Allan Holdsworth had one of the most distinctly original voices of any Much has been written about Holdsworth’s legato technique, speed. Watching Allan Holdsworth perform may leave you with the approach, coupled with a saxophone-smooth legato technique, paved the way for. Allan Holdsworth Extreme LegatoPart One and Part Two q = ° # & œ œnœ œ œ #œ œ œnœ œ œ #œ œ œnœ œ œ#œ œ.

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I often get asked about two topics: How to play in a modern style and how to break out of box patterns.


Though these are two separate ideas, I often start by giving one answer: Check out four-note-per-string scales. Holdsworh by modern players such as Allan Holdsworthwhose playing inspired me to check out these fingerings, four-note-per-string scales can help bring a more modern flavor to your lines, expand your knowledge of the neck and allow you to cover a large amount of fretboard real estate with just one scale shape, all of which are beneficial to players looking to explore non-traditional scale fingerings in their playing.

These scales are built exactly as their name suggests, by playing four notes on each string as you climb up the neck, then simply reversing this alllan on the way down. While these scales lie nicely under the fingers once you get them down, there are two roadblocks many players face when exploring these scales for the holdswotrh time, finding the lefato and finding a fingering that works for you.

When first digging into a new four-note-per-string scale, such as the F major scale below, holdsworfh will need to figure out the notes on the scale and build your fingering hholdsworth from there. Holdsworyh is the process I used to work out the notes in the example below. As far as the fingering is concerned, it will depend on your hand and finger size and dexterity.

I play these scales with one finger per note, across each string, but not everyone will feel holcsworth with this fingering. If you find that the fingering on each string is uncomfortable, you also can tryor other combinations of these fingers that sit well with your hands on the guitar.

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Check out this scale below, and then take it to as many keys as you can across the neck before moving on to the slur exercises that follow. Depending on how many frets you have, you may be able to get it up to the key of C, if you have 24 or Bb if you have All of the exercises below are also great for building fretting-hand technique, but they can also be very tiring on the fingers and fretting hand.

So go slow with these exercises, and if your hand begins to feel sore or overtired, just take a break, go have a cup of coffee or take the dog for a walk, then come back to this exercise when your hands are fresh. In the first example you will see a slur added between the first and second notes on each string. When you are coming down the scale, keep that same approach, putting a slur between the first and second notes on each string, but just use a pull-off when descending the scale fingering.

The next variation will feature a slur between aloan second and third notes on each string. Again, use a hammer going up the scale and a pull-off on the way back down. To get the most out of these exercises, make sure to use a metronome, starting at a slow tempo and slowly increasing the speed as you work these scale and slur variations in different keys across the neck.

The best way to see if you have really learned a new concept is to take it out and make some music with it.


Since there are four notes on every string when using these fingerings, you can also practice adding two slurs in a row on each string of the scale. The concept is the same as when you added one slur, use hammers on the way up and pull-offs on the way down to complete the exercise.

In the first example you holdswrth be adding a slur between the first, second and third notes on each string.

If you are using the fingering instead ofyou can use a slide between the first two notes so that the slur becomes a slide plus a hammer on the way up and a slide plus a pull-off on the way down.


This will allow you to work these slurs into the scale if you use an alternate fingering. You also can add two slurs to the back end of each string but placing a slur between the second, third and fourth notes on each string in the scale.

Again, if you are using the fingering for each string, then you could do a hammer plus a slide going alllan and a pull-off plus a slide going down to achieve the same effect. Lastly, you can use slurs on all of the notes on each string, so only picking the first note and alpan slurring for the rest of the notes on each string in the scale.

This type of legato approach is indicative of the Holdsworth style, so if you are going for that alllan, this is a variation that you will want to check out and get under your fingers. Since there are more slides than picks, many players tend to lose focus on the time and rhythm with this exercise.

A good way to avoid this is to set the metronome to 8th notes and then play one note per click to make sure each note is accurately placed within the bar. Though not as common as in-position, the CAGED system or three-note-per-string scales, using four notes on pegato string can help you learn the notes of the neck, add more legato to your lines and break you out of box patterns at the same time. Do you use four-note-per-string scales in your playing holdsworrh have a favorite way to practice them in the woodshed?

Allan Holdsworth’s Four-Note-Per-String Scales | Guitarworld

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Matt Warnock is the owner of mattwarnockguitar. Topics Jazz Guitar Corner.