Fat Off Metal

author: ultrasonic date: 04/08/2009 category: guitar styles
rating: 6.3
votes: 13
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Metal. Possibly one of the most complicated and complex form of guitar playing except for maybe Neo-Classical (Not sure what that is? Look up Yngwie Malmsteen, I think its spelt like that). Most people just ascociate it with playing very loud and fast. And although playing fast is generally a factor there is much more to it than that. Well I'm not going to bore you any longer. Lets get to business then. There are 5 Main Techniques you should be able to do to play Metal properly. I will explain each of them but if you need a more in depth explanation then you could probably find lessons on them on here. 1. Palm Mutes 2. Pinch Harmonics 3. Gallop and Tremelo Picking 4. Fingertapping 5. Sweep Picking or 'Rakeing' The first three are the more important aspects for the rhythm so I'm going to focus on them more, the last two are more for solo's and aren't essential but will be an advantage for making your own solos and laying others.

Palm Mutes

Probably the easiest of the 5 techniques, palm muting is when you hold the palm of your picking hand over the strings while you play. If pulled of correctly it should produce a clunk sound. Another way you can do this is rest your fret hand over the strings lightly, and it should create the same effect. However if your playing fast the other technique is probably better, but I'll leave it to you. Heres just an easy excercise you could use to get the hang of it if you haven't all ready.
     . .  . .  . .  . .
Key . - Palm Mute Once you can play this fluently then you can move on to some harder stuff. This is an extract from Slipknot - Psychosocial. its not too difficult but it will help you get used to playing normal notes and palm mutes in the same riff. Psychosocial is also in a completely different tuning, so I'll tabing under standard tuning but I'll run over different tunings later on in the lesson.
       . .   . .        . .   . .
Key S - Slide Once you've got the hang of it, there's not really anything more advanced with this technique, but heres an excercise I've made up for the lesson which may help so. Here goes.
     . .     .     .     . .
Key H - Hammer-on

Pinch Harmonics

Pinch Harmonics is deffinately one of the harder techniques in this lesson, and probably the longest to perfect. Pinch Harmonics or 'Squelies' are pretty complicated to create so don't worry if you don't get it straight away. It takes time. So here goes. The main ways to perform Pinch harmonics is to either have your thumb drag behind you pick or plectrum and lightly touch the string after it has been played or picked or whatever. The other way is to lightly touch the string with the palm of your picking hand after the string has been played. Well I prefer useing the palm technique on the thicker strings and the thumb behind pick techniques on the thinner strings but you can use whatever you want. So lets put the two techniques together, and try and play something. Here is the bridge to Bullet for My Valentine - Scream Aim Fire.
     . .  . .  . .  . .     . .  . .  . .  . .
Key 3* - Pinch Harmonic on third fret Pinch Harmonics can be played wherever across the fretboard, and as you will probably find it's easier on the thinner strings than it is on the thicker but practice makes perfect. I also find it easier to either bend or use vibrato on the string while performing a pinch harmonic, I just find it easier that way.

Gallop And Tremolo Picking

This is pretty easy to get down, once you can get used to alternative or tremolo picking. Gallop picking is widely used among bands like metallica and can make a slow song sound much more upbeat. All it is is triplets of notes played simultaniously. An example of this is Slayer - Raining Blood.
there's not really anything else that's special you can do with this, it's just a good technique to know and it really does liven up a song. If you want learn some songs with this technique look into a band called Lamb of God, they have some good examples in their songs.


If you want to learn about this in depth then check my lesson on it. The main concept is striking strings with your fingers instead of playing the strings. This is a great technique to know for solos so it's worth a look into. Here is an example from the solo of Metallica - One.
      T        T        T        T

      T        T        T        T

      T        T        T        T

      T        T        T        T
Key T - Tap You use your right hand to strike the 19th and 20th frets and your left hand to hammer on to the 15th fret. I'm not going to stay on this subject too long as I already have a lesson on it.

Sweep Picking

Sweep Picking is probably the hardest of the techniques to perfect, even I can't do it perfectly so I can't really Give youy a full lesson, I'll just tell you what I know and add some tips I've been told on this. Well, the hardest part of this is getting both hands synchronised and moving at the same speed. Your picking hand needs to just run over the strings, as hard as it is to, try your hardest not to pick the strings, this is essential if you want to play fast. Your left hand also needs to roll across the fretboard in time with your picking hand. Well there's probably better lessons than mine on this so if you don't understand it, go check some of them out then pop back, if you do, great. Heres something pretty easy to work on it with.
     V V V ^ ^ V V ^ ^ V V
Key V - Downstroke ^ - Upstroke Once you can play this pretty well and at a reasonable speed then we an start moving on to bigger stuff. Lets try hammering-on in the middle of a sweep. Heres just another example I made resembling the other exercise.
     V  V V V       ^ ^  V  V V V       ^ ^
Once you've got it you can extend the sweep across most of the strings, heres an extract from the solo of pray for plagues - Bring me the Horizon.
     V  V V V V V       ^ ^ ^ ^  V  ^ V V V V       ^
Well there you go, that's the 5 main techniques covered. There are still many more techniques I could cover but I still think I've wrote too much. Well I'll leave it here for the moment and I might even write a sequel covering more techniques and delving more into theory and structure. Well that's metal - half covered! I almost forgot, I said I would talk about tunings. Well many different songs use various tunings, so I think I may as well list some for you. Standard - E A D G B e Half Step Down - D# G# C# F# A# D# Drop D - D A d g b e Drop C - C G C F A D Drop B - B F# B E G# C# Drop A - A E A D F# B For Drop A and B it is advisable to get heavy set strings as when loosen it can affect their playability when tuned back to standard. Well there you have it. I've gone through 5 different techniques and 6 different tunings. I'm going to leave it there but keep a look out for a sequel as there is still so much more I could have covered. Well, have fun, happy shredding.
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