Allen Hinds: Legato Part 3
For his third instalment, Allen shows how slide and pull-off combinations can be developed and transferred between positions, scales and shapes on the fretboard. Jacob Quistgaard guides us through the details.
Focusing on developing a strong legato technique automatically puts you in line for a great list of benefits. Improved tone, more facility for gaining speed and general phrasing fluidity are just a few of these. Since it’s mainly down to the strength and control of your fretting hand, let’s continue exploring various ways of improving our legato technique.
Allen Hinds: “Years ago when I attended music school in Los Angeles, I had the good fortune to sit and play every day with Scott Henderson. This was back before Scott was brandishing a wang bar to the extent that he does now. I noticed he would generate a vibrato like a violinist might. That is, squeezing the note and pulling the string sharp and flat between the frets - towards the bridge and then the headstock, thus creating a vibrato that moves above and below the fundamental pitch (one thing that drives me nuts is hearing a fast vibrato that only pulls the pitch sharp). Anyway, I have found that this approach to vibrato is a great basic exercise and can itself develop strength in your fretting hand.”
Apart from taking your time with this vibrato exercise – making sure your vibrato is suitably slow and Zen-like to start with - another great way to strengthen your fretting hand is to simply give up picking any notes. Just letting your fretting hand sound the notes, trying to always make them come out nice and clear, constitutes a powerful exercise in itself. Again, I must stress that this is best done very slowly and accurately. I would recommend playing through some familiar scales and patterns in this fashion at first, preferably in time at a nice, slow tempo, so you can ‘code in’ great technique from the start - we don’t want to learn bad habits.
The examples we will explore this month are extended legato-based patterns, from which we will get the maximum amount of mileage by transferring them to different positions and points in the scale, and by moving the same geometric shape between positions on the fretboard. All the examples are based on D Mixolydian mode (D E F# G A B C).
However, even though we are using just one scale, it’s important to understand that you can move the licks and patterns between any scale shapes, not necessarily even note for note – or step for step – by simply transferring the general idea and sequence of notes. You might well hear these same ideas played in Dorian mode, using the melodic minor scale or Superlocrian mode. You can get a lot of mileage out of one single lick if you take your time to get creative with it.
It’s also important to bear in mind - as Allen is at pains to point out – that these patterns are just exercises. It’s your job to take the ideas further and develop them through your own practice and effort, thus making them your own in the process.
The licks feel very different depending on which position you play them in, so explore moving them around the fretboard and through lots of different scales. You are bound to find some entirely new angles that could add a whole new dimension to your playing.
Use your imagination. These are only exercises – it’s up to you to use that right side of your brain and get creative. Allen Hinds
Allen Hinds with another tasty Les Paul model