Brett on legato style

Guitar Techniques - - LES­SON VIDEO -

Since I first picked up the gui­tar I’ve used ham­merons and pull-offs as op­posed to pick­ing ev­ery note. No-one in­formed me that pick­ing ev­ery note was even pos­si­ble, let alone a recog­nised tech­nique, so it was a shock when I re­alised I’d been do­ing it ‘wrong’ all th­ese years. Then I heard Al­lan Holdsworth and recog­nised the legato sound right away. I re­alised im­me­di­ately that there’s no right or wrong and so stayed with the legato ap­proach. I like the flu­id­ity of the sound and the op­tions it gives you in terms of phras­ing and nav­i­gat­ing the fret­board. Knowing what I know now, of course I’d rec­om­mend that play­ers work on pick­ing as well as legato so they can have as many op­tions as pos­si­ble. But there was no in­ter­net back in my day so un­less I was lucky enough to meet a more ex­pe­ri­enced player I had to learn things by trial and er­ror. I prac­tised legato with and with­out an am­pli­fier so I didn’t rely on heavy sus­tain for the notes to sound clear. This de­vel­oped the fret­ting-hand fa­cil­ity needed to give the notes clar­ity. But of course sus­tain or dis­tor­tion is im­por­tant in this style and it will re­veal any work that needs to be done on mut­ing the other strings to re­move un­wanted noise. Take your nor­mal lines that you’d play with a pick, and try sub­sti­tut­ing ham­mer-ons and pull-offs to see if the sound ap­peals to you. Legato gives the gui­tar a horn-like sound sim­i­lar to a sax­o­phone. Rec­om­mended lis­ten­ing would be Al­lan Holdsworth (the mas­ter!) and Scott Hen­der­son (the other mas­ter!).

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