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.
I understand some of you might find this story's headline (Give Yourself Permission to Be a Musician) a little confusing. Most of you play an instrument, and many of you are serious about following your passion — making guitar playing your profession. So what’s this about permission? Let me explain.
Most of you will probably agree that you often start with an amp setting, tweak as you go through a few other options and then tell yourself that some of the initial settings sounded the best. However, you realize you have a hard time pinpointing exact previous locations of the control knobs. You can get it close, but not exact.
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.
Guitar players are usually on some sort of a mission to improve our guitar tone. For many, this journey never ends. I dare say we're obsessed with it. The point of this blog post is simple, and I’m not going to comment much on the new toys for our guitars. However, I can tell you without any trepidation that the single greatest way to improve your tone is practicing. It might seem simple, but on the other hand, it can take years for us to truly understand it.
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.
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.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that guitar playing is like a winter sport. During the summer, guitarists, like everyone else, divide their time between recreation, work and practice, but when the cold months arrive, they start playing guitar again in earnest. Unfortunately, after a long break, we often find that our skills aren’t quite where they need to be.