Metal Techniques

This lesson will be about various techniques used in metal guitar, and how to execute them.

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Ultimate Guitar
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There are many techniques used in metal guitar playing, and a lot of them are confusing and/or difficult to pull of, so I will give you the best, and most detailed instructions I can. Pinch Harmonics: Pinch harmonics are one of the most useful skills to have in your arsenal of shredding techniques, and one of the simplest!! do perform a pinch harmonic you must do two things 1. Pluck the note you want to do a pinch harmonic on 2. Make a scooping motion with your picking hand you so that your thumb barely touches the string that you just picked. A few things you should know about pinch harmonics 1. It is are easiest to do them on your bridge pickup (that's the one in back, if you don't know) but may possible on your other pickups, depending on your guitar. 2. you need a lot of gain/drive or they wont work right 3. there are "nodes" on your strings, located around your pickups and harmonics will only work if you hit the string with your pick in on of these, it may take some time to find them. 4. pinch harmonics are easier on the thinner strings, but possible on all of them. Economy Picking: Economy picking is easier to use than alternate picking, but harder to learn. It is very similar to alternate picking except when you are changing to a different string, then you "sweep" up or down to the next string rather than jump over it before you pluck it, let me give you an example. D will represent a downstroke and U will represent an upstroke
economy
e|------------------------------D-U-D-U-------------------------------|
B|------------------------D-U-D---------U-D-U-------------------------|
G|------------------D-U-D---------------------U-D-U-------------------|
D|------------D-U-D---------------------------------U-D-U-------------|
A|------D-U-D---------------------------------------------U-D-U-------|
E|D-U-D---------------------------------------------------------U-D-U-|

Alternate

e|------------------------------U-D-U--------------------------------|
B|------------------------D-U-D--------D-U-D-------------------------|
G|------------------U-D-U--------------------U-D-U-------------------|
D|------------D-U-D--------------------------------D-U-D-------------|
A|------U-D-U--------------------------------------------U-D-U-------|
E|D-U-D--------------------------------------------------------D-U-D-|
see how with alternate picking you have to jump over the string every time you move up or down? Economy picking saves a lot of right hand motion and lets you really maximize your picking speed when moving up and down the strings. Here is an exercise for you to practice.
e|-------------------------6-7-8-9--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------5-6-7-------8-9-10--------------------------------|
G|---------------4-5-6------------------9-10-11-------------------------|
D|----------3-4-5------------------------------10-11-12-----------------|
A|-----2-3-4-------------------------------------------11-12-13---------|
E|1-2-3--------------------------------------------------------12-13-14-|
remember to use the SAME stroke every third note to carry to the next string, in other words "sweep" up and down Sweep Picking: Sweep picking is used when you want to move between many different strings in a very rapid fashion, say if you only wanted to play one or two notes per string. you don't pick individual strings with sweet picking, rather you make a strumming motion over the strings you want to play. It is important to only have fingers on one string at a time though, because when you are sweeping you want all of the strings except the one you are currently playing on to be silent, so each note sounds individually rather than just strumming a chord. generally you play two notes on the top string and bottom string of your sweep, in order to change direction without breaking the flow. Here is an example of a sweep picking lick (originally I wrote this is D standard but it should sound fine in E if you don't want to retune)D will mean downstroke and U will mean upstroke
d|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|------D15-U17-------------D17-U18-------------D18-U17-------------D17-U15|
F|----D14-----U14---------D14-----U14---------D14-----U14---------D14------|
C|--D15---------U15-----D15---------U15-----D15---------U15-----D15--------|
G|D17-------------U17-D17-------------U17-D17-------------U17-D17----------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Sometimes a lick will require you to play a note on the same fret, one string higher. when this happens you need to "roll" your finger (from the tip to the ball of your finger, almost like you were going to bar the fret) up or down depending on the direction you are moving in. I hope this helps someone!

