Metallica’s Kirk Hammett is a giant among men. There isn’t a guitar poll he hasn’t won, and his popularity runs high among fans and critics alike. Few would dispute the contention that he is, with the possible exception of Edward Van Halen, the most influential hard rock/metal lead guitarist alive today.
As a guitar teacher, two of the most common questions I get from students are, “How do I break out of box patterns?” and “How can I learn the notes on the neck without just memorizing each fret?” Over the years, and after working with hundreds of students on these topics, I’ve come up with a few exercises that have proved to be very beneficial to players who find themselves asking these questions.
Over the course of the next few months, I’d like to share my approach to songwriting within the context of my band’s self-titled debut album, Periphery. Specifically, we’ll look at the ways in which I combine unusual chordal patterns and single-note riffs in the quest to create new sounds and unearth fresh musical concepts and ideas.
By the early Sixties, the blues branch of the popular music tree was rapidly thinning. One of the main factors contributing to its demise was rhythm. After decades of dance-floor popularity, triplet-based shuffles and swing grooves had started to be viewed as decidedly old-school, eclipsed by the straight-eighth-note-based rhythms of R&B and rock and roll.
When writing on a standard-tuned six-string guitar, I tend to move my fingers in familiar patterns and reach for the same chords and shapes. To break this habit, I employ a few go-to devices, including using alternate tunings, composing guitar riffs on a keyboard and introducing the extra range of a seven-string guitar into my writing. I used this last method to great effect on the final Emperor album, 2001’s Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise.
In today’s lesson, we’ll be looking at one fingering for the dim7 chord, arpeggio and related scale on the top-four strings of the guitar that you can use to move around the neck, creating four different positions for each of these harmonic and melodic devices in the process.
Last month I introduced an original composition that involved the use of quickly played arpeggios, as well as utilized two-hand tapping techniques to emulate the way in which classical pianists play fluid-sounding arpeggios across multiple octaves.
Chet Atkins made countless recordings as a studio musician, producer and solo artist. Many of his recordings — particularly those of the artists he produced in Nashville, like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers — laid the foundation for early rock and roll.
This month, I'd like to address an essential point of focus for every good metal player: how to best strengthen the pick-hand technique. The examples I'm going to show you cover a wide variety of pick-hand techniques, from using all downstrokes the alternate picking to economy picking and more, offering a systematic approach to building up these different techniques that will allow you to play with more expression, control and power.