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> What Should A Metal Guitarist Learn Pt2
Ben Higgins
post Sep 2 2015, 10:09 AM
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So you've gotten the hang of switching between basic chords and you can strum along to some simple tunes quite confidently. Your metal sense are tingling and you want to satisfy them, right?

Ok, let's delve into the realms of the power chord. A power chord is made up of two intervals - the root note and the fifth. Generally speaking, a chord cannot be considered a chord unless it has 3 different tones but the term power chord has become universally accepted to describe this construction. Power chords can be played with a root, fifth and an octave - so 3 notes each shape or at its simplest form, a power chord can be as little as two notes.

Have a look at the two examples below. The first shows power chords played with 3 notes - root, fifth and octave. This gives a nice, balanced sound.

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This pic shows the same chords but without the octave. People may use this shape because it's a lot easier to move around if playing fast chord changes. Bands like Iron Maiden may use this shape a lot, specifically in faster chord progressions like the verse sections on The Trooper.

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Why use power chords? Well, when you get an electric guitar, amp and start getting involved in using distortion - you'll find that many of those earlier chords shapes you learned can sound a bit messy and indistinct. Those chords, with practise, CAN be used very well in metal but generally in places where there is time to let them ring, and generally only in metal genres where the distortion isn't so absolutely saturated as to render any chord shapes other than power chords pointless.

So, when people started electrifying their music and getting a bit more aggressive, they found that certain chords shapes worked well with the overdriven sound. The riff below is an often used example of an early 'metal' type of riff.

The sound and speed of the riff could only be achieved in that way by using power chords.

Not all guitarists in the heavy blues rock era used power chords with distortion, though. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin still used open chords along with single note lines for many of his riffs but a lot of the bands back then were still using what I call a 'clean sounding distortion'. Ie, it was an overdriven sound, sure, but it wasn't full on distorted.

But then Black Sabbath came along and the role of power chords became clear.

Black Sabbath are like a vending machine for riffs, much of their early stuff is worth learning - if not the whole songs that at least the main riffs.
Paranoid, Iron Man, NIB, Sweat Leaf. Some of them require hammer-on trills so that will be an extra challenge that might want to accept or avoid at this stage, it's up to you. When I was learning riffs I would approximate them the best I could and just simplify anything I couldn't do - that way I could still play along to stuff even if I couldn't nail it 100%. Remember, playing to tracks is constantly honing your timing skills.

Some other easy-ish tracks you might want to look at include:

Breaking the Law - Judas Priest
Running Free - Iron Maiden
Ace of Spades - Motorhead
Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica (ignoring the lead parts)

So, the progression from strumming along to folk tunes and pop is to get a grip on power chords and start learning actual riffs! By now, I'm sort of assuming that you've got yourself an electric guitar and amp - that would be an entire thread on its own, needing input from more than just myself, so we're just going to deal with the physical side of the thigns rather than the material. And, the great thing is, if you do need some guidance on what guitar to get then you're already in the right place - the GMC forum!

I'll see you next time for part 3

Pt 3 can be viewed here

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Sep 6 2015, 10:55 AM

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post Sep 2 2015, 12:42 PM
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thks Ben

good to know !!



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