Advanced Legato Techniques Pt.1

In this lesson we will take a look at a few legato techniques aimed at the more experienced player. We will practice both 2 finger and 3 finger legato patterns.

After learning the initial pattern we will then take it up and down the fretboard and across the strings.

The number one thing to concentrate on when doing purely legato playing is your fret hand positioning. You will notice in the video lesson how my thumb is placed in about the middle of the back of the neck which makes my fingers point straight up to the ceiling.

Take your time and just practice the smaller pattern exercises first before tackling the technique of moving them across strings and up and down the fingerboard.

Don't forget to download the PDF TAB download for this lesson.

Advanced Legato Techniques Lesson Pt.1 PDF

Try not to let your fret hand get to tight, if you feel a little bit of pain stop and shake you hand out a little or maybe take a short break. You will notice that when you come back to the guitar you will feel stronger and looser.

And last but not least... HAVE FUN!!

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Advanced Legato Techniques Pt.1


  1. Peter on April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Man I love Joe Satrianni and I liked this lesson very much!!!What about making a lesson about his style?It would be awesome.


  2. John Magee on October 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Love what u r doing! Your legato lessons r clear, inspiring and informative. Bravo!

    • Victor Sanchez on April 18, 2019 at 2:49 am

      I have been playing over 45 years, But I never learned tapping and legato technique. Your lessons are just what I needed to begin learning this style. Thank you for explaining how it works. Awesome lessons.

  3. Dima on July 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    hey man, i want to know is thunderstruck by ac/dc good for legato?

    • Carl Brown on July 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I do know that a lot of people feel Angus played “Thunderstroke” legato but in reality he is picking it.

      However, it would still make for a great legato workout if you chose to practice it that way as well as the original picked way. 🙂


  4. Robert Bowles on April 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    You have been a literal “Life Saver” for my guitar playing!
    I use 09-42 strings. Is it going to help my legato playing to use a higher gauge?
    Have a great day!

    • Carl Brown on April 3, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Hey Robert! The lighter the string gauge the easier it will be to do all of this legato work.

      If you go to a heavier gauge your string tension will increase therefore requiring more strength to perform the hammer-ons and pull-offs. 🙂


      • Sean Logan on May 21, 2016 at 8:50 am


        Possibly related to string gauge, or just technique. I find when I’m on the high E, when I’m flicking that sometimes I flick the string off the edge of the fretboard. I don’ t feel like I’m flicking especially hard, but it still happens. Like on the 12-8-10 section should I be applying pressure with my index slightly upward to counter my flicking? Or, would a higher tension help this? I’m using 9s.


        • Carl Brown on May 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

          Hey Sean, this is a common problem and from my experience usually has more to do with the guitar than the player.

          I had the same issue with my strat after getting some fret work done. I then shifted the neck angle slightly to give the high E string more room. However, that decreased the amount of room the low E string had so it caused the same issue however on the low E string string side this time.

          The final solution came from when I was reading about how Neal Schon had his signature Les Paul setup. He had them create a nut that had a slightly shorter distance between the strings which provided a lot more room below the high E string and above the low E string. I had a new nut made for my strat with a more narrow string spacing and that finally solved the problem.

          I suggest talking to a good repair guy that you trust to get the problem solved. Some guitars simply have more narrow fingerboards than others, and that should be compensated for with a more narrow string spacing. You should be able to use any gauge strings you want. 🙂

          Hope this helps!

          • Sean Logan on May 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

            Thanks Carl. The guitar is a JP Majesty, so the neck is relatively narrow. I have the same problem with a 7 string. I found I had less of a problem with a guitar I keep upstairs just for finger exercises while watching tv (yeah, I have more guitars than talent…). I have 10s on that one. I tried putting 10s on the Majesty yesterday and do feel like it helped a little. I think the 9s are maybe just too floppy for that guitar. I might meet in the middle and use 9s with a 10 on the high E,

            Another legato problem…when doing strict legato, like a 5-7-8 on the B to a 5-7-8-7-5 on the E, back to the B for 8-7-5-7-8, etc, the 5 on the E is kinda dead when coming from the B. At first I though my pinky was touching it, and I do think that’s part of it sometimes. I don’t feel like I’m getting the same strength in the hammer as my index isn’t moving very far to come down on the 5E. I also try to touch the B with the tip of my index when hitting that 5E to mute. Should I do that, or just try to kill it with my palm? When I do that circle at speed (relatively) I get noise from the B. And doing it quickly, it’s hard to kill it with my palm as I’m coming right back to it, then off, then back, then off. Hopefully that makes sense, I probably need to do a video…

            Back to my pinky though, my finger just isn’t perpendicular to the fretboard. Is that something I need to work towards? It has a bit of tilt, and I know when I’m hitting the 8B that I’m also touching the E with it sometimes. I try to make sure it’s cleared before hitting the 5E, I’m just wondering if I need to try to get more towards a 90 degree angle with everything except the index.

            Sorry for the long post…thanks for your help!

          • Carl Brown on May 24, 2016 at 11:58 am

            Hey Sean, the muting of the B string with the tip of your index finger when you are playing the high E string is the proper technique. Try to make it seem like you are just barely touching the bottom of the string. You don’t really want to use your palm to mute an adjacent string. It isn’t accurate enough.

            The palm’s job is going to be to mute strings 3-6, but the index finger should always mute the string directly above when playing scale licks, and of course, any strings below the string you are playing if you move to lower strings.

            As for the pinky position, yeah I would need to see a video to know how to help. Would be happy to take a look though. 🙂

  5. John_G on October 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Hi Carl,

    I’ve been following your lessons with great enthusiasm and, I should say … a lot of success! So, many thanks for all that you offer here. Your instructions are, by far, the clearest. I wish to improve my legato technique. My understanding is that there has to be an “anchoring” finger on each string (unless it’s the open note). I can play legato OK on one single string, but I can’t quite figure out how best to “anchor” when I change strings. For example, say I do pull offs on frets 6-5-3 on the high E string, then want to do another set of pull offs on frets 6-5-3 on the B string. Do I simultaneously move my pinky (6th fret) and index finger (3rd fret) to the B string? Or, do you usually anchor at a slightly later time (but very fast)? Thanks.


    • Carl Brown on October 9, 2019 at 8:08 am

      Hey John, it usually involves moving the index finger over to the next string while you are playing the higher notes. You will be surprised how fast you can get your index finger to the adjacent string. It will be pretty much second nature before you know it. So as soon as the 6 comes down on the B string, you quickly shift your index finger over to the B string. 🙂

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