Put simply legato means ‘smooth and flowing’ and to achieve that sound guitarists utilize a trio of go-to techniques: hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. All three of those techniques work together to produce the legato sound, and all three also have a variety of iterations that guitarists need to have a grip on. This Legato edition of Take 5 from Chris Buono is an accelerated curriculum designed to help you build a solid foundation for this essential technique.
Chris kicks off the course with a quick primer on legato where you’ll drill down on these key techniques and their various iterations. Chris will demonstrate how to combine them to achieve a smooth and seamless legato sound.
”This course will focus on the legato big three: hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. The success of the first two highly depends on your fret hand positioning, which starts with your fret hand thumb placement. Your thumb, as well as your wrist and arm positioning, must be aligned in a way all four fretting fingers feel balanced and strong when fretting. With that in place, you can start to develop strong hammer-on and pull-off techniques.
When it comes to sliding, you'll need more than just good fret hand habits and posture. The name of the game is unwanted string noise. When sliding, you need to have a good secondary muting technique in place so as to only hear the notes you're sliding.
Once you have a solid foundation established, the real work begins, but it won't feel like it at all. Legato is fun and sounds cool even in its simplest forms. In this course, I'll introduce many forms including fundamental approaches to hammer-ons, pull-offs and sliding, grace note phrasing, rolling legato, alternate legato, and legato picking. I'll also bring in related supporting techniques like palm muting, string skipping, hybrid picking, and bending.”
Chris will then guide you through five legato performance studies, from basic to more sophisticated approaches. The five performance pieces cover a range of legato styles inspired by legato mavens Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Jimi Hendrix, and Paul Gilbert.
Level 1: Legato "Level 1’s legato performance study is a gutsy rocker in Am and serves as a perfect downtempo platform for introducing some fundamental legato concepts while having some fun doing it. The vibe hearkens back to my earliest days learning to play via brawny classic rock riffs from everyone from Jethro Tull to Aerosmith to Led Zeppelin. You'll notice the hammer-ons and pull-offs are purposely made up of only two notes and are all individual instances that toggle between 16th and grace note phrasings. There's even a trill thrown in there. On the sliding front, you have simple half and whole step slides and that are also treated to an occasional grace note. Some strategic palm muting in-between legato instances were thrown in for good measure. The melodies are based out of minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. These are roads we all happily travel often – and for good reason. It sounds great and legato makes it sound even better!”
Level 2: Legato "Staying in Am, this legato performance study pays respects to two of my all-time influences in legato playing: Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani. The three key components introduced here are the combination hammer-on/pull-off move, incorporating open strings in your legato outside the open position and the sly ghost hammer-on AKA hammer-on from nowhere. Regarding sliding, you'll play longer distances that travel up and down the neck in true Satriani fashion. One of the keys, if not the ultimate key, to great sounding legato, is a light touch. To play those hammer-on/pull-offs at the top of bars 1-4 and 13-16 it requires a delicate, yet precise hammer and release from the fret hand second finger to get the phrasing and power that those motifs need to sound real.”
Level 3: Legato "The third legato performance study sets you in a 12-bar Cm blues with an alternate turnaround. The legato element is represented by the Hendrix-style comping approach that the great one copped off Curtis Mayfield. This is a unique, yet completely vital legato technique for all guitarists to be aware of and have a handle on. The importance and value of this playing style cannot be overstated. As you play through it, you'll have myriad legato moments involving double stops dressed in hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides in time and phrased as grace notes. The vibe is laid back and the jam track is wide open with more than ample space to make these embellishments stand out.”
Level 4: Legato "Here in the fourth legato performance study, the all-powerful rolling legato technique is, well, rolled out in Bm. Rolling legato is comprised of three and four-note-per-string sequences that play a succession of hammer-ons and pull-offs and/or vice versa. The light touch you've been starting to develop is paramount with this approach. Another legato concept put forth is something I call alternate legato. The element you're alternating with hammer-ons and pull-offs is picking. Combined with carefully placed sliding and ghost hammers you have a wild ride before you! Take note: I can't stress enough how important a light touch is to play legato. That notion becomes even more paramount when starting to playing rolling legato and alternate legato phrases such as the ones in this jam. Long, flowing rolling legato (say that just five times fast) is a mainstay for the guys like Satriani and Van Halen, as well as Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth – two more players I spent countless hours in the shed studying. ”
Level 5: Legato "The concept behind the Take 5 series is to build up to this fifth and final legato performance study, which is purposefully challenging. It goes without saying you have a worthy challenge in the form of string skipped legato licks that flow through a series of E harmonic minor changes. The idea behind the licks were brought to us by the inimitable Paul Gilbert and yours truly. It's no secret Paul is an alternate picking superhuman, but his legato chops are no joke either and this particular approach is one of his specialties. Paul's contribution comes in the form of three-note-per-string string skips on the 6-4-2 and 5-3-1 string sets. To ensure my own stamp was inked, I threw in some legato picking to sweeten the pot. Altogether, this performance piece will push your legato as well as your fingers to new heights. In regards to the latter, there are many instances of three-note-per-string sequences that span 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 steps. If this is new to you, please be careful and play these licks in small doses. Let your hands, wrist and forearms adjust to the stress and build stamina.”
Chris will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way. You’ll get standard notation and tabs for all of the Performance Studies. Plus, Chris includes all of the rhythm tracks for you to work with on your own. In addition, you’ll be able to loop or slow down any of the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace.
Grab your guitar and let’s Take 5 with Chris Buono!
TrueFire’s Take 5 courses feature an accelerated curricular approach to help students get up to speed quickly on a particular style or technique. Each Take 5 course starts with a primer on the particular style or technique and then guides the student through 5 performance studies progressing from basic applications to more sophisticated approaches.