Introduction To The World Of Metal Pt.1

Real simple techniques and tips for playing generic metal. Parts 2, 3 and for are coming soon!

Ultimate Guitar
Metal is a very broad genre of music and is often misunderstood, so instead of teaching death metal or thrash, I teach the basics of most metal sub-genres.


Keeping your guitar tuned is a must if you want to sound good, but changing your tuning can really change the sound of your guitar! Metal is not defined by a specific tuning. Some people say that you need to play ion certain tunings to play metal, well I call B.S. Use what ever one you prefer and you don't have to limit yourself to one tuning. Some of the tunings are: (Tunings are in order from Highest to lowest, and strings are in order from thickest (low E or 6th string) the highest (high E or first string))
  • Standard (E, A, D, G, B, E) (Alice In Chains*) *maybe
  • Drop D (D, A, D, G, B, E)
  • Half-Step Down (D#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#) (Metallica)
  • Drop C# (C#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#)
  • D Tuning (D, G, C, F, A, D) (Children Of Bodom)
  • Drop C (C, G, C, F, A, D)
  • C# Tuning (C#,F#, B, E, G#, C#) This is my favourite
  • Drop B (B, F# , B, E , G#, C#)
  • C Tuning (C, F, A#, D#, G#, C) (In Flames)
  • Drop A# (A#, F, A#, D#, G#, C) There are more tunings that go lower, but I'll leave those for you to discover yourself.

    Palm Muting

    Palm muting a real simple technique that gives your playing a bit more of a percussive sound. You do this by lightly muting the strings with your strumming hand. Here is an example I used from when I first learned how to palm mute. (It also works with drop tunings) (P.M.) means palm mute). This is a very popular technique across many genres.
         P.M.    P.M.    P.M.   P.M.     

    Power Chords

    There is a specific definition for power chords, but I don't know it. I think of power chords like this, a chord played over only two or three strings. Here is a few examples.
    Please note that there are WAY more power chords than this. Examine you favorite songs.
  • 88 comments sorted by best / new / date

