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  1. #1

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    I've been trying to develop my legato technique for about six months using various lessons from the internet. I feel like I'm not improving. Surely I need to practice more and have more patience, but in your experience what exercises and lessons worked for you when learning and developing your legato technique?

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  3. #2

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    You feel like you're not improving, do you KNOW that you're not improving? Are you recording yourself, or keeping a log of metronome markings? And who's lessons are you studying? Clearly, the best jazz legato technique is Tim Miller's, and his lessons are very well-organized and well-presented.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Mal View Post
    I've been trying to develop my legato technique for about six months using various lessons from the internet. I feel like I'm not improving. Surely I need to practice more and have more patience, but in your experience what exercises and lessons worked for you when learning and developing your legato technique?
    I guess for me the best use of legato is in combining it with picking, so if you want to use it like that you also need to keep that in mind when practicing. I also think that a lot of YouTube and internet stuff is really geared towards other genres (with thinner strings, more gain etc) and for me that does not really work that well in jazz so I made other exercises that fit my playing a bit better.

    Try stuff with scales combining picking and legato, and make sure to also work on coming up with lines that sound well when you play them using legato technique.

    Jens
    jenslarsen.nl --- My YouTube Channel with lessons and live videos--- YT Lesson Facebook page --- Træben album: Storm on itunes

    I endorse Ibanez guitars, John Daw Custom picks and QSC monitors

  5. #4

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    Well I could be THAT GUY and say legato is not a technique, it is a musical effect produced by a mixture of techniques (including slurring, economy picking etc) but I presume you are talking about hammer ons and pull offs?

    If you play with every note picked, you still need to achieve legato. In order to achieve this, you need speed in the transition between two notes. If you are picking, you need to synchronise those movements very exactly - and they need to happen as fast as possible, regardless of tempo. Speed of note change is all important.

    The same is true of slurring. In the case of HO, POs and slides, speed is much more important than strength - your playing can be very light.

    In my own playing I have gone in the past three or four months from being a heavy picker to being what I would say 'half legato' player ala Mike Moreno - slurs used from upbeats onto the beat where this is practical. Probably I only slur 25%-30% of my notes, but it kind of sands some of the edges off and makes the guitar sound a little more hornlike.

    I like it. I think Wes MUST have used something like this approach in his playing.

    I see legato as a spectrum - ranging from full touch style guitar through to heavy pick styles like Al Di Meola. For me, the most satisfactory results come from somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and I think my ears prefer players that play this way.

    Anyway, in terms of working on slurs, I found Tim Miller's advice helpful, some of which I have regurgitated here. I am not a Holdsworthian player, but he certainly is, and his video lessons are good - have you watched them?

    Also JensL has this stuff together - certainly would defer to his advice on the matter.

  6. #5

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    BTW - if you have in fact mastered the technique, and the problems are musical, my advice would be listen to and repeat phrases from records you like by ear. Get away from scales and patterns.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by JensL View Post
    I also think that a lot of YouTube and internet stuff is really geared towards other genres (with thinner strings, more gain etc)


    Jens
    Yep, plus flat neck radius, low action, and short scale. I'm sure that even Holdsworth would struggle with some of his crazier stretches on a regular ol' Strat.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein View Post
    Yep, plus flat neck radius, low action, and short scale. I'm sure that even Holdsworth would struggle with some of his crazier stretches on a regular ol' Strat.
    Didn't he play a strat for a bit back in the late 70s?

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Didn't he play a strat for a bit back in the late 70s?
    First times I saw him (with Soft Machine and then Tony Williams), he was playing an SG Custom (the 3-pup, off-white model).

  10. #9

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    Can we please define "legato" here - I'm a bit puzzled because I've learned two definitions (regarding playing guitar):

    1. Pick once - then either hammer-on, pull-off or slide into the next note...

    2. Hold the picked note as long as possible before you pick the next one...

    Anyone?

    Thanks
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  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOMMO View Post
    Can we please define "legato" here - I'm a bit puzzled because I've learned two definitions (regarding playing guitar):

    1. Pick once - then either hammer-on, pull-off or slide into the next note...

    2. Hold the picked note as long as possible before you pick the next one...

    Anyone?