41 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    zucky22389
    The pinch harmonic part kinda sucked I thought. He makes it seem like you pluck the string with the pick, then hit the string with your thumb, when in fact, this is supposed to happen at the same time. It's not easier on the higher (ligher?) strings, it's pretty simple on the low e string, especially with a little less thumb.
    unknwn_artist
    i CAN'T sweep at ALL, ive been looking for a good lesson to start out on, but all the ones ive found have been too hard for me lol. i don't have any problems with the other techniques though.
    webbtje
    Deadly Zedly wrote: webbtje wrote: Lol @ an article about metal technique not even bothering to mention palm muting or tremolo picking. tremolo picking will be in lesson 2, and palm muting is so simple i didnt think it was worth the time to put in but i guess i can throw that in lesson two as well
    So both are less important to general metal technique than sweeping, economy picking and pinch harmonics? K.
    MetalheadforJC
    The pinch harmonics doesn't really help me. Either it's the normal note but almost silent or it's muted when i do it.
    Human371
    gizmodious wrote: Since your taking pointer on lessons, its important to let the guitar newbies know that not all licks can be economy picked... or you could laugh your ass off knowing that someone out there is trying to rattle 4 note off on 2 strings and hating himself lol
    well I see your point, but actually all licks can be economy picked you just have to start on an upstroke for some of them. it depends on which way you are crossing strings
    Deadly Zedly
    webbtje wrote: Lol @ an article about metal technique not even bothering to mention palm muting or tremolo picking.
    tremolo picking will be in lesson 2, and palm muting is so simple i didnt think it was worth the time to put in but i guess i can throw that in lesson two as well
    jetman666
    if people are having trouble with pinch harmonics maybe you can try it the way i've always done it. i hold the pick normally but when i downstroke i let the tip of my index finger (almost the top of my fingernail) strike the note the same time as the pick. if i keep my hand on the bridge (palm-muting) i can hit a harmonic almost anywhere on the fretboard. in fact, i do this so well (and fast) with this technique that pinch harmonics have become an essential part of the riffs i write... i play in C standard by-the-way... if you're having trouble with sweeping go look at my lesson entitled "beginning arpeggios: 3-string exercises" and see if that helps any...
    supercool27
    pinch harmonics are difficult at first, but once you begin to learn them the rest will come. one person mentioned plucking the string and tapping at points to find the sweet spot. that's part of it. but to get down the technique i did this to teach myself. lets say you have a 22 fret neck (general example) then hold the fret 12 frets down and then try to get the squeel from the end of the 22nd fret. then just build. depending on how heavy you play lighter strings will be easier than thicker gauge
    supercool27
    good article btw, i recently wrote my 1st on trouble shooting floyd rose style bridges
    Just1Guitarist
    Wolf498 wrote: economy picking looks usefull, anyways gotta go practice pinch harmonics
    Good luck with your pinched squealies. It took me 3 months of constant practice to get it right.
    NiveK686
    This is helpful Im on Sweep Picking and Pinch Harmonics... I think ph are easier than Swep picking -.- Anyways, nice lesson
    RecordStoreTrsh
    I don't know if this will help anyone with pinch harmonics but I learned it in a couple days by screwing around and lightly tapping the string with the pick or my thumb for a split second and kept doing that until I got the squeel. remember Index finger and thumb, with the pick like 3 cm or so away from the pick. The song I practiced pinch harmonics on was the Metaloclypse theme song too by the way xD haha. Everyone learns differently hopefully that helps someone. Oh and I can't sweep pick very well and my guitars completely tuned in the key of C ha ha it sounded so bad when I tried it.
    MoshPitWarrior
    I knew most of the techniques, I just find it hard to practice or even know how to make a scale/chord into sweep. What is this sweep? C what? Nice sweep excise anyway, gives me sort-of warm up to the sweeps in some songs I am going to playing soon. (Protest the Hero has alot of sweeps) BTW: You forgot that the type pickup also effects how pinch harmonics come off (single coil vs. EMG/Humbucker) and dive bombs since they fall under the same subject of harmonics.
    Wolf498
    economy picking looks usefull, anyways gotta go practice pinch harmonics
    Deadly Zedly
    Equivalence wrote: lol i've been economy picking all the time without knowing it...it's a good lesson, but a bit short though, more like a summary of several techniques that other lessons cover in-depth.
    thx for the feedback, this is my first lesson ever so i will work on making my future lesson better.
    Deadly Zedly
    Wolf498 wrote: economy picking looks usefull, anyways gotta go practice pinch harmonics
    yeah its really great, kind of hard to get used to if your used to using alternate picking. good luck with those squealies =]
    kooerthnyu
    pretty sick thats a good exercise to use if your trying to learn to Sweep Pick
    andeen10
    Oo great exercise for the sweep picking... im getting th hang of it =]
    Equivalence
    lol i've been economy picking all the time without knowing it...it's a good lesson, but a bit short though, more like a summary of several techniques that other lessons cover in-depth.
    eastern_riffs
    decent article, shows some of the generic techniques that metal guitarists use. would've been nice to see some of the more specific details, and input on basic tapping,sweep taps,legato, string skipping and speed exercises. metal is very diverse today with even flamenco guitar playing a hand at it.
    Deadly Zedly
    eastern_riffs wrote: decent article, shows some of the generic techniques that metal guitarists use. would've been nice to see some of the more specific details, and input on basic tapping,sweep taps,legato, string skipping and speed exercises. metal is very diverse today with even flamenco guitar playing a hand at it.
    I'll post u panother lesson with those in a few days =]
    gizmodious
    Since your taking pointer on lessons, its important to let the guitar newbies know that not all licks can be economy picked... or you could laugh your ass off knowing that someone out there is trying to rattle 4 note off on 2 strings and hating himself lol
    DeadxEndxEmpty
    Zhuriel wrote: Hmm, interesting, I've aways found pinch harmonics easier on the lower strings. Might be because I hit the string relatively hard with my thumb.
    I do too, but the trick is to dig in less on higher strings. on the lower strings I'll dig all the way to the knuckle and it sound AWESOME.
    Zhuriel
    Hmm, interesting, I've aways found pinch harmonics easier on the lower strings. Might be because I hit the string relatively hard with my thumb.
    COBShredder
    damn right man, economy picking is hard if u're used to alternate picking... BTW pretty good lesson
    corrda00
    Great lesson! But I don't think it should be called metal guitar techniques because these techniques are applicable in so many other genres.
    Dynamight
    Nice little lesson, but none of these are metal techniques per se. More like hard rock techniques.
    webbtje
    Lol @ an article about metal technique not even bothering to mention palm muting or tremolo picking.
    Fausch
    Personally, I disagree on pinch squeals. I find them easiest to do on the low strings between frets 1 and 7 and on the D and G between 9 and 14. And it is entirely possible to hit squeals with little to no distortion.