Hi everyone,

I am new at learning guitar, and so far I found books mostly taught only acoustic guitar and they dont explain things very well. I want to learn to play electric guitar for metal / heavy metal / death metal sound. So I decided to learn online instead and had found a few good websites. Currently I am just practising with acoustic guitar until I buy an electric one. Though the thing is, most website dont teach things in order, its kinda all over the place. I was just wondering, for metal / heavy metal / death metal, what should the step of learning be?  So far I am just learning the notes on the fretboard, and the octave shape to identify the same notes on different string.Should the next one be scale, picking techniques then chord? If someone could point me to some right direction, I would appreciate it.

thanks in advance.
Honestly the starting steps are pretty similar across the board no matter the genre.
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I sincerely recommend going through, and really getting comfortable with, Justin Sandercoe's beginner and intermediate courses:


Justin is a fantastic teacher and a great musician, and there is a wealth of material available on his website for free.  Go through it all from beginning to end.  Don't skip anything.  Even if you think you know it, don't skip anything.  It may seem laborious if there are parts you already know, but Justin has laid out a whole lesson plan that will give you a really solid foundation of the skills you need to go forward and learn more of what you want.

Once you've got the foundational skills, you'll probably be able to teach yourself most of the rest of what you need, and if not then you'll have a good place to start from when asking questions.

Remember: playing guitar, even basic guitar, is more difficult than people give it credit for, so don't worry if it takes you a long time to get any of it down.  Good luck!
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reincarnator that's true, but your post is still really not helpful.  Maybe provide some assistance as to what the "starting steps" are, in your estimation?
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

Zaphod_Beeblebr thanks for the recommendation and kind words. It motivates me to learn. Yes guitar is hard since I have never really play any musical instrument, but since I started I find myself thinking about it a lot. Even when I am working, I keep thinking about the position of the notes and I would find myself doing the left hand fingers exercises. I'll check the link out and learn, thanks for that. If there are more tips, I welcome them.
Eclipse14 the one major tip I would give is simple: never be afraid to ask.  Some people around here can be jerks, but nearly everyone who posts on this forum has their heart in the right place and wants you to learn.  So never be afraid to ask, whatever question you may have.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

outside of what everyone else said,

listen to as much music as possible.  Be diverse.  Become an audiophile, love records, be stoked about cool riffs, educate yourself about the history of music, embrace different genres.

Knowing how to play the guitar is one thing, having the inspiration and motivation to use it for something is another.  
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alternate picking technique is essential to metal, as well as string skipping, tremolo picking, and an intermediate to high level of understanding chords and their inversions. 
I'd say with guitar desipite your genre, a good number 1 starting point is to learn the basic open chords. Learn your E, A, G, C, D etc. chords and the minor versions of them (the F chord is tricky in the beginning). Learn a few basic chord progressions and try to play them slowly in tempo (like E minor - C major - G major - D major). 

After getting a basic understanding of chords, start learning power chords - most heavy metal songs are full of them. Start by playing power chords on two strings, e.g. 5th fret of A string and 7th fret of D string. Practice power chords all over the fret board and train how to change between them quickly. Now you can also start learning simple riffs, like Enter Sandman or Iron Man. 

One of the most important techniques in metal is palm muting. At a pretty early stage I'd start focusing on my picking technique and palm muting so you can play those "chugging" riffs. Try to nail Enter Sandman verses. This is a good starting point. Don't try to learn soloing stuff before you have basic chords and picking technique down. Then you can start learning the basic pentatonic scale box shape.
Last edited by ChasenPipo at Jun 12, 2017,
ChasenPipo and Guitaraxe thanks for that advise, ive been learning some basic chord like the D chord and G7 but it sounded too "happy and bright", so I just thought of straight away learning to play power chord. I have just bought an Ibanez GRX40 with Roland Microcube GX amp, it definitely felt different than the acoustic. This is what I am thinking about based on everyone's feedback and what ive read online. The lessons are in order and are mixed together so I wont get bored:

1 Technique:

Alternate Picking
Palm Muting
hammer on - pull off
Note Bending
Chord transition

2 Chord:

Chord based on scale

3 Scale:

Major scale

If learning the basic open chord first is a good idea, then I will learn them first before power chord. The above will be the meat of the practice session, with a side dish of a theory OR a basic chord per day.... mostly I will focus on the above. Any feedback on my lesson plan? is it a good idea?
Last edited by Eclipse14 at Yesterday
If you're mainly interested in playing metal I don't see why you shouldn't learn power chords first. They're easier and more relevant to what you want to play. Also learn dyads, two note 'chords' which are like a normal power chord reversed, with the 5th as the lower note. You know, like this :
Learn open chords as well but you can learn those later.
ive been practising triplet-riffing I believe its called (down-up-down, down, down, down) after a few minutes my index figure hurts. Is this normal? does it get better with time or heavy metal pick holding is different? I hold the pick between the index finger and the thumb, like holding a pen except the index finger is curl.
Eclipse14 I suspect what you've actually been practicing is a gallop riff; a triplet is three evenly spaced notes.  From your description you've been playing the Iron Maiden/Metallica/Slayer style gallop, which is an arrangement of two 16th notes and an 8th note.

You definitely don't need to do anything different for picking metal; technique is totally genre-ambiguous.
If your index finger hurts, I suspect you're gripping the pick too hard You actually get more stability with a middle-strength grip for the same reason they build sky scrapers to flex in high winds: if you don't allow for flexibility, you just break.  Loosen up your grip a bit, and you should find that the pain stops.  If it doesn't then there are deeper issues, either with what you're doing or your hands.

The best way to really assess what you're doing is for us to get a video of you playing.  If you can provide that (any modern laptop or smartphone will get good enough footage to see what you're doing), then we can do better analysis.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

Zaphod_Beeblebr thanks for your reply, this weekend I will create a short video and post in here. Maybe there are other mistakes too that I didnt notice. I have been holding the pick quite hard because sometimes it get stuck, especially for the down-up-down section either for one string or two strings. Ive tried angling the pick to 45 degrees but it still happens sometimes. In the meantime I'll try to loosen up the grip for the next practice and see if there is an improvement.
This will be an unpopular opinion: what you're doing right now grows you as a musician (and is something that I think eventually every guitarist should learn), but if you're intent on only playing metal music, it won't help you at all. I'd even argue it will mean you have lesser time to practice on your technique.

I'm a believer in developing your technique through learning songs, so I think you should start going through your library and seeing what songs sound doable.

Having said that, sooner or later, you will need to dedicate some time to really practicing certain techniques. Your fundamentals would be either alternate picking or economy picking, legato techniques and economy of motion. The more advanced techniques like tapping, sweeping, etc. can be visited later.
Eclipse14 like I say, I think that's at least partially because of such a firm grip; the pick needs to be able to move and flex somewhat.  Good, though, getting a video is the best idea.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”

triface hi thanks for your input. Why learning through song? I can imagine I would be stuck in a lot of section. Shouldn't I work on a specific technique first before jumping into playing song? like the gallop which I imagine is fundamental, like a jab to setup all kinds of attacks.
Don't get the wrong idea. You still have to focus on technique by technique, but the idea is that you have something musical to work towards. Think of being able to finish learning a piece as a mini goal. It gives you a goal more tangible and enjoyable than, say, being able to play a certain exercise at x BPM.

In the gallop example, you will focus your efforts on learning the song, yes, but if you have problems with the galloping, then focus on that part of the song so you can get the galloping done properly.
triface I understand, yeah thats a good idea ill find a song, im sure there is an old metallica song that is suitable for beginners.
Hi everyone, I uploaded a quick video just to show how I pick. Pardon if I look messy I just got back from work and tomorrow I also have to work so I probably wont have time to create one. Anyway, I did it slowly so if there is anything please point out anything that need fixing. Pardon the audio I use my laptop webcam so it will sound horrible. Basically, I did the down, down, down, down-up-down muted and unmuted following the click of the metronome. I also included pictures so you can see better how I hold the pick.



Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Eclipse14 at Jun 16, 2017,
Enter Sandman is usually recommended because the solo isn't that difficult, so it's a good entry into lead work. You also get to practice palm muting and some sliding in the verse and chorus.