      .... you missed a few (a lot) things...
      More than anything else, the one thing that is really missing is any sort of knowledge. music, writing, teaching, etc on the part of the writer. I mean, he doesn't even know what a power chord is? The writer clearly didn't put any effort into background research (as evident by power chords and the list of bands in each tuning) or any sense of organization of the piece itself. Where is the quality control?
      Whenever your article includes "but I don't know it", that's bad. You should probably leave the teaching to someone who does know it.
      Maybe it's just me but why the **** is Alice in Chains in the Standard tunning and Metallica in the Half step down when Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Anthrax and another well known bands are the ones who play standard tunning and alice and chains are the ones who play half step down? XD And why is that palm muting and power chords introduce to metal? And who the **** writes this articles? xD
      TTP Penguin
      I can't comment for the other bands listed, but 'tallica play everything half step down live.
      lol they record in standard tuning at least until black album. The reason they play half step down live is because James is no longer a young boy to sing in the pitch he used to.
      yeah, standard tunning is pretty much every heavy metal band except Alice in Chains (who plays D# Standard and Drop C#)
      Chugging open notes would have been a nice thing to include in this article as well. Chugging is very metal!
      Face R1pper
      No, chugga-chuga is for deathcore emo kids.
      That's probably one of the most ignorant comments I've seen lately, other than some of the things Dave Mustaine has said....
      Face R1pper
      And yet somehow you still can't disprove it.
      Sure I can. All kinds of metal bands aside from deathcore use chugging. Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Megadeth, Trivium, At The Gates, should I go on?
      Face R1pper
      Yes you should, because I can't think of any Death or At the Gates songs that are dominated by chugging. I don't listen to those other bands so I can't say much about them. There might be a couple on Slaughter of the Soul though but I don't really feel like double-checking that. Chugging can be present in some metal songs but never for very long and it is certainly not an important part of heavy metal music.
      I never said anything about music being "dominated" by chugging, just that they have chugging incorporated in their music. Learn to read moron. With that being said, I'm done trying to talk sense to an idiot. It makes me look stupid.
      Face R1pper
      Are you ESL? Maybe you misunderstood yourself and if that is the case I can understand that. You said "Chugging is very metal!", implying that it is important. Meaning that songs will exist where chugging is a dominant technique within its structure. This is true in emo deathcore bands and other punk-leaning bands, but you would rarely hear a heavy metal song that utilizes monotonous chugging for more than a few measures. And most skilled musicians wouldn't even bother with it at all.
      Chugging is very metal in the sense that it sounds metal and heavy. It does not necessarily mean that it must be a dominate part of the music, but it still is important. Get a clue, idiot.
      Face R1pper
      And that is the problem with your statement. It doesn't sound metal. Chugging sounds like incompetent punks who can't figure out how to write a melody or play outside of the octave that they are currently in, so they just grunt and chug on the same chord while trying to look like badarses so they can hide the fact that they can't really write music. If chugging was as important as you say it is, there would be people that were known for their quality chugging. But no good heavy metal band is known for chugging. You don't hear anybody saying something like "Wow! Kai Hansen is such a great guitarist, he's a master at chugging!". And that is because no decent heavy metal guitarist would waste his time chugging if he could actually write something that sounds better and requires more skill to play.
      How does it not sound metal? Of course no one uses chugging by itself to make cool music. It's used in conjunction with other techniques to make metal songs, and therefore has a critical role. Go actually listen to some metal and figure it out.
      Face R1pper
      I just described why it doesn't sound metal in the first paragraph of my previous post. One thing that really irritates me is when people talk about metal-based music and punk-based music as if it is the same thing. And chugging is characteristic of punk based music. Most metal bands don't use chugging, and those who do use it very little to avoid the dull monotony of it.
      Go listen to the song "Bleed" by Meshuggah and tell me that chugging is not metal. Lots of chugging there and it sounds awesome. Just because you don't like chugging does it mean that it's automatically no longer a metal technique. Get over it.
      When you say you hate 'chugging', or properly known as palm muting, in the deathcore style, are you on about breakdowns? Then I would agree with you that that sound is annoying, some people may like it but others like yourself not so much. I have no problem with that, I don't really have any interest in the genre either. But to say palm muting, 'chuggin', isn't metal is a little silly. Take bands such as Black Sabbath, some Led Zeppelin songs, Metallica, Slayer, Lamb of God, Machine Head, Trivium, Pantera (the list goes on). They all use palm muting within their music. Palm muting gives an aggressive, percussive sound which lends itself nicely to aggressive genre's of music like punk and metal. Both of which are genre's filled with angst and agression. Since palm muting is a technique it can be implemented into your playing as and when you wish. Not only chugging on one note, which if I'm not mistaken is what you don't seem to like to much?
      I'd like to point outthat you get various stuff with metal, it's not just anger and angst.
      Don't we all mean to say palm muting, last time i checked that was the proper term for "chugging", and yes palm muting is very important to metal.
      "There is a specific definition for power chords, but I don't know it." Stopped reading there... dear christ if you don't know how to define a power chord then what the hell are you doing writing guitar articles.
      i feel like this article addresses some weird, nonexistent audience who already knows how to palm mute and do power chords but somehow needs telling that these two techniques are used in metal.
      Wow, just wow. Not trying to be a bad guy, but, God, where is the quality control. And why is this lesson highlighted on the homepage. As a metal head myself, I'm slightly appaled by this. Apparently, we are defined by tunings (which in truth, every genre does, even pop). Chugs and *shudders* power chords. I think this beginners lesson takes it tag a little too seriously. EDIT : 'Please note that there are WAY more power chords than this.' Oh my dear god.
      Drop D - Avenged Sevenfold Drop C# - Trivium (on the album "in waves") Drop C - Bullet for my Valentine Drop B - Slipknot, 5FDP ....just to name a few that you missed...
      5FDP is actually playing in B Standard (Baritone tuning)
      Actually, they just play on 7-string guitars. BEADGBE. But yes, Bariton tuning is as close as you can get on a 6-string.
      They usually play on 6 strings. Live they might use 7's because some of the solos are recorded on guitars with more high range. I have never zeen Zoltan with a seven string. Jason has (had) at least two, but seeing him with his 6 string explorer with 5FDP is no rare sight.
      None of these bands are metal.
      I'd say all those bands have enough metal aspects to be considered metal.
      A7x are hard rock, their first 2 are metalcore Trivium you could make a case for BFMV are Nu-Metalcore (Which means it's not like oldschool metalcore IE. Converge, Botch) Slipknot are Nu-Metal 5FDP are hard rock
