Just got a guitar and am trying to learn how to play. I've been reading a lot of how you should mute the strings you are not using, using both hands. This is a lot harder to do with distortion than clean, so I was wondering if I primarily listen to metal if I should learn to play on distortion first, or play clean?

I'm confused as I don't want to learn bad habits while playing, such as holding the pick wrong, angling my hand/wrist wrong, or muting wrong.

Do these things comes with time or is there something I can read so I learn how to play correctly from the beginning?
Learn clean, it's more unforgiving with mistakes and will enable you to develop a better technique. Then when you switch to the lead channel it'll be easy.
Learn playing with no distortion, and as you work into playing 'metal' techniques and songs use distortion, distortion is a LOT more forgiving to your sound. Clean is like the hard english teacher in highschool. He graded you hard as hell on everything but made you a much better paper writer for college to make those papers easier.

Also muting with both hands is kinna...painful sounding. When I'm using a lot of gain/disto usually only one hand will find a way to keep the unused strings from feeding back.
I've read somewhere to mute with your index finger on your fretting hand, like mute the strings below the one you're playing and mute the string above it with the tip of your finger.

I don't know how this can be possible if you're playing fast leads, but maybe it is with a ton of practice.

Thanks for the help, I'm going to start learning on clean now.
You should practice clean and distorted - distorted to practice your muting, and clean to check you are fretting and picking the notes cleanly. Each setting shows up different things.

Edit: You can use any spare bit of either hand to mute with, and you're right, you should learn to mute with both.
Last edited by zhilla at Jul 8, 2009,
I'd use them for different techniques, like I'd use distortion to practice tapping, and muting more. But it's all personal preference really.
Practice both, clean is best for your overall guitar skills but controlling distortion is an art in itself.
Light crunch, because its pointless trying to whack the strings harder because you are not getting the sustain from clean, and distortion covers up mistakes. Its like people who recommend playing drum rudiments on pillows...you arent going to play a huge deep pillow so its futile.

Ive been learning Symphony of Destruction clean purely because i dont have an amp and extra effort is required to get through it.
Last edited by SneezeWax at Jul 8, 2009,
I'd say you should learn clean just so that when you mess up it doesn't sound bad. If you're learning from a book or something then you might get carried away with the distortion and start just playing things that sound cool. That's not bad, but you'll find yourself taking more time to get better at what you want if you just mess around all the time. Eventually you'll have all the time you need to make riffs and whatnot.
There be no shelter here.
playing distorted might seem easier, but it sounds just as bad if you're ****ing up.
Yeah, if your going to play with distortion I wouldn't recommend putting your volume knob at ten. Put it around wherever you don't always hear your strings 'humming' because you will sound like crap.