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Storm Stenvold >> Lead Guitar Styles >>
Lesson Subject: Lead Guitar Styles
What you learn: Metal Leads
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: Welcome to the Metal Lead Lesson. Thanks for tuning in. We will look at some of the theory, techniques and riffs in this style. Go ahead and load the jam track now.

Storm: Does anyone have a favorite metal player?

SR: Eddie Van Halen.

Storm: Randy Rhoads is one of mine. Ex-Ozzy axeman.

Tom: Slash.

Storm: Great choices, all. Here comes a tab of the backing riff.

Storm: The progression goes A5-A5-F5-F5-A5-A5-F5-G5. 8 bars total. '5' chords are commonly called 'power chords' and are staple of hard rock rhythm guitar.

Power chord

Storm: With the additional notes on the 3rd and 4th strings one can imply the A chord to be an A minor. Also, by listening and comparing notes, we can find 'A' to be the tonal center of the track

Storm: The most fundamental scale to solo over minor chord progressions is the minor pentatonic scale, here rooted on our 'key' note of 'A'. The scale shown highlights an additional note, the 'b5' or 'blues note.' Here come a couple of standard pentatonic riffs.

Storm: The first run is in triplets. The second in sixteenth notes, more high energy. Both are fundamental rhythm patterns to working out leads in the metal style. A technique point on those licks: Pay attention to 'rock' on the 1st finger when crossing strings so that the notes don't run together. Roll up to the tip of the finger when holding down the second string. Use the 'pad' of the finger for the first string.

Storm: If done correctly, you will mute the previous string using just your left hand technique.

Storm: This tab shows a fingering for the F chord. Because it is in the riff this opens open some additional color notes. The additional note, 'F' or 'b6' is highlighted.

Storm: Then the G chord. Again, in 5th position so we can find additional notes not in our starting blues scale. In this case 'B' or '2' is highlighted.

Storm: The resulting scale is the Natural Minor scale or Aeolian mode. Very common to the metal style. The additional notes to the pentatonic, '2' and 'b6' are highlighted. They are highlighted in the tab but not on the neck, I see. Highlight them in your mind's eye! Same with the previous diagrams. The notes mentioned have a parenthesis in the tab. The additional notes of the natural minor give us new choices for our soloing. Here is an extension of the previous pentatonic licks.

Storm: This one has a nice stretch. From 5th position reaching to the 10th fret. Some of the typical moves in metal soloing next.

Storm: First I would mention attitude. Don't be afraid to be over the top! Not sloppy, but play with attitude. I don't think you can over-do-it in metal! An important point is vibrato. In the last example, notice that the vibrato is very pronounced and wide. Almost a half-step of pitch change.

Storm: The next tab and sound clip demonstrate differing vibratos. The first note's vibrato is subdued, next more pronounced, VERY PRONOUNCED!!, and then finally using the vibrato bar for vibrato. Using the vibrato bar for vibrato (make sense, doesn't it?) is a trait of David Gilmour and Brad Gillis. Another use in metal for the vibrato bar is for 'dips' and 'dives'.

Storm: A 'dip' is played by depressing the bar, striking the note while releasing so the sound 'scoops' up. A 'dive' is simple depressing the bar to never-never land. Think VH's 'Eruption'. Also called a 'Dive-Bomb'. Here's a video clip of the phrase.

Storm: Another cool technique is palm muting.

Storm: Laying the side of the palm against the strings at the bridge gives a 'choppy' or 'stacato' sound that can add a different dynamic to your phrases.

Storm: And another cool technique and sound is 'artificial' or 'pinch' harmonics. Also called a 'pinch'. Use the side of your thumb to catch or 'stun' the string in the same motion as the downstroke of your pick. Also called a 'squeal'. Experiment with the position of your picking hand will picking the same note. The harmonics change and when you here a new harmonic work on it until you can reproduce it strongly.

Storm: Finally a sweep lick.

Storm: 'Sweeping' or economy picking is using the same pick motion across two or more strings. The notes from the 5th to 1st string are all one downstroke. Then alternate picking until the 1st to the 5th string is all one upstroke.

Storm: Many notes, little picking, very fast. Yngwie Malmsteen is a master 'sweep' picker. A fusion player named Frank Gambale may be the king of technique. Now a standard way to organize scales for many metal players, 'three note per string' scales.

Storm: These are the same notes of the Natural Minor scale, now arranged with three notes on each string. The advantage, while adding a couple of notes to the range, is that it simplifies picking and pattern creation because of the repeating pattern of notes.

Storm: With practice, it is one of the fastest ways to get around on the neck. Here comes a 3 note clip. A great idea to build speed in this and other 3 note patterns is to practice hammer-on and pull-offs

Storm: Start slow. And keep all the notes even in rhythm. It may be easier to play using hammer-ons and pull-offs, picking just the first note or two on each string. Practice these patterns both ways ideally!

Storm: This is very popular major scale 3-note-per string shape. Played in C, in contains the same notes as A natural minor. The note in parenthesis is the 'functioning' root 'A'. Also try these ascending 2 string patterns. All the same notes but arranged to go 'up' the neck.

Storm: These are some of my favorite shapes. Think of them as 7 different six notes groups. They're great for working on different fingering combinations. And great for moving riffs around the neck and keeping them in key.

Storm: This is a final three-note idea. Arranging the 'Blues' scale three notes per string. The concept can work with any scale. Tough fingering, but your blues playing will sound more metal! Or vice-versa. Finally a couple of more exotic note choices. The Harmonic Minor scale. Very classical sounding.

Storm: And the Phrygian mode. A little more 'Eastern' sounding. Don't be afraid to experiment with different note choices as the power chords common to the metal style are very accepting of exotic note choices.

Storm: Well, that's it for the Metal Lead Lesson. Thanks for tuning in and rockin' out.

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