How To Play Legato | Free Guitar Lesson

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What is Legato Technique?

Legato is the key to super smooth playing and building additional speed. "Legato" is just a combination of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and trills. 

Musical Example:

Steve Vai is one of the best legato players, and one of his finest pieces is “Tender Surrender”:

Featured Lesson

Here is Steve Vai himself talking about how to practice and apply legato technique:


Important takeaways from the lesson are:

  • Steve’s legato exercises (0:40)
  • Be patient, and make sure what you are doing sounds good (3:10)
  • The importance of maintaining a relaxed state to achieve speed and endurance (1:50)
  • Example of using legato in a musical sounding application (4:50)
  • If you are having trouble making the notes ring out, slow it down (6:38)
  • To Steve, legato means flowing, connected, long notes that span multiple strings without picking (7:50)


Legato Workout:

Nate Savage from Guitareo gives you a 7-minute workout to get you up to speed with legato playing in this lesson. 

John Petrucci's Legato Exercises

If you want to flow like John Petrucci from Dream Theatre, here are some exercises from the man himself:

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