Legato Playing – Step by Step Technique Part III

In this last installment on legato technique we will focus on specific applications, riffs if you will, and especially the horizontal approach to playing them. I recommend the habitual continuation of the chops-establishing exercises of the first two units, while at the same time focussing more and more on making music with this approach of playing and on incorporating it in your own accomplishments and ways of playing so far.

Let’s get back to Riff 1, which, up until now, you have woodshedded over the full range of the fretboard in individual positions. Here, we will focus on two string at a time while moving up and down the neck in a horizontal fashion.

Example 1

Notice how we are just using strings 1 and 2, going up and all the way down again! Try the same for strings 2 + 3:

Example 2

After you have mastered those two riff applications, it will be easy to do the same for the remaining four string combinations. And REMEMBER: When you feel your muscles of the fretting hand/arm tighten up, take a break and start doing this exercise at half the tempo; this will enable you to focus on relaxing and playing with as little effort as possible.

In unit 2 we started on one position for Riff 2. Try the next as follows:

Example 3

Just as before with Riff 1, figure out all positions of the neck – eventually in all keys. This time however, you won’t find all these written out, because you should be able to apply the sequence of Riff 2 to the same scale shapes that we have used for Riff 1. Have fun and take your time.

To proliferate our skills on Riff 2, let’s complete the horizontal way of playing here as well – if you haven’t already:

Example 4

Again, work your way through all combinations of two strings, one at a time!

Finally, it is up to you to work on integrating these concepts in your own playing. Below you will find a comprehensive study that combines those two riffs; however, that is just another stepping stone towards taking this style of playing to the next level. Play along with music as much as you can and focus on playing these lines! After some time of concentrated playing, you will need less and less of premeditated focus while approaching the very essence of effortless playing.

Example 5