    Thanks
    I prefer the term ligado, from classical guitar, in reference to left hand slurs, guitar specific.

    Legato - for the musical effect, as used by all instrumentalists.

    Unfortunately, no-one else use this!

  12. #11

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    There's a good legato exercise in Pumping Nylon that i use to warm up. I don't have the book, but it's somewhere in the beginning.

  13. #12
    Tim Miller has a good short video about legato technique that might be worth watching.


  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I prefer the term ligado, from classical guitar, in reference to left hand slurs, guitar specific.

    Legato - for the musical effect, as used by all instrumentalists.

    Unfortunately, no-one else use this!
    I think that train left a million heavy metal tutorials ago!

    I actually do have a lesson on my channel on legato and how I use and practice it with Jazz in mind.

    Here it is. It is a bit long, so sorry about that...



    Jens
    jenslarsen.nl --- My YouTube Channel with lessons and live videos--- YT Lesson Facebook page --- Træben album: Storm on itunes

    I endorse Ibanez guitars, John Daw Custom picks and QSC monitors

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOMMO View Post
    Can we please define "legato" here - I'm a bit puzzled because I've learned two definitions (regarding playing guitar):

    1. Pick once - then either hammer-on, pull-off or slide into the next note...

    2. Hold the picked note as long as possible before you pick the next one...

    Anyone?

    Thanks
    Did a short research (wikipedia is your friend once again) and found that the term "tenuto" is the one that means to hold a note for its full value before playing the next one
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    You feel like you're not improving, do you KNOW that you're not improving? Are you recording yourself, or keeping a log of metronome markings? And who's lessons are you studying? Clearly, the best jazz legato technique is Tim Miller's, and his lessons are very well-organized and well-presented.
    I've been keeping a log of my practicing. I haven't been able to perform these exercises at faster tempos or for longer periods of time. I'm using various lessons from around the internet (justinguitar.com;guitarlessons365.com; etc.) I can post links to exactly what I've been doing if you want. I'll be sure to check out Tim Miller.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by JensL View Post
    I guess for me the best use of legato is in combining it with picking, so if you want to use it like that you also need to keep that in mind when practicing. I also think that a lot of YouTube and internet stuff is really geared towards other genres (with thinner strings, more gain etc) and for me that does not really work that well in jazz so I made other exercises that fit my playing a bit better.

    Try stuff with scales combining picking and legato, and make sure to also work on coming up with lines that sound well when you play them using legato technique.

    Jens
    Thanks. Recently I've been practicing hammer-ons and pull-offs with trills and using hammer-ons and pull-offs with the three note per string major scale and the Ionian mode.

  18. #17

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    Play your scales with legato instead of picking.

    Do this for a few minutes every day.
    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
    “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    There's a good legato exercise in Pumping Nylon that i use to warm up. I don't have the book, but it's somewhere in the beginning.
    Yes, I have that book and I've been practicing those exercises.

  20. #19

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    Ha! In 90 seconds Tim Miller has already identified one of my problems. My fingers, particularly my ring and pinky fingers, have trouble staying close to the fretboard. I already know my fingers should be close to the fretboard and I've been trying to solve this problem by practicing scales very slowly (40-50 bpm) while staring at my left hand and trying to keep my fingers as close to the fretboard as possible and use as little movement as possible. Justin Sandercoe at Justinguitar.com taught me that months ago...I'll be keeping an ear out for intonation problems too. After that Tim Miller video I'm going to play each mode very slowly with a metronome and the three note per string major scale.

  21. #20

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    Thank you Jens. That's some useful info. I hadn't thought of hammering on and pulling off in between certain notes instead of simply picking the first note on each string and hammering on and pulling off every other note.

    Also, I remembering seeing you take a guest solo in one of Chris Zoupa's videos a long time ago. You're a really talented player.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler View Post
    Play your scales with legato instead of picking.

    Do this for a few minutes every day.
    I actually have been doing that but definitely not anywhere nearly enough. I usually can play scales with hammer-ons and pull-offs for legato practice for only one minute at a time.

