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> What Should A Metal Guitarist Learn Pt5
Ben Higgins
post Sep 13 2015, 10:36 AM
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What Should a Metal Guitarist Learn pt5

By now, one will have developed some foundation skills in rhythm playing. You'll be able to play chord progressions and use power chords. You'll be able to control unwanted noise and use palm muting to emulate rock and metal riffs.

Speaking of riffs, they're not always formed of just chords. Many riffs use single notes. Whole Lotta Love, Breaking the Law, numerous Iron Maiden songs...

In order to play riffs you're going to need to develop some picking skills. You've already learned how to strum whole chords but picking requires you to make smaller movements in order to pick one string at a time.

There's two basic movements in picking: the down stroke and the up stroke. I introduce you to these movements in the following lesson:

Assuming that you've got down & up strokes sorted, you'll want to combine them. Why? Because playing only down or up strokes will limit you to slow speed.

You simply cannot get past a certain threshold due to the nature of the movement.

However, if you were to play a down stroke followed by an up stroke you have utilised the return movement of the hand. Instead of the hand just returning to position to play another down stroke, you actually use that movement to play an upstroke. You've played double the amount of notes in the same time. Now, after playing the up stroke you can now play another down stroke. And guess what? repeat the process.

You alternate between playing a down stroke and then an upstroke. This process is known as alternate picking. Say hello. Being introduced to alternate picking is like being introduced to oxygen. It is so ubiquitous to guitar playing. Regardless of how important you feel it is to you, it is always there, playing a role in your.. er.. playing.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, dreaming of super speedy licks, let's just bring it back to the purpose of learning alternate picking in the first place. Learning riffs.

Nobody learns alternate picking in the beginning in order to shred. Nobody does. At least not until the internet made it easy for people to leap ahead and play things they weren't ready for. No... for most of us, we want to learn the stuff that sounds cool. That meant learning songs that we liked. We want to crack out those awesome riffs. So, learning how to alternate down and up strokes will let us do that.

The two examples I mentioned above, Whole Lotta Love and Breaking the Law, could both be played with only down strokes. They'll probably sound better for it as well, as a down stroke is a stronger, consistent sound than either all upstrokes or alternate strokes. But there will be riffs that require an alternate approach. So, with that in mind, get a load of video 3 in this lesson I made on riffs and learning how to pick.

Remember there we're learning this not to shred but to play songs. Don't seek out boring scale exercises, they will only make you lose interest. Short, simple riffs like the one in the lesson will keep it musical and hold your interest.

Many Iron Maiden songs require the use of alternate picking. The main riff of Phantom of the Opera at 0:23 is a great example. It takes place on the A string and combines single notes with power chords. Even if you don't learn the entire song, just learning that one riff will help you develop alternate picking.

What songs helped you guys learn how to pick? What riffs did you learn early on that helped you develop as a player? Share them below!

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Sep 13 2015, 10:38 AM

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