Similar to the playing of guitar greats Jason Becker and Marty Friedman on that trailblazing album, the riffs I present this month are challenging in that they are meant to be played fast while also covering a lot of fretboard territory. Mastering these riffs will get your chops razor sharp and stronger than ever.
Back in the Eighties, during the heyday of metal, bands like Van Halen, Judas Priest and the Scorpions were releasing incredible, killer albums packed with amazing guitar playing. Today, I feel that the majority of metal is more focused on rhythmic parts with less harmonic movement than what I think of as the approach representative of Eighties-style metal.
Today I want to talk about one of the biggest self-sabotaging mistakes many students make. This silent assassin applies even to some of my most committed students. It goes something like this: I show my student an example. Before I am done with it, he or she student starts to try to play it immediately. This happens more often than not while I’m in the middle of showing them "how to play it." Get it?
To my mind, it’s impossible to become a great metal soloist without having an appreciation of the blues and some of the techniques associated with blues guitar. Learning to emulate the blues guitar techniques of B.B. King, Albert King and all the blues masters is of vital importance to metal as well as blues and rock guitarists, and that is what I would like to explore in this month’s column.
One of the coolest things about contemporary metal is that its harmonic palette is wide open. This month, I’d like to demonstrate a few different examples of rhythm-guitar ideas that jump around harmonically and also feature the incorporation of suspended chords, namely sus2 and sus4 chords.
An essential element in soloing for all guitarists—especially metal players—is the use of legato techniques. The term legato is defined as “smooth and connected,” and a legato sound is generally achieved on the guitar through the incorporation of hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides.
This month, we will continue our modal study by focusing on two essential minor modes, Dorian and Aeolian. Both of these modes can be looked at as “extensions” of the scale that is used most prominently for soloing in metal, minor pentatonic.
The great majority of metal music is based on the Aeolian mode, and in this month’s column I’d like to show you a simple, effective way to take any Aeolian line and change and mutate its character, which entails altering only one note.
In my quest to raise my guitar-playing game to the highest level, I find it essential to devise practice techniques that will push my pick- and fret-hand abilities as far as possible. A great way to go about this is to combine the focus on these technical issues with the creative endeavor of writing original riffs and patterns that will hopefully spark new song ideas.
Aside from the additional heaviness this tuning provides by extending the instrument’s range downward, having the bottom two strings tuned a fifth apart—D to A—enables one to play a root-fifth power chord simply by strumming the two strings open or barring a finger across them at any given fret.