Alternative Legato Techniques: Scales & Arpeggios

Most players are familiar with the tapping technique popularized by Eddie Van Halen. The sound most associated with the tapping technique is the "Eruption" style triad pattern. However, the technique can also be applied to scalar runs and arpeggios. This is accomplished by not only tapping, but also plucking notes with the right hand ring finger. Although it sounds complicated, the concept of the technique is pretty easy to grasp. There are two points to remember while working through the examples:

1. If ascending, pluck the first note of the new string with the right hand ring finger.
2. If descending, tap the first note of the new string with the right hand index (or middle) finger.

PLEASE NOTE: "down" triangle = tap with RH index finger, "up" triangle = pluck with RH ring finger

Example 1: D Mixolydian, descending

Example 2: D Mixolydian, ascending

This technique also works great when playing four note per string scales.

Example 3: Four note per string D Mixolydian, ascending

Notice that the pattern changes back to three notes per string between strings two and three; this is done to avoid the uncomfortable physical jump that would normally occur.

A combination of three and four note per string scales is a great way of changing positions smoothly. When playing the last example, notice how smooth the transition is from fifth to tenth position.

Example 4: Three/four note per string combination D Lydian Dominant, ascending

Because the intervals of an arpeggio are wider than in a scale form, picked notes must be mixed in with the plucked, pulled and hammered notes. To make this work, you must hold the pick normally while tapping with your middle finger and plucking with ring finger.

PLEASE NOTE: "up" triangle = pluck with RH ring finger, "down" triangle = tap with RH middle finger.

Example 5: C# Mi7, ascending

Example 6: C# Mi7, decending

Let's expand the arpeggio into the lower octave.

Example 7: C# Mi7

Notice the use of repetitive notes in Example 3; this allows the player to extend the length of the sequence. This technique also works well with sweep picking.

Example 8: G Ma sweep/ E Mi7 "alternative legato" arpeggio (generates G Ma6 sound)

Hopefully these examples have given you something new to think about. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via E-mail:

the following bio material provided by Tom Kopyto

About the artist:

What style of music does guitarist Tom Kopyto play? "My music is one part 21st century metal riffing that will make you bang your head and one part late 80's/early 90's instrumental melodic shred guitar that's played extremely fast waaay up on the tiny strings," explains Tom. "It kinda sounds like 'chug, chug, chug....wheedly, wheedly, wheedly, weeee.'"

Tom was named "Best Rock Guitarist" in the "Best Guitarist on the Web" contest sponsored by Ernie Ball, Sonic Foundry and Music Man. He has also been featured in Guitar Player Magazine's "Reader's Challenge" feature. His recorded music has received critical acclaim from the instrumental shred guitar and progressive metal press and has helped Tom build a worldwide fanbase .

An active and experienced educator, Tom has been teaching privately since 1994. He has worked with thousands of students of all levels, from beginners to professional recording and touring musicians.


Tom Kopyto