Metal Guitar Lessons – Common Picking Techniques
With metal guitar lessons, you really should learn the picking styles that define metal guitar.
Some styles are common among other genres of music, but playing metal on the guitar requires picking techniques that involve high precision, accuracy, and speed.
If you want to become a proficient metal guitarist, you should be aware of these different techniques at the very least. The best method for the attack would be to start with one style and practice along with a metronome. Each time that you feel the effort becoming easier, speed up the tempo by three to five beats per minute.
After you mastered one style of picking for your metal guitar lessons, move on to the next.
So let’s take a look at the most common picking techniques for metal guitar:
(a) Alternate Picking
This is by far the most common technique and simply involves alternating the stroke direction with each pick of the string. For strumming long runs of eighth or sixteenth notes, all of the odd string hits would be downward strokes while the even string hits would be upward strokes.
(b) Circle Picking
This technique is something that most metal guitar lessons don’t touch on but it should really be studied as a great way to achieve super-fast picking.
Circle picking involves using only the muscles in the thumb and first finger to move the pick as opposed to the muscles of the wrist or forearm.
With the pick between your thumb and first finger practice moving the pick in a circular motion. If done correctly, the pick should strike the string once in a downward motion and then again in an upward motion. The difference between this and Alternate picking is the circular motion created with only the thumb and first finger.
(c) Double Down Up
The Double Down Up technique is a mixture of two downward strokes and then one upwards but executed in a very smooth fashion. There should be little to no pause in between each stroke when executed quickly, but a slight pause at each string is needed initially to ensure proper accuracy and technique.
We’ll use the ‘A5’ chord to explain this picking technique for the purpose of our metal guitar lessons.
Press down the ‘D’ string on the second fret as shown above to begin, then we’ll strike the open ‘A’ string with a downward stroke, rest our pick briefly on the next string (‘D’), strike downward on the ‘D’ string, and then strike upwards again on the ‘D’ string.
When beginning this technique, use very precise motions and pause briefly while resting your pick on the next string. Then, when it comes time to speed things up, you’ll have very suave accuracy to heat up those licks.
(d) Finger Tapping
Even though I’m listing this as a picking technique, this one doesn’t even involve a pick! Finger tapping is the action of sounding notes by using both hands to “tap” on the strings. A good example of this technique is the famous guitar solo “Eruption” by Van Halen.
For our metal guitar lessons, here’s an example where you hold down a root note with your first finger and then tap additional notes with the same hand’s ring finger and the opposite hand’s first finger.
Now, this tab might look daunting, but it’s executed very simply. Keep your first finger of your fret hand planted on the third fret of the ‘G’ string and then tap the same string on the seventh fret with the first finger of your opposite hand. Then tap the fifth fret of the same string with your fret hand (with your first finger continuously planted in its original spot).
The timing of the taps will come with practice. Try this technique slowly to begin and with more metal guitar lessons, you’ll find yourself improving.
*Advanced Technique: Sweeping
If you’ve heard anything about playing guitar or playing metal, you might be familiar with the term “sweeping”. Now, sweeping isn’t a beginner’s style by any means. It involves moving your fingers so quickly from one edge of the fretboard to the other that only one clean sweep of the guitar pick,
like a single strum, is needed to make every single note sound. It’s quite impressive when done correctly,
keep the focus of your metal guitar lessons on the picking styles mentioned and you should be in good shape to learn this advanced technique later.