How To Make Your Legato Guitar Technique Clean & Articulate
By Tom Hess
Is your legato technique in need of some serious improvement, but youíre not sure how to go about it? Fortunately, you donít need to search for any special exercises to do this - you must simply use the best practicing methods for developing the technique, just like all the great players do. By doing this, the quality of your legato playing will quickly skyrocket. †
The following are the biggest reasons why you still havenít improved your legato technique, plus how you can start making progress in this area:
Reason One: You Arenít Identifying The Causes Of Your Legato Technique Issues
Most guitar players donít use a problem solving mindset when trying to fix the issues in their legato playing. Instead, they do one of these two things:
1. Incorrectly assume they understand the causes of their legato playing struggles, leading them down the wrong road and making things more difficult when it comes to solving issues with their technique.
2. Believe that they can just learn a bunch of random licks to solve their legato playing issues.
Rather than working to develop your legato technique with additional exercises, try isolating your problems and observing every movement your fingers are making, in order to identify the main cause of the issues. This will show you precisely what needs to be worked on in your technique for making your legato technique (and all the licks that follow from it) sound much better. If you have a hard time figuring out this process on your own, find a guitar teacher who can show you how this is done.
For an example of this, check out this video where I show one of my guitar students how to improve his legato technique:
Reason Two: You Are Playing Notes Too Slowly Whenever You Use Legato Technique
To make your legato technique become much more clean and smooth, you need to understand how to articulate notes using faster movements. Notice: This is not the same as "playing the notes at a higher bpm". You can play longer duration notes while making quick movements for each individual hammer-on/pull-off you play. This will help you to clearly sound each note with great power, without excessive tension (making fast legato playing become totally easy).
To get a better understanding of this concept, think about snapping your fingers to produce a loud sound. If you want to improve the clarity and loudness of the snap, you have to snap your fingers quickly (not only with more force). If you try to snap with only greater force, your fingers will move slowly and the snap will not sound like you want it to. This same idea applies to your legato guitar playing. Check out the video I discussed earlier to see this ideas explained on guitar.
Reason Three: Your Hands Are Full Of Tension While Playing Legato
Tons of guitar players use much more power than necessary while playing their legato licks. This effectively makes it impossible to play legato fast, with any kind of accuracy. Fix this problem by going through this easy process for finding the appropriate amount of tension needed to play guitar:
1. Start by playing a legato lick with the normal amount of tension you would use.
2. Use less and less tension until you are using so little tension that the notes of the lick become hard to sustain.
3. Add a very small level of tension back into your playing (just enough to barely sound the note Ė no more).
Now that you understand the best ways to improve your legato technique, see if you are on track towards reaching your guitar playing goals. See what you need to work on now by taking this lead guitar playing test.