Cutting Edge Legato Part 2

In part 1 of this miniseries, we looked at scale fragments and cyclic patterns that you play statically with a metronome to build speed. It is essential to have these concepts completely under your fingers before tackling the examples in this lesson, as we are looking at taking repetition fragments like these along the length of strings and through entire scale positions.

In this lesson, we will make use of many of the full roll concepts we described in part 1, which is where we are ascending and descending through strings and positions, rather than just moving in one direction. This rolling sound has a very liquid tone, which is characteristic of the legato technique and gives it a smooth and slippery feel. This style allows you to move in all sorts of directions on the fretboard with a fluid tone in a similar fashion to players like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, all guitar giants that are famous for their command of this technique.

To get the best tone from these examples, you must have a solid command of the picking and fretting-hand muting techniques we discussed in the first lesson of this series. Anyone who is still unfamiliar on how to perform muting techniques should checkout High Intensity Guitar Technique Book One, which has a detailed explanation on how to execute this.

The same as outlined in part 1 of this series, the learning tempo of these exercises needs to be practised by advanced players as well as intermediate players to make sure there are no holes in your technique. At slow speeds, your technique is completely exposed, and it is often harder to execute something flawlessly at a languid tempo than to play fast. At high speed, you can get away with quite a lot, especially with modern advancements in noise gate technology in amps, modelling units and software.

The examples in this lesson first focus on moving between positions using slides, which is a critical aspect to legato technique playing as it allows you to slip and slide around the neck for different registers at high speeds. Make sure you revise the scale diagrams from part 1, as having a good mental image as to where the scale tones live will make these exercises much easier to visualise.


Example 1

The first example in this lesson is a sixteenth note exercise moving along the length of the high E string through different positions of A natural minor. This one is exceedingly difficult to execute, in terms of the sixteenth note pulse, so make sure you bed in the 80bpm learn tempo before moving up the metronome notches. Note the back-slashes in the tab that denote a slide between positions. Legato slides are a critical element in this style.

Example 2

Example 2 is a rolling exercise similar to example 1 but adds an extra sixteenth to give it a quintuplet feel. Odd note grouping like this sound incredibly fluid up to high tempos, and is easier to execute once you get to the business end of the metronome.

Example 3

Example 3 shows a common sextuplet idea used by modern rock and fusion players. You may wish to practice the first beat of this example before trying to play the whole line. It is a scale fragment exercise that we did not cover in part 1 of the series, so build that up to speed first if you need to. You may want to practice it using different finger grouping too. Watch out for transitions between positions, which are performed with slides into each new position with the 4th finger. For a detailed analysis of this, you can watch the accompanying youtube tutorial.

Example 4

Example 4 completes our single string exercises with a septuplet idea. Transitions between positions are executed similarly to those of the previous example, due to the rolling nature of septuplets. This one is a full rolling idea that descends, ascends and descends a position again before moving on.

Example 5

Example 5 looks at how we can take some of the linear approaches across two strings. This one is a sixteenth note part that we first cross the strings, then slide along to the next position and cross again. This gives us a feeling of sliding in and out of positions and allows us to get the full rolling feel but with sixteenth notes.

Example 6

Example 6 is another two-string example that uses quintuplets for a full roll of a position. This is a scale fragment idea we learned in part 1 of the series, but this time we are taking it up through different positions of A natural minor to connect up the fretboard. If you look at this example three beats at a time, you can spot a group of 15 notes that transposes through the scale.

Example 7

The seventh example of this lesson changes things up a gear into using for scale position that spans the width of the fretboard. Example 7 is a sixteenth note exercise where you play straight up A natural minor in 3nps in six-teenth notes. At the top of the scale shape, you slide your first finger along and begin descending the adjacent scale shape. This one is tough to keep the sixteenth note pulse, but if you can remain in the pocket, your playing will sound silky smooth.

Example 8

Example 8 is split up into two versions, one showing the ascending and the other showing the descending portion. This is a sixteenth note example that uses a back and forth approach, so as you cross strings, you repeat individual sections of the scale to give more mileage to a single position. Watch out for your muting on this example, as it is challenging to keep extraneous string noise under control when crossing strings in this manner. You may want to experiment with using fretting hand hammers during string changes. This contributes to a smoother tone but is harder to mute. I like to keep the pick in between a string pair and move my pick in the direction of a new string. Experiment and see what is best for you.

Example 9

Example 9 is a quintuplet fragment from part 1 of the series which we are now playing through an entire scale position. When played in this fashion, it has an ultra-smooth saxophone like quality about it. You must mastered the fragment from the last lesson before you attempt it in this example.

Example 10

Example 10 shows a descending quintuplet idea. This one is exciting as we roll in one direction on the first string and then do the opposite on the second. This theme continues throughout the whole shape and sounds effective at high speeds as it is not a distinct pattern.

Example 11

Example 11 is also written as version A and B, as the ascending and descending versions are exciting variations. We are using sextuplet patterns similar to those we saw in example 3. Sextuplet patterns like these feature in the playing styles of rock players like Paul Gilbert or Richie Kotzen, and fusion players like Shawn Lane and Guthrie Govan.

Example 12

The last example for this lesson is a septuplet idea that blazes straight through an entire scale form in 3nps. Runs like this are used by players like Joe Satriani and Brett Garsed when they want to achieve a hyper rolling legato effect. Take your time on the string changes, and as always watch out for muting issues. When you get this one clean, it sounds fantastic.


Download This Lesson As A FREE PDF E-Booklet With Added Bonuses


The twelve examples in this lesson show you how to take the ideas presented in part 1 of this series to the next level, but there is so much more you can do with them. In the PDF booklet, I give you loads of ideas on how to expand the exercises in this lesson so that you can keep practising and improving for hours on end. The exercises in these routines are all used in my practice, and if you combine them with the ideas outlined in the PDF, they will keep you challenged and improving for years to come.

Additional bonuses in the download include:


  • Mp3 files of the examples played to a metronome at learning and target tempos
  • Guitar pro files of the examples
  • PDF just of the exercises
  • Hints and tips showing you how to expand on the examples
  • Full fretboard charts for Aeolian, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor so you can see precisely how to transpose these concepts to different fretboard areas.  

Download Cutting Edge Legato Part 2 with bonus features and start taking your Legato to the next level now!! It can be downloaded free of charge, but if you've enjoyed the lesson and want to help me find the time to create more lessons like these, you can pay what you want, name a fair price!! 

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