We’ve all heard the soaring lead runs of legato masters like Joe Satriani and Allan Holdsworth, but it can be very difficult to pull off those runs with that same level of consistency.

It’s easy to measure our speed by using a metronome, but measuring our consistency and volume is another story entirely, and that’s what legato is all about.

How can we measure that?

With a noise gate.

The tool that’s normally used to cut out noise we don’t want to hear can also be used as a form of measurement, this time measuring volume. Although you don’t need a noise gate, it can help with that extra polish and your tone and – as you’ll soon find out – it can be just as essential to your practice routine as a metronome.

THE METHOD:

Step 1: Take your noise gate and place it in your signal path. If you’re not sure where it should go, we’ve got a guide for that. Generally speaking, first in your chain is likely your best bet.

Step 2: Start playing a legato passage and slowly turn up the noise gate threshold until it starts cutting out your notes.

Step 3: Back it off just a touch so that your softer/weaker notes are cut out by the noise gate, but the louder ones are being let through.

Step 4: Pick a lick or phrase you want to work on and get to practicing!

By using a noise gate in this way, we make it much easier to identify which parts of a lick are quieter than the rest, or which fingering combinations are weaker, resulting in a softer volume.

We can then isolate those sections or fingerings and work on strengthening them until they can deliver the same volume and tone as your stronger fingerings.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

That’s all there is to it! A simple but highly effective way to measure your independent finger volume/strength and keep track of your overall progress.

Remember, the key to great legato is consistency. Happy practicing!

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