  23. #22

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    Also check out Mike Moreno's video on articulation on musicmasterclass.com

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Mal View Post
    Thank you Jens. That's some useful info. I hadn't thought of hammering on and pulling off in between certain notes instead of simply picking the first note on each string and hammering on and pulling off every other note.

    Also, I remembering seeing you take a guest solo in one of Chris Zoupa's videos a long time ago. You're a really talented player.
    You're welcome! Yes I played a guest solo on Chris' EP. I guess that was my debut as a Metal guitarist

    Jens
    jenslarsen.nl --- My YouTube Channel with lessons and live videos--- YT Lesson Facebook page --- Træben album: Storm on itunes

    I endorse Ibanez guitars, John Daw Custom picks and QSC monitors

  25. #24

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    That Tim Miller video is good. He mentioned on of my weaknesses. I'm having a lot of trouble keeping my fingers close to the fretboard, especially my ring and pinky fingers. Notes played by my pinky are sometimes inaudible. I'm playing half notes to 40 bpm right now and it's almost too slow. My volume isn't even at all.

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Mal View Post
    I've been trying to develop my legato technique for about six months using various lessons from the internet. I feel like I'm not improving. Surely I need to practice more and have more patience, but in your experience what exercises and lessons worked for you when learning and developing your legato technique?
    I'm using a legato workout that focuses on helping even the most hardcore alternate pickers. I've learned legato chops with ease which endowed my fret hand with new-found strength. To add some fluidity to your single-note lines, you can try some legato workout, probably, a one-hour legato workout that will gravitate you comfortably.

    Having an excellent strength-training exercises for your fret hand is one of the best ways to develop the technique.

  27. #26

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    I've found that working on Tim's ideas on the nylon-string guitar really improves the technique overall.

  28. #27

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    Jens has a ton of great lessons on youtube. I just subscribed to his channel.

    I don't see the point of TM talking about sustain when he's using OD...

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    Jens has a ton of great lessons on youtube. I just subscribed to his channel.

    I don't see the point of TM talking about sustain when he's using OD...
    Thank you!

    Jens
    jenslarsen.nl --- My YouTube Channel with lessons and live videos--- YT Lesson Facebook page --- Træben album: Storm on itunes

    I endorse Ibanez guitars, John Daw Custom picks and QSC monitors

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Didn't he play a strat for a bit back in the late 70s?
    Yes. An acoustic too.



    Last edited by Fidelcaster; 12-06-2016 at 06:59 PM.

  31. #30

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    And another approach :

    Last edited by Robertkoa; 02-02-2018 at 10:01 AM.

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    And another approach :

    You mean : just buy more "legato " effects? :-)

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    You mean : just buy more "legato " effects? :-)

    Yes .And use a very light picking (non ) attack.




    But definitely not taking anything away from Rosenwinkel - he could do it all on an Acoustic Guitar with no effects and still be a brilliant, creative Musician/ Guitarist.

    A lot of what he does with his 'attack remover pedal ' - I do with pick control...







    I can see why many people on this Forum like him so much....he's very free of Guitar Clichès so it's kind of mind expanding to listen to him as well as nice sounding and feeling.

    So the idea that you can be Legato without the Holdsworth Gain too...and that sure ..if you can get an effect that will do that for you and spend more time writing, playing , recording etc. why not ?

    It's possible to do legato with very shallow picking and the pickups far from the strings ...delay and reverb really help also you can probably hear similarities from Holdsworth's Tone and Gilmour, and Eric Johnson and Tim Miller ...EJ picks a lot of notes and still sounds ' legato' when he wants.
    I like Tim Miller's stuff that I have heard ....

    I imagine both Holdsworth and EJ and other Rockers pioneered that stuff long ago.

    EXACT perfect Definition of ' legato ' -
    Don't know ...haha.

    But I take a broader view ..

    Here's an example of something that inspired me to woodshed for a long long time to get very close to.. or maybe beyond in some ways ...it's not the speed ( that's relatively easy ) - it's the effortlessness of the phrases being ghost notes but clearly and softly articulated :

    It's Alto Sax - go to 2:10 seconds :

    Last edited by Robertkoa; 05-13-2018 at 12:02 PM.

