Heavy Metal Tone Tips Part 1: Picking the Right Tone

Are you looking to get that aggressive, heavy, in your face tone that you hear on your favorite metal albums? Well, you've come to the right place. In this series of "Heavy Metal Tone Tips," I'll be sharing some quick tips and tricks which have helped me get a more aggressive and in your face metal tone.

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Heavy Metal Tone Tips Part 1: Picking the Right Tone
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Are you looking to get that aggressive, heavy, in your face tone that you hear on your favorite metal albums? Well, you've come to the right place. In this series of "Heavy Metal Tone Tips," I'll be sharing some quick tips and tricks which have helped me get a more aggressive and in your face metal tone.

I want to start off by saying that your final tone is a combination of many different things, the way you play, the pick you use, the strings you use, the pickups, the guitar, the amp, etc etc. But I want to address the first and foremost thing that has helped me in getting a heavier tone.

Picking Technique.

By this I don't mean, alternate picking or legato etc. What I'm referring to by this is how heavily I pick, or with how much force the string is being picked. This is the first thing that needs to be addressed. Picking the strings with a bit more aggression and force is the first way to get a punchier, more aggressive tone when you're playing heavy distorted guitars. Now this doesn't mean you go and just wail on the strings uncontrollably, you just pick the strings a bit more aggressively making sure that you're picking hard enough and not so hard that you're making the strings go sharp. The more forcefully you pick, the heavier the sound is, and the lower you can turn your gain knob on the guitar and clean up your tone.

Now of course you have to be mindful of what type of music you're playing, this kind of picking technique isn't helpful if you're playing RnB or Jazz, but for Hard Rock and Metal playing, this is the first thing you can do that'll help your tone cut through in the mix.

 

Below, I've done a shootout video comparing softer picking vs. heavier picking. I've left all the knobs and settings on the guitar and amp exactly the same for both the clips and the only thing I'm changing is how forcefully I'm hitting the strings.

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Notice how the sound gets a lot more exiting and aggressive when picked with a bit more force. The guitars are now screaming at you instead of just "being there."

In the next video, I'll talk about the actual amp settings to achieve a full, thick and heavy sound. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Andrew32459
    That was the Captain's Obvious lesson, rigtht?
    reveriesbandofficial
    I wish it was, but being an audio engineer and having recorded a good amount of metal guitarists, only a very small amount of them seem to understand this is a fundamental aspect to their tone, hence this video