      So frick'n literal. Maybe someday you'll understand the concept of sub genres and that bands and even songs can fit multiple genres. A7X has at least 1 country song, are they suddenly country when they play that? Most people realize that Metal covers a lot of ground including the sub genres you mention, and including a lot of the harder rock. Here's the first hint for you--if the genre has "metal" in the name, then it's included when people talk about metal. Are you going to try to tell us that filet mignon is not beef because it's steak? Get a life.
      How much metal do you/have you actually listened to beyond Iron Maiden, Sabbath, and Metallica? I'm going to go out on a limb say I know a lot more about the various metal genres than you. I also can't see you're arguing about some you're objectively wrong about. Who cares if A7x are hard rock? Doesn't that make them any less enjoyable for some one who likes their music? I'm shit at arguments, so if someone wants to come in and acutally refute this guys "points," be my guest.
      link no1
      Why is there a guy saying what is and isn't metal? Oh yea, this is UG...Elitists are like rats here...
      Not being elitist bro, I just want things to be classified correctly. I'd expect the same response if I referred to; say Green Day as hardcore-punk.
      if avenged sevenfold is hard rock so is the black album, whether there any good or not is your own opinion, personally I enjoy a few of there songs but my interest interest in metal tends to lie in more technical territory (mastodon, tool, dream theater, animals as leaders, high on fire, lamb of god). We all have our own tastes when it comes to metal but to say a band that uses as many metal tropes as avenged sevenfold is just ignorant.
      It's important to realise that majority of people looking for "metal" lessons will fans of metalcore, thrash, heavy metal, hard rock. This is an ongoing argument on UG and it's disturbing how pedantic, childish and elitist metal fans are. Quite ironic as many(though not all) metal bands are very dull rhymically and melodically.
      I think this article is great. I mean, if it was a deliberate joke, that is. Because I laughed. Otherwise...
      This is horrible. It tells nothing about metal, it doesnt even tell you what power chords are, it just says "metal uses alternate tunings". It basicly says everything that anyone who has ever touched a guitar and wants to play metal already knows.
      This is a bit too plain for a 1st part. Plus,it's not gonna fully suit someone,who's experienced in guitar playing,but is new to metal. Also,a little note for you: Despite that you are right about the tunings,you could've given more "alternative tunings" that can be used in metal. For example,DADGAD. It may seem not to be used in metal,but it could be used. Led Zeppelin DID use it,and it wasn't out of place,even though Led Zeps are not quite metal(they're more of a hard rock/blues/world music band that influenced metal).
      UG, please stop putting up such articles on your landing page. It gives a terrible impression.
      Alice in Chains plays in Eb standard. Also, this article is basically missing 90% of what it needed. Edit: "There is a specific definition for power chords, but I don't know it. I think of power chords like this, a chord played over only two or three strings. Here is a few examples." Powerchord is the popular term for any chords that includes the first and fifth interval. It can be used for situations where either a major or a minor chord are used (due to its lack of a 3rd). There, I just included more relevant musical information than 90% of your article. The only good part really was your discussion of tunings, which really isn't something that should be included in an article about "Intro to Metal" (with an implication of intro techniques).
      You went through all that trouble just to completely botch the simple point you were trying to make, so not really relevant musical information.
      Jerry Cantrell from AiC goes as far to say that half-step is "Standard Alice Tuning"
      those tunings were very off. lol COB is drop C. inflames are drop A# and majority of metallica is just standard..?
      In Flames have used alot of C tuning (C standard). It's clearly used on Reroute to Remain, and probably on some of their earlier songs. Metallica have used several tunings, and Children of Bodom have used D standard if I remember correctly. Tunings don't matter that much if you ask me. Some people tend to make a much bigger deal out of it than necessary.
      link no1
      Children of Bodom used D tuning. They started using drop C with 'Are you dead yet?'. I don't know what tuning they used after that album since I don't really like their last 2 albums. Metallica has played in quite a few tunings.
      So al I need to play metal is an alternate tuning, power chords and palm muting?...
      Fucking bunch of no alls on here hey! Go pack someone's trolley. Then go back home a play your guitar you masters off the fretstards. Give people a ****ing break. If you know all this stuff why are you clicking on. Yes it's not the best lesson around but he had a go. Constructive criticism hey not ****ing tear his guts out. Wankers. While your at it spell check my comment for me cause your an English master aswel as a fretstard master and I'm to ****ing lazy.
      i like it, i just think that ug needs to screen a little. then maybe give these guys a little feedback so they can improve. that way we dont have this shit going on instead of actual progress with a damn guitar in my hand. and im to lazy 2 .....spell check it yourselfs. gday
      i can't shrug my shoulders enough! i can't say whaaaaat enough! for some inexplicable reason i keep coming back here to find myself shaking my head in disbelief????? this site needs a medic in a hurry!!!
      The site? No. This article? Yes.
      the reason i say this is simply because there is no reason this "lesson" should have made it past the first person who reviewed it! which obviously didn't happen. to make matters worse it ends up on the landing page and gives the impression that you will be getting a guitar lesson in a specific genre of music with more to follow as this had pt.1 in it's title. only to find a completely useless article written by a youngster who was trying share what he knew about metal guitar. hopefully he learns from this mistake and waits until he is a bit more knowledgeable before he tries to impart his wisdom on others again via the net. however he is as i said a youngster. and the people that run this site should be a little bit more professional when it comes to quality control,for the users sake. but most importantly the advertisers who pay them good money.. the content on this site after all is what keeps us coming back. isn't it?
      There's no way that this is a serious lesson let alone being on the front page...
      i like how in C# tuning, instead of naming a band (behemoth? my dying bride?) the author gives himself as an examlpe.
      Strapping Young Lad "City" One of the heaviest Albums of all-time Is tuned CGCGCe.
      This lesson is stupid as ****. Math lesson equivalent . OK so there are these things called little Ts, they look like this + and they are used to add numbers i think, unless they are crooked like this x and then i think they add the numbers more? Anyway this is how you do math. Oh yeah and some awesome technical math usesletterstoo, only REAL mathheads use letters!
      flip AiC and Metallica on tunings. AiC is definitely half step down
      How is this an introduction to metal? You don't define the genre, you explain that metal guitarists often use alternate tunings, palm muting and power chords yet your descriptions are pretty vague. This "lesson" was way too short and why you picked those particular topics to talk about first I have no idea. Also, if you didn't already know that there are more than 4-5 chords you should still be working on "twinkle twinkle little star" rather than Metallica.