Pedal-Point Riffs: Metal Rhythm Guitar Basics

A summary of one of the fundamental techniques used in playing metal rhythm guitar.

Ultimate Guitar
There are several fundamental techniques that make up the art of metal rhythm guitar, and while much has already been said on the use of palm-muting, power chords and the like, I haven't seen much material covering the "pedal-point" technique, which is in my opinion just as essential.

While this doesn't always refer to a "true" pedal-point as defined by classical music, the technique sharing the same name in metal describes a riff consisting of a melody line punctuated by a single repeating note, usually an open note on the lowest string.

This technique's main purpose is to elongate a riff, enabling it to cover a greater span of time without adding in too many additional notes or changing the rhythm. One could argue that the same could be achieved by simply palm-muting the most recently-played note in the riff, but this negates the unique sort of "bouncy" feeling that pedal-point riffing provides.

For demonstrated applications of this technique, as well as an example from a full original song, have a look at the following video:

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Thanks for reading/watching. Be sure to stay tuned for more!

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It's also a good idea to sometimes change the pedal point note, to create two "overlapping" melodies. Guitarists should also pay attention to the harmony they are creating, and experiment with different shapes to see which scales fit with a certain pedal point note to achieve a certain feeling.
    Can't wait to try that in my improvisations. A really nice lesson.
    Binary riffing is so freaking br00000talz Joke aside, I don't think binary riffing is pedal pointing at all.
    Frank M
    Thanks for taking the time to share this I really enjoyed the lesson. You sound really great! Frank