  34. #33
    I'm new here, but it seems interesting and I hope you don't mind my intervention. I think every technique should be second to the musical objective you have in that moment. So the melody you want to play, where you wanna go and the sound you want to achieve. Different techiniques or picking styles give out different sounds. So instead of focusing on exercises you find on the internet I would suggest you to work on real solos by players who are masters in the legato technique and pay a lot of attention in trying to reproduce the exact sound or vibe of the phrasing. Try different fingerings, but always focusing on the sound and on reproducing the melody. I found this works at least with me more than just play a bunch of scales using hammer on and pull offs. Cheers


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  35. #34
    I can send you a couple of mike Moreno's solos I transcribed if you're interested. Notation and tab, if can be of any help, it was a good study for me.


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  36. #35

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    [QUOTE=TOMMO;717398]Can we please define "legato" here - I'm a bit puzzled because I've learned two definitions (regarding playing guitar):


    Good Point .

    What many or MOST Electric Guitarists think of as
    "Legato" is a whole set of *Techniques and
    usually EFX ( Delay , Compression or Tube Amp Compression or Modeling Tube Clipping , and other Electronic Enhancement...)

    Another example - you can enhance this further with pickups far down from strings
    pick lightly not much gain needed...delay etc.
    Listen to the Intro- it's about 90% of the way to Legato already.

    Not Rocket Science Technique - beautiful creative Art - yes- innovative in 60's yes.

    Don't let the ' Internet' lead you into an exhaustive long Road to this unless you WANT a long Road is my point .





    And the Techniques that Electric Players and Classical , Flamenco Players have used to minimize the Attack at the beginning of the Notes.

    And previously Composers/Conductors obviously notate this on Music Scores.

    So a Violin naturally with Bowing tends to be more ' legato ' ( smooth flowing less attack - more like one continuous Note but changing Pitch ).

    But even Violins have a range of Legato / Staccato with Bowing Techniques-
    BUT to attack like a Guitar - String Players use Pizzicato plucking the Strings.

    So Guitar regarding Legato/ Staccato is kind of opposite of Violin- we Guitarists are Naturally Staccato and need to lighten the attack by slurring, hammering, tapping, sliding up to next note ( or down ) on same string for 'legato.'

    Also - on Electric Guitar and using some modern pick materials ( like Gator Grip Tortex, and Delrin etc. not necessarily light gauge) just picking really softly can get close to 'legato' with very smooth attack.

    Another more narrow 'Definition ' of Legato is the Style in the Tim Miller Video ( very good )
    which is a complete Guitar ' Style' with tone and EFX ...
    Some Guitarists lean very strongly toward
    specializing in' Legato' .

    Allan Holdsworth etc.

    Some can go both ways ..
    Jon Kriesburg -a good example of nearly Legato with just smooth light picking sometimes ( picking dynamics).

    Eric Johnson -

    Eddie Van Halen - uses a lot of Legato Techniques but has a crisp picking attack when he wants it .
    Even Pat Metheny was a big fan of EVH and used to see him live.

    MY particular version of ' legato' is picking so softly that it sounds almost like tapping or hammering or ghost notes on an Alto Sax ...I really go to a barely touching the strings depth - the pick touches the strings but rarely breaks the plane below them when you look down .....
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 03-21-2018 at 04:30 PM.

  37. #36

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    I honestly believe that the history of jazz guitar can be understood as a gradual shift towards lighter picking and more legato.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I honestly believe that the history of jazz guitar can be understood as a gradual shift towards lighter picking and more legato.
    You know much more about the Players but yes ...I can see that...the younger Guys in their 30's and 40's
    are generally lighter ...more fluid and free and generally more technically advanced although there are exceptions.

    Johnny Smith was very modern for his time and very advanced technically and harmonically ..he could sound like a Classic Jazzer or a l more toward fluid legato playing.
    Must have really freaked out other Guitarists back then.



    I heard Mike Moreno mentioned and checked him out and really like his fingerstyle playing and Writing he has good picking Articulation too - but generally they are going slightly more Legato ...these younger Jazzmasters...just as you say.Kind of Alto Sax Influence and maybe Metheny influence too ?
    When they Compose they mix it up a lot more too - bad for me ...lol.

