Metal for Life: Incorporating Different Picking Techniques for Specific Metal Riffs

This month, I’d like to address an essential point of focus for every good metal player: how to best strengthen pick-hand technique. The examples I’m going to show you cover a wide variety of pick-hand techniques, from using all downstrokes to 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.

In FIGURE 1, I play a heavy riff on the bottom two strings only, using downpicking exclusively throughout the entire riff. In each bar, I palm-mute (P.M.) the sixth string but allow the notes played on the fifth string to ring out. This adds contour and dynamics to the line and accentuates the melodic development that occurs as the riff progresses. Notice that it alternates between bars of 4/4 and 5/4, sticking with 4/4 for the last two bars.

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