One of the earliest legato patterns I ever learned is still one that I use quite often. Not only that, it’s one of the first patterns I give to my students in order to build their own legato technique.
This is a five-note pattern that shifts in a linear direction using slides. Once you’ve picked the first note to set the ball rolling, everything else is down to your fingers! As you will see in the accompanying tab and video, the pattern ascends by two scale degrees and then returns to the starting note, giving you five notes. Once this is done, you use your index finger to slide to the next scale position.
This example concentrates on following the scalar pattern in a descending direction. But know that you can move in an ascending direction too. The index finger is the leading finger in this pattern and it will always be responsible for the direction shift.
In terms of timing, you can place this over the beat as if you were playing sixteenth note triplets, but instead of six notes you’re only playing five. Due to fewer notes being involved, you can work this lick up to even higher speeds than your limit when playing triplets. Cool or what?
The reason this lick is so effective at building legato technique is that it forces you to keep the momentum of the notes going without losing sustain or causing a break in sound. By making your index finger slide to an adjacent fret you’re also teaching yourself sideways mobility, which is essential in breaking out of box positions. Not only that, but this pattern can also join on to other legato patterns, which I will show you in my next article. But for now, grab your guitar and get started on this super versatile five note lick!
Ben Higgins started playing guitar at age 10. He’s released five solo albums and continues to teach guitarists from around the world. In 2012, he released the YouTube video “30 Shredders in One Solo,” in which he emulated the style of 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists. He topped this in 2017 with “101 Shredders in One Solo.” In 2016, Ben developed his “Badass…” online courses, which are aimed at improving people’s technique in picking, sweeping and hand synchronization.