    When you Fingerstyle Rhythmically over Extended Voicings...I do that a lot...I don't think it's Jazz or care
    but some Jazz Guys are doing it now too like Moreno .

    Peter Bernstein picks more old school with firm Attack kind of like a crisper Martino -and I was surprised to hear him playing on one Vid with a really nice subtle but singing Vibrato...for another example. I thought it sounded great too .
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 05-12-2018 at 05:53 PM.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    You know much more about the Players but yes ...I can see that...the younger Guys in their 30's and 40's
    are generally lighter ...more fluid and free and generally more technically advanced although there are exceptions.



    I heard Mike Moreno mentioned and checked him out and really like his fingerstyle playing and Writing he has good picking Articulation too - but generally they are going slightly more Legato ...these younger Jazzmasters...just as you say.Kind of Alto Sax Influence and maybe Metheny influence too ?
    When they Compose they mix it up a lot more too - bad for me ...lol.

    When you Fingerstyle Rhythmically over Extended Voicings...I do that a lot...I don't think it's Jazz or care
    but some Jazz Guys are doing it now too like Moreno .

    Peter Bernstein picks more old school with firm Attack kind of like a crisper Martino -and I was surprised to hear him playing on one Vid with a really nice subtle but singing Vibrato...for another example. I thought it sounded great too .
    I'm going back further, the past 100 years or so. Advances in technology.

  40. #39

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    I was thinking of technical advances ...

    We are 40 years beyond the Fusion Guys ..30 years beyond the 80s Rockers and Shredders and what most call ' Legato' Style ( perhaps erroneously ) has evolved from that and the younger Jazzers are embracing some of that calming it down somewhat and taking it to new places.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 05-12-2018 at 05:56 PM.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    I was thinking of technical advances ...

    We are 40 years beyond the Fusion Guys ..30 years beyond the 80s Rockers and Shredders and what most call ' Legato' Style ( perhaps erroneously ) has evolved from that and the younger Jazzers are embracing some of that calming it down somewhat and taking it to new places.
    The younger players grew up with that music. I am one of them although I was always more SRV than SV, if you get me.

    These modern guys are players incapable of really getting their sound without amplification really, they are pure electric players. The amp sound is an integral part of what they do and they grew up practicing plugged in on cheap but playable electrics through practice amps rather than on nasty action Kay acoustics or whatever. Kurt will spend an hour fiddling with his amp until it is set just right to respond to his touch.

    OTOH Joe Pass had an acoustic jazz guitarist's right hand, as does Benson and all they needed was something clean and reliable to make them louder. They are coming out of Django as much as Charlie Christian IMO. And CC could project on an acoustic as recordings show.

    Wes and Jim Hall were an early pointer in the legato direction, as was Jimmy Raney to some extent. More legato, more hornlike, less pick attack. Metheny went a notch further.

    Think of the difference between singers - Bing to Sinatra, Sinatra to say, Mark Murphy? Microphones and better PAs, also mike technique.

    The earliest players had no amplification at all of course. That Django was able to get as much legato as he did was as much a testament to the way his instruments were built as the way he played them, but archtops in contrast were designed for almost anti legato. Eddie Lang could make his L5 sing of course, but it is in no way a legato sound.

    Anyway I think there are some problems applying legato technique or even just a very even aesthetic to jazz and keeping the nuance in there. Moreno has addressed this best of the young guys IMO, a very nice balance, a step back from Kurt.

    Kurt has taken this as his aesthetic out of choice. YMMV. So we have entered the era of the super even eighth note jazz guitar solo. Phrasing can lack detail if all your notes are equal. Kurt makes it work for him of course, but it's worth being aware that aesthetic decisions are being made.

    Maybe some younger cat is going to come and buck the trend probably and then everyone will play like them in 10 years.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-15-2017 at 11:10 PM.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I honestly believe that the history of jazz guitar can be understood as a gradual shift towards lighter picking and more legato.
    This may be part of the reason Charlie Christian still sounds so fresh, vital, and swinging...
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola