Learn To Play Like Toni Iommi

author: Shread_6009 date: 03/23/2009 category: guitar gurus
rating: 8.4 / votes: 14 
Ever since 1970's "black sabbath", guitarist Toni Iommi has been playing some of the greatest riffs in guitar history, as well as defining one of the most popular music genres, heavy metal, despite losing the tips of his fingers in an industrial accident. This article is devoted entirely to some of the techniques used by the Godfather himself. Iommi plays all his songs on an SG, and uses light gauge strings, usually down tunes his guitar, and plays with lots of distortion.

1. Power Chords

Toni iommis more popular songs are played using power chords, usually found done by the 7th or 12th fret. This is the main riff of one of sabbaths more popular songs, "Iron Man" off 1970's "Paranoid". Use only the 5th string and 6th.
   B5   D5    D5 E5    E5    G5 Fb5               D5 E5
e|----------------------------------------------------------
B|----------------------------------------------------------
G|----------------------------------------------------------
D|----------------------------------------------------------
A|-9----12----12/14----14----17-16-17-16-17-16----12/14-----
E|-7----10----10/12----12----15-14-15-14-15-14----10/12-----
These kinds of chords are use in lots of sabbath songs, such as "Paranoid", "War Pigs", "the wizard" and lots of other sabbath classics.

2. Trilling

Iommi uses a technique called "Trilling" which is just hammering on and of the string quickly again and again. This is found in "War Pigs", " Sweet Leaf" etc. Heres the main riff of "Black Sabbath" as an example. Trills are represented by (4, 5)4v ( best I can do on a computer), where you place a finger on 4, and hammer on and off the 5.
    G                        G
e|--------------------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------------------
G|--0v-----------------------0v---------------------
D|--0v-----5-----------------0v-----5---------------
A|--xv---------(4,5)4v-------xv-----------4vvvvv----
E|--3v-----------------------3v---------------------

    G                              | play through verse
e|---------------------------------|--------------|
B|---------------------------------|--------------|
G|--0v-----------------------------|--------------|
D|--0v-----5-----------------------|-------5------|
A|--xv-----------(4,5)4vvv/12/4----|-------------4|
E|--3v-----------------------------|-3------------|

3. Down Tuning.

Toni Iommi lost the tips of 2 of his fingers while working in a factory , so he made plastic tips out of dishsoap bottles in order to keep playing. In order to ease tension on his fingers, he down tuned to D, C and C#. These tunings are noticable in "into the void" "snowblind" etc. A perfect example is the riff to "children of the grave" which is tuned to C# (1 and 1/2 steps down)
    E5                                C5 B5
C#|---------------------------------------
G#|---------------------------------------
E |---------------------------------------
B |---------------------------------------
F#|-7--7-7-7-7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7-7-7-7--10-9
C#|-0--0-0-0-0-0--0-0-0-0-0--0-0-0-0--8--7

4. Solo's

Toni iommi is known for his amazing solos throughout sabbath's career. The solo's for Iron man, Paranoid, Warpigs, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath etc. Are all great musicaly, and many fit perfectly with the song, without going on and on endlessly. Here's a personal favorite of mine, the solo to sweet leaf.
e|---------------------------------------------------9
B|--12b14--12b14--12b14r14p------------------------9--
G|--------------------------11p9--11p9----9-11b13-----
D|-------------------------------------11-------------
A|----------------------------------------------------
E|----------------------------------------------------

e|----------------9-----------------------------------------------------
B|--12b14--12b14------12p9----------------------------------------------
G|-------------------------11p9------11--11p9---------------------------
D|-------------------------------11-----------11-11-11p9----------------
A|-------------------------------------------------------11-11-11-9-7---
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------9

e|-----------------------9---------------------------9-------
B|--12b14--12b14--12b14------12p9----------------------12b14-
G|--------------------------------11-11p9----9-11b13---------
D|----------------------------------------11-----------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------

e|---------------9------------------------------------------
B|-12b14-12b14------12p9------------------------------------
G|-----------------------11p9-------------------------------
D|----------------------------11-11-11----------------------
A|--------------------------------------11-11p9-11-9-7----7-
E|------------------------------------------------------9---
Alot of Iommi's bending is done using his pinky, since he can't feel the string under his injured finegers. that's the lesson. Depending on how well this is received, I'll probably write one with more emphasis to Iommi's solos and his years with Ronnie James Dio, Glen Hughes, his recent Solo career etc., though I believe this page says it all.
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