Legato guitar licks

Legato Guitar Licks And More Sweep Picking Ideas

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Legato Guitar Licks To Strengthen Your Left Hand

Legato guitar licks mixed with other guitar techniques such as alternate picking and sweep picking as covered in last week's guitar lick videos, will give you a broad range of sounds from which you can use when improvising.

The licks played in this week's batch of videos will work great in blues, or many other styles of music. You might find the stretchier legato guitar licks a challenge as you need good hand strength to play these well. Playing legato ideas with big hand stretches often produces phrases with notes that cannot be heard.

Distortion or overdrive will help when playing legato licks on guitar, although you should still be able to play them using a clean guitar tone. Good legato technique with a clean guitar tone will make playing with a dirty sound easy.

What Is The Meaning Of Legato?

Legato means to play notes smoothly and connected, with no gaps between the notes. Legato phrases can be played using slurring techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides.

Music is a language and I like to think of picked notes as consonants and playing legato as vowels. Consonants such as the letters T, D, K, etc., have a strong attack and sound punchy. Vowel sounds such as A, E, I, O and U are softer sounds and I relate these to legato playing in my hand. Some languages are softer and some languages are harder sounding. How you mix picked notes and legato technique on guitar helps to create your own unique sound and individual voice.

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A7 Legato Blues Lick

This lick uses a mix of alternate picking and legato techniques to produce a musically interesting result. Part of the lick uses traditional guitar scale fingering, although the lick deviates into slightly unconventional fingering in places.

You certainly need a strong left hand so that all notes can be heard. As mentioned previously, distortion or overdrive will help the hammer-ons and pull-offs to be heard clearly, but this is no excuse for them to be heard using a clean guitar tone too.

Pentatonic Legato Lick

This legato lick includes some larger left-hand stretches to increase the difficulty level. A few slides are also included to extend the idea and use more of the guitar fingerboard.

This lick is played over a very happy sounding major chord backing, although it will also work well in a blues. Experiment with this lick and find major chord progressions over which you can use this lick.

A7 Sweep Picking Circular Lick

If picked notes produce a sound with a strong attack and legato guitar playing produces a softer sound, sweep picking sits somewhere in the middle.

I first began using the sweep picking technique through necessity. When transcribing saxophone lines many years ago (I am a huge Charlie Parker fan), I found it difficult to accurately produce the sound of some of the faster phrases. Playing legato was too soft and alternate picking made it impossible to play some of the fast phrases and the phrasing did not sound anything like the fluid sound of the saxophone. Sweep picking is a happy medium as it produces a fluid sound, but still has a good attack and can be dynamically controlled.

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