Why Not Do Both? (Legato Pt.2 and more...)
(30 Apr 03)
and welcome to "Why Not Do Both? / Legato Part II". As the second half of the title might suggest, legato is not the only thing I wanna talk about this time. Also, it's not the regular "Part II", where I just add some more difficult licks, building on the first part.
Instead, I want to show you a different approach to the legato-technique, especially hammer-on's. As you might know by now, I used to study with Brett Garsed at the GIT. Brett really is a master of the legato-technique... it's amazing what kind of stuff he comes up with.
One of the things I always liked about his legato-playing is that it's very smooth and fluid. Sometimes, it's pretty much impossible to figure out which note is picked and which is hammered on, or when he is going from one string to another. It's almost like a piano, a long flow of notes, not sounding choppy at all.
And this is where Brett's hammer-on-technique enters the equation. Before I get into details, I want to point something out: This article is not supposed to tell you to change anything about your technique. I rather try to make some suggestions, show you stuff you can check out. If you feel like this stuff does not work for you at all, that's perfectly fine.
If you already have a decent amount of playing technique, and if you're happy with your technique and the sounds you can get with it, this might not be of interest for you. But maybe you wanna check out the stuff I am gonna show you next.
OK. Let's look at our "regular" legato-style, the techniques most of us are familiar with:
Bar 1: You have the hammer-on, where you hammer one of your l.h. fingers onto the fretboard to sound a note.
Bar 2: And you have the pull-off, where you yank a finger away from the string, usually slightly off to the side, to sound another note (the next one you're either fretting with another finger, or an open string)
For ascending on one string, we usually use hammer-on's, and pull off's when we go down again, right? That's the good ol' Van Halen / Page-style hammer on / pull off-stuff we usually use (especially rock-players)
Now, that works fine. It can be used for high speeds, if done right it really gets a good tone out of the string (notes loud enough). At first we usually use too much strength, especially for the pull-offs, really yanking the string when doing a pull-off. The more we use it, the more we play, the lighter our touch gets, and after a while, we use less strength... if you're lucky, it's just the right amount of strength you need to make the notes ring, without using TOO MUCH strength.
Now, when I first listened to guys like Brett Garsed, I was absolutely amazed by his smooth legato-tone. When he was doing one of his long legato-runs over several strings, it was really hard to tell when he actually skipped from one string to the next. It's was a nice sound, very "fluid". Back then I thought it was just a matter of the gear, tone and the fact that Brett has been playing for so long.
(Turn the page...)