In this month’s column, I’d like to present a few single-note patterns that are designed to fortify fret-hand/pick-hand coordination while they strengthen your overall chops and ability to play fast and clean. In my own experience, I have found that drilling on one or two very specific melodic fretboard shapes works wonders in uncovering technical areas of weakness in both hands.
My students often ask me how they can break away from typical root-fifth power-chord rhythm figures. My solution is to devise a variety of different two-note chord shapes—built from pairs of notes, like root-fifth power chords—that sound great when applied to metal, even though these chord shapes can be used in virtually every style of guitar-based music.
When writing riffs, one of the greatest challenges is to create parts that are not just melodically and rhythmically effective but also memorable and powerful. The best metal riffs—like “Crazy Train,” for example—contain all of the qualities necessary for a great riff: hard-driving power, strong melody and, most importantly, a “star quality” that makes the riff instantly recognizable. This is true for both fast and slow riffs, because a really great riff doesn’t have to be impressive exclusively in a technical sense. This month, I’d like to present a couple of riffs that I believe exemplify these qualities.
In this month’s column, I’d like to show you some simple and effective ways to make your metal rhythm guitar parts sound bigger, heavier and more powerful. These ideas are useful in many different ways, and I think you will find them applicable in live performance as well as when overdubbing and layering tracks.
For this lesson, I’ve put together a series of melodic riffs that could be used for a song’s intro, verse, chorus, bridge or solo section, and that utilize an open low E-string pedal tone. A pedal tone is defined as a long held or rearticulated note around which other parts move. As applied to the guitar, a pedal tone usually represents the tonic, or root note, and is played on the lower, often open, strings.
Vibrato technique is an essential aspect of guitar playing, and one that, unfortunately, many players often overlook or give insufficient attention to. Every great guitar player you can think of—Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Yngwie Malmsteen, to name but a few—has an array of powerful vibrato techniques that makes his playing spring to life with vitality, energy and emotion.
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.