On your picking, your choice of pick is good. You want something heavy and stiff so your pick won't flex when you're picking. It doesn't always have to be something 1mm thick. I've found something in between (around 0.7mm) is also fine. Use the softer picks for strumming if you like the sound.

I notice you're anchoring a little with your last finger. It's fine to have some form of anchor on the pick guard, but make sure you don't end up using it as a crutch. Earlier this decade when I was still very into improving on the guitar, UG was very anti-anchoring, so I ended up not doing it at all. I did however ended up using the side of my right palm to mute unwanted noise (which I think you're doing; are you resting your hands on the strings?), and that became my way of finding where the strings are without looking.

This is a personal opinion, but I prefer to hold my pick much closer to the edge so I don't have to change my grip too much for pinch harmonics.

Other than that, it looks like you just need more practice so you're more comfortable with the movements.
Last edited by triface at Jun 16, 2017,
triface hi, yes I am resting the blade of my hand with a little bit of the flesh on the string lightly just  in front of the bridge but behind the first pickup. I find when I touch the pick guard with my pinky it gives me more stability rather than floating all over the place. Is that ok or should I stop doing it now? with picking sometimes my down-up-down missed the up pick. Maybe I still need to get used to it? I am not too sure.

" but I prefer to hold my pick much closer to the edge " maybe this is why sometimes I get stuck on the string, I should bring it more in. 

About muting and un-muting. lets say I am playing a down, down, down, Dchord, and I want to let the Dchord ring before repeating. Lets say each pick follows a click of a metronome. So when its time to let the Dchord ring, I should remove my right palm and let it ring just until before the metronome click again, then I should mute and play the next pick right when the metronome click? is that how it is? unmute pick, mute, unmute pick, mute, unmute pick, mute?

Also do people play chord muted? just like galloping.
Last edited by Eclipse14 at Jun 16, 2017,
Using it for some form of stability is fine, but you must always be careful not to end up adding too much tension to your picking hand and fingers because of this.

I can't comment on the part about missing the up stroke because I had that problem myself and it just resolved itself eventually. If I had to say, it was probably just practice.

Muting with your right palm is a technique that's almost exclusive to lead guitar. The idea is that the 1 or 2 strings you're playing should be the ones ringing out, and everything else would be muted by your right palm (thicker/lower strings) and your left fingers (the thinner/higher strings). In essence, the strings higher than the ones you're playing will be muted by your left hand, and the ones lower than the ones you're playing will be muted by your right hand. Especially with overdrive or distortion on, this will make a big difference, because any unwanted string noise will be amplified.

Back to the chords, no, generally you don't want to be using your right hand to mute the chords. Your chords should be smooth with no muting in between if you're holding the chord. I find I adopt a floating right hand technique when I'm doing chord work.

Having said that, there are situations where you may want to use your right palm to mute out chords. You may wish to syncopate your chords, or for some reason you have a rest (which will require you to mute the strings so no sound rings out).
Last edited by triface at Jun 16, 2017,
Hey man, I've started out 2 years ago so I can perfectly remember the situation you are in right now.
Everyone has given really great advice, but here's an advice from me which helped me alot, if you already have a friend playing the guitar (preferably more advanced than you) it will help you out a lot. All the little tips and advises can go a long way as he can see your playing first hand. Plus you guys can always learn some songs and jam together. I personally learned all the techniques I know from songs, some people prefer practicing scales and doing exercises and both ways are fine tbh, but you can have more fun using riffs/licks from your favourite songs as exercises.
for eg.
Breaking the law - Judas Priest very simple song to pick up on (power chords, palm muting, chord transitions) and it helps you with the timing too
Wherever I may roam - Metallica (hammer ons, slides, lots of palm muting)

Hope you can pick up something useful here and most importantly have fun practicing!
nemo178 hi, thanks for taking the time to write and giving input. Since reading advises from here, I decided to do both, playing techniques, trying to memorize chords, rhythm, and the notes on the fretboard... and then ill play a song. Learning to play a song actually makes it more fun and made me look forward for the practice session. Thanks for your recommendation, Judas Priest - Breaking the law tab difficulty looks as accessible for beginners as Motorhead - we are the road crew.  Cheers.