Magnatone Giveawya

August Issue
more... IntermediateLessonsNovember 2009

Legato Phrasing: Liquid Lead Lines


from  DVD Shred at a Glance
(00696020)
Picking every single note of every speedy passage—especially a long one—can lead to what’s best described as “typewriter” phrasing. To remedy this, guitarists can use legato techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides to assume part of the work done by the picking hand, with the added benefit of making some phrases faster than we could alternate-pick them.

That being said, a common pitfall among guitarists using legato techniques in fast-paced lines is to rush through the legato parts simply because it’s a little easier to execute. So as you play through the exercises and sequences in this section, try to evenly space all notes, focusing on the click of the metronome and the tap of your foot.

The first example is a rock lick based on the A Dorian mode. Here, focus on keeping steady time at the spot where a hammer-on is followed by two consecutive pull-offs in beats 2 and 3. Again, practice slowly and steadily, and keep your foot tapping with the metronome.


This next lick is one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite moves, where he alternates hammer-ons and picked notes, from string to string. Take note here of the fingering pattern, also one of Van Halen’s creations, which has come to be known as the “EVH” scale. Because of its harmonic ambiguity, it’s not often used in the context of melodic contour but rather as a vehicle for fast passages connecting point A to point B within a solo.

The alternation of picked and legato triplet groupings will really test your ability to stay in tempo. Start slowly enough that you don’t rush the legato portions.


To further round out your speed-building regimen, you can go back and practice all of the scales and sequences you’ve learned, using hammer-ons and pull-offs exclusively, picking only when a string comes into play for the first time for maximum efficiency.

For example, here’s how the A minor pentatonic “groups of three” sequence sounds using this approach