fretting hand and your palm on the picking hand. This is a little bit tricky to explain in writting, but I'll give it my best shot. Your index finger on the fretting hand has two functions when it comes down to noise control: its "belly" has to mute all the strings as if you where placing a barre chord, but without tension, whereas its "tip" has to be in contact with the string above the note that is fretted in order to keep said string muted. As you move up to the higher strings, the less you will be able to damp with your index finger. That's where the palm of your picking hand comes in, you have to, progressively, mute the strings that are let go by the index finger with your palm.

Let me know if this helps you out. It may be kind of tricky to figure out from text, I should probably shoot a video about this. If any just let me know and I'll try my best to help you.
 

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Lucas Weiman

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Nov 11, 2019
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I hear you on scales played backward (descending) being difficult. I would say Carlos' advice will definitely help,, but the one thing I would add is to remember in achieving those descending pull offs, (and I'm assuming the string changes are the hard part) is that the finger you pull off TO must be already holding down the string and ready to "catch" the pull off in order to achieve your desired note.

In other words, if you are pulling off from your pinky to your middle finger, your middle finger must be set and ready to catch the pull off from your pinky. .. and then subsequently your index finger will need to be ready and holding down the string to catch the pull off from your middle finger, if that is your next note.

If I were you, I would focus the majority of my time to practicing the motion of these example notes, or just apply this position to whatever scale you are using.

string e - 10 - - - - - - - - - - - - - fret 10= index finger
string B- - - - 12 11 10 - - - - - - fret 12= pinky, 11=ring 10= index

I remember this motion of string changing was difficult for me too, and it came up a lot, hence why it's good to focus on it.
Hopefully that makes sense. You can use any strings you want and scale of course, but the fingerings are what is important here. Good luck! :)
 

ashley willis

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
35
224
446
35
Georgia, USA
Hello! Will be very glad to help you out!

1. Be sure to train thrills: in order to ensure that your hammers and pulls are even sounding, practice 2-note-chromatic thrills all over the fretboard. For this type of exercise you will be using two-finger combinations, for instance: fingers 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4 and so on. The objective will be to make each pulse of the subdivision even in volume. Do it as slow as you can, do not be afraid of going very slow.

View attachment 768 View attachment 769 View attachment 770


2. Emphasize on fingers 3 and 4: Those guys tend to be lazy and require more training in order to develop good hammers and pulls, so always give some extra workout to those fingers. This exercises can be alternated between a 1-3-4 fingering or a 1-2-4 (strech) fingering.
View attachment 771
3. Pull-offs on Descending legato: You may already know, but the rule of thumb is that whenever you ascend you pick the first note of the sequence going up and, when going down, you always hammer the first note from nowhere and then just keep pulling throughout the lick or whatever you are doing. Try and emphasize on that HAMMER ON FROM NOWHERE. Repeat many times the hammer on that you gotta do when switching strings until you can get a clean cross-string hammer on from nowhere.

3.1 Once you get the items above straight, go on and practice licks or etudes with musical meaning so that legato can be more part of your expresive playing rather than a mechanical notion.

4. General Noise Control: Background noise control is essential when using high gain. Your most important tools will be your index finger on the fretting hand and your palm on the picking hand. This is a little bit tricky to explain in writting, but I'll give it my best shot. Your index finger on the fretting hand has two functions when it comes down to noise control: its "belly" has to mute all the strings as if you where placing a barre chord, but without tension, whereas its "tip" has to be in contact with the string above the note that is fretted in order to keep said string muted. As you move up to the higher strings, the less you will be able to damp with your index finger. That's where the palm of your picking hand comes in, you have to, progressively, mute the strings that are let go by the index finger with your palm.

Let me know if this helps you out. It may be kind of tricky to figure out from text, I should probably shoot a video about this. If any just let me know and I'll try my best to help you.
The pull-offs on descending legato are my weakness. Ascending I have no problem and descending string changes are even harder. I think it’s just a matter of practicing the trolls with my 3rd and 4th finger to get them use to the motion and strengthen them. I actually practiced what you suggested last night for quite a while. Just a matter of spending time with it and strengthening and training my fingers for the pull-offs. Thank you!
 

ashley willis

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
35
224
446
35
Georgia, USA
I hear you on scales played backward (descending) being difficult. I would say Carlos' advice will definitely help,, but the one thing I would add is to remember in achieving those descending pull offs, (and I'm assuming the string changes are the hard part) is that the finger you pull off TO must be already holding down the string and ready to "catch" the pull off in order to achieve your desired note.

In other words, if you are pulling off from your pinky to your middle finger, your middle finger must be set and ready to catch the pull off from your pinky. .. and then subsequently your index finger will need to be ready and holding down the string to catch the pull off from your middle finger, if that is your next note.

If I were you, I would focus the majority of my time to practicing the motion of these example notes, or just apply this position to whatever scale you are using.

string e - 10 - - - - - - - - - - - - - fret 10= index finger
string B- - - - 12 11 10 - - - - - - fret 12= pinky, 11=ring 10= index

I remember this motion of string changing was difficult for me too, and it came up a lot, hence why it's good to focus on it.
Hopefully that makes sense. You can use any strings you want and scale of course, but the fingerings are what is important here. Good luck! :)
Just training my fingers for the pull offs is going to be the big thing. I love Iron Maiden style legato and as long as it’s ascending or on 1 string, m fine. My biggest weakness that I’ve found is descending legato licks, and as Carlos suggested, I’m going to practice those exercises to strengthen my fingers, mainly 3rd and 4th fingers to work together.
 

Carlos Owens

Active member
Nov 11, 2019
7
34
41
25
Panama City, Panama
www.guitarmartialclubpty.com
Guitar Experience (years)
16
Just training my fingers for the pull offs is going to be the big thing. I love Iron Maiden style legato and as long as it’s ascending or on 1 string, m fine. My biggest weakness that I’ve found is descending legato licks, and as Carlos suggested, I’m going to practice those exercises to strengthen my fingers, mainly 3rd and 4th fingers to work together.
Sure thing! good luck with that! I'll try to make a video about legato and noise control this week.
 

Conor Mason

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
46
107
210
42
Hermitage, Pennsylvania- USA
Guitar Experience (years)
30
don't be afraid to take it slowly and build up finger strength. Doing hammer-on and pull-off exercises help. John Petrucci's Rock Discipline book and DVD are great. I started out by taking my favorite licks from artists I listened to and learning them a small chunk at a time slowly, until I could play them comfortably. Allan Holdsworth was an amazing legato player.
 

Ben Grosskreuz

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2019
70
204
491
Literally legato tips - Use the tips of your fingers. You should be able to play the hail to the king verse lick without using your right hand to mute if you are playing it accurately..try it out and consider it a good measure of your accuracy and if you are using your finger tips properly.
 
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