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Metal Rhythm Guitar Domination pt.1

Ok guys. Rhythm playing is probably the MOST neglected skill of any lead guitar player. All to frequently are we quick to start shredding and forget to practice riffing. So, let’s work on this problem then. This month we are going to look at boosting up your endurance. Next month we are going to dig into some writing and theory, so you can come up with some stompin’ riffage! So, I present you with some rules of thumb:


The rule of thumb when playing metal is that you ALWAYS want to down pick whenever humanly possible. Sometimes its much harder to down pick than to alternate pick, but if you can down pick, you sure as hell better do so! Look at this example. Pay careful attention to the picking and how there are many places where alternate picking could be used (because it is easier), but down picking is used instead. The result….a lot of kicking ass!


So you want to be in a metal band huh? Well, you sure as hell better be ready to play really physical and intricate rhythms for over an hour straight or else your going to fall over and die on stage. When playing live, you don’t really get much of a break between songs. With this in mind, you better be in shape for those live gigs, or else you’ll embarrass yourself. So, let us lay down an exercise for endurance. Here are the riffs that are under the solos in “Lost Forever” by Dark Shift. If you can get through this using exclusive down picking at 212 on a metronome without making any mistakes, then you’ve got a great start. If you want to be a rhythm badass however, you need to get it up to the 240-260 bpm range.

A good exercise that I do is to play that section over and over again without stopping. Then, when my arm near cramps up and I’m in pain, I rest. Take 2-3 minutes off and repeat. Treat it like lifting weights. Do 3-5 sets of rhythmic punishment a day, and in a few weeks you’ll have more endurance than a porn star in a gang bang!


When I think of metal rhythm guitar, one band really sticks out in my head…..Iced Earth. When it comes to rhythm guitar playing, there are people who are machines, and then there is Iced Earth. I don’t know about you guys, but when I want a work out, I put in a few Iced Earth discs and just play through song after song. If you want some rhythm chops, learn some Iced Earth.


This is an obvious one. Practice until your parents kick you out of the house and confiscate your guitar. If you’re serious about mastering rhythm guitar, you better put in at least an hour a day. Remember last months column on the 8 hour guitar work out??? Incorporate some rhythm work in it. Remember, rhythm guitar is about endurance and timing.


Ok guys, enough talk. This is what it comes down to. If you don’t practice with a metronome, you’ll be a lousy rhythm player. Don’t believe me? Well, go into a recording studio then and try to double track some intricate rhythm work. As your hourly meter goes up fast and frustration sets in, you’ll realize that maybe you should of practiced to that evil little box that makes noise. JUST DO IT! Don’t make excuses and complain! Just grab that dang thing and work your tail off. Only through hard work and grueling struggle will your rhythm playing improve. When you record your next CD, and your double tracked rhythm parts literally sound like one guitar because they are so tight, it will be worth the pain! Not only that, you’ll blow up your speakers with the sheer amount of power.

A great exercise that I recommend, is to set your metronome to a certain tempo and then improvise rhythms to it. Try and come up with as many different rhythms as you possibly can.

Next month we will go over some different ideas such as modal riffing and such. Good luck to you and practice hard. Build up your endurance because next month we are
going to brutally massacre your picking hand!! :)

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