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August Issue
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Style Guide: Left-Hand Techniques

Style Guide: Left-Hand Techniques

Legato Playing

Legato playing combines hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a more connected, smoother sound. Since you’re picking less often than usual, legato playing is all in your left hand. A great legato player is Joe Satriani. Check out this clip:

Check out the amazing legato run starting at 1:38. Watch it a few times and pay attention to each hand. His right hand isn’t doing much other than striking the string occasionally to add some accents. The real magic is in the left hand. He’s hammering-on and pulling-off strongly enough that he doesn’t really need to pick at all. Granted, having Joe’s perfect chops helps, as does rich sustaining distortion, but the net effect is a smooth, linear line that’s not broken up by harsh pick attacks. It’s an amazing sound, and it’s all in the left hand.

Fig. 13 is one of my favorite show off-licks, because it sounds more difficult than it is. All I’m doing is playing a descending pentatonic scale in a sequence of three-note groupings. I only pick every third note, and that allows me to speed up the left hand faster than I normally would be able to if I had to pick every single note.

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