Hey everyone,

I'm into metalcore/rock, and have been having a lot of trouble with a few things related to playing lead for said genres.

Before I start, do know I know all (at least I think) background theory: building scales/chords, playing them, etc. (I'm okayyy with modes but can't really apply them).

My first question is how exactly do I know which scales/arpeggios to use over certain chord progressions? For example, specifically for metalcore, if someone was laying down some power chords in the key of C minor, I know I could play C natural minor, but what about harmonic minor? and the modes? how do I know when I can use these other scales?

My second concern is this: I can finger/pick notes really fast (-4-3-2-1 etc), string skip, and tap too. When I'm improvising or even writing solos though, I don't know how to create those great sounding runs I hear in so many metal solos, where there's a huge ascent, but it's not boring like if you were just going up a scale. I'm expecting an answer like, "Just use the notes of the scale," but is that really it? Is there a way to know which 2/3/4 note per string runs I should use when going up/down the neck?

I'm just frustrated because I know all of the theory, I just can't make it work, and don't know how to play the notes.

Honestly if anyone could answer one/both of these questions I would be immensely grateful. Thanks SO much

It's not just about using the notes of the scale, it's about composing. Think about what you want to hear, then work out how to play it.

As for the playing over it... I'll let someone else describe, it depends on context but in most cases naturual minor is the one to use.
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Simple, you don't know as much theory as you think you do. Guitar Grimoire series could be a good pickup for you especially the progressions and improv one.
Learning some generic blues (or shreddy stuff) licks might be useful, then you can mess with them, putting them together and slightly modifying them.
it sounds like you practice a lot of excersizes, but not much music---how much time a day do you spend on technique vs. playing songs? a rule of thumb i've found decent success with is that unless there are extenuating circumstances (for example, a private teacher giving you a ton of technical work one week), you should not spend more then 1/4 your practice time on technique.
as far as scales and there use--it really depends, you need to look at the notes in the scale, and the notes in the chords and see if/how they fit.
all the best.
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Look at your chords, and see what notes are used. Do some zippy fast runs, but end on those notes. You could use the Cminor scale over any powerchord progression in that key, and do whatever runs and techniques you want within that but when you end your phrase, use the notes within whatever chord you're currently on.

When players do things like sweeps, taps etc they're often playing the same notes as the chord and this is basically how they make those sweet-sounding licks and phrases. The fast scale-runs tend to be more of a way of "getting to the next one" without losing steam.

That was a simple explanation but I hope it's useful, there's a heckuva lot more than ideally needs a face-to-face demonstration

In a nutshell- check out "chord tone soloing"
Last edited by SilverSpurs616 at Apr 13, 2011,
Also with things like harmonic minor v natural minor, with a powerchord progression it wouldn't really matter- you could use either fairly successfully. But when you have full chords, the progressions would be different. Before using either of these scales, you'd have to ensure that the chords and the progression establish the tonality.