I've been playing guitar for 5/6 years, and next year I'm hoping to play for an awesome Big Band, who are auditioning soon for the guitar spot. I've seen big band guitarists before, and in their, although very limited, solos, they are very fluid and fast. I've played a lot of blues and jazz before, but I'm not very quick or fluid around the guitar. Can anyone recommend how to effectively start learning legato?

3 Answers 3


Legato means playing smoothly and in a flowing way. On guitar this it achieved in several ways'Hammering on, meaning playing a note then snapping another finger to a higher fret for the next note. Sort of opposite to this is pulling off, where you play a note, but have another finger on a lower fret as well. Then the first fretting finger slides a little sideways to pluck the note held on the same string under it.

The two are often combined to make what is classically called an ornament, as in play a note, hammer on then pull off to the original.

Next comes slides - both up and down. Play a note then slide, usually one or two frets, up or down to the next note, on the same string.Often in this sort of music, a guitarist will start a note a fret low, and slide into the correct one, almost teasing the listener, who nearly has time to think 'he's played a wrong note there'.

Legato playing involves bending, both up and down, but big band playing, in my opinion, wouldn't be using a lot of this. However, it is effective, and is another means of moving smoothly from one note to another.

Alternate picking, and certainly not just down picking, will make the playing sound smoother too. And if you can, get a couple of fingers involved along with your pick - or ditch it altogether for a smoother, more variable sound.

Learn to sweep up a chord, or part chord, to add a bit of bite to certain notes.

A lot of these techniques have probably/ should have been covered in 6 years of playing. Maybe also a time to re-think scales - look at, for example, 3-notes-per-string scales, to move about quickly and smoothly.

Playing really fast is not necessarily a prerequisite to playing in a big band. Playing tastefully and melodically are far more important.As well as being part of the rhythm team along with drums and bass - and often keys.


You should go to ultimateguitar.com they've got some really good lessons http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/guitar_techniques/advanced_legato_techniques.html Here's one You've been playing for 5-6 years I think you could start playing advanced lessons Try mixing up between legato and alternate picking for maximum face melting effect You could play licks you already know and add a small legato part in. If you want to play fast practice to a metronome rinse and repeat And remember a slow good meaningful solo is still better than a blistering fast solo Good luck


If you are prepared to pay a small fee Tom Quayle, on of the best modern day legato players, has a course called Modern Legato which is in 3 parts, http://tomquayle.co.uk/lessons.html check out the trailers for these lessons on YouTube. The benefit of these lessons are that they also include Tom's hybrid picking technique which you can choose to either use or just play with a regular picking style.

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