More on Ascending and Descending Legato Runs and Developing "Fret-Hand" Traction

(Image credit: Cindy Moorhead)

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, when I’m soloing, I like to combine a variety of flashy techniques—such as sweep picking, fretboard tapping and legato articulations—that allow me to play very fast lines.

These techniques can be heard in my solos to the songs “Good Girls, Bad Guys” and “Don’t Mess with Ouija Boards” from the Falling in Reverse album The Drug in Me Is You. For this month’s lesson, I’d like to go over portions of those solos.

The “Good Girls, Bad Guys” solo is based primarily on a combination of the D Dorian mode (D E F G A B C) and the D blues scale (D F G Ab A C), but I also throw in the major seventh, C#, which I use as a chromatic passing tone between D and C, on the D string’s 11 fret. Figure 1 illustrates the closing section, which is my favorite part of the solo.

I begin with a quick hammer/pull on the high E string that moves between the 10th, 12th and 13th frets, for which I use my index finger, ring finger and pinkie. As the solo progresses, I stick with these finger/fret assignments across the top three strings. When I get down to the D string on beat three, I move quickly between the ring, middle and index fingers to play the chromatic passages on the D and A strings.

When playing this run, strive to use a legato phrasing approach—hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides—as much as possible in order to achieve a smooth, seamless sound. When I do pick, I use standard alternate (down-up-down-up) picking. It will take some practice to get these kinds of licks to sound fluid and effortless, which is what it’s all about. If you put in the time, though, your fret hand will strengthen and you will develop a good amount of dexterity and “fret-hand traction.”

Figure 2 presents another example of utilizing legato phrasing, but here I begin with a sweep-picked D minor arpeggio across the top three strings before seguing into fast lines performed with hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides. This lick begins in 13th position but quickly moves down to 12th, 11th, 10th, ninth, seventh and fifth positions.

The beginning and ending of my solo in “Don’t Mess with Ouija Boards” also incorporates a lot of fast legato lines, and Figure 3 illustrates the opening lick. This solo is played over a Bb chord and is based on the Bb major scale (Bb C D Eb F G A), and moves very quickly up through the different positions of Bb major via quick finger slides up the G string.

At the end of the solo, I cross over to the B and high E strings and, remaining in 17th position, use a lot of fast hammer-ons and pull-offs. Again, work your way through these lines carefully and slowly at first, gradually building up speed until you can play them at tempo.

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