This thrash guitar lesson will expand on
the guitar lessons above to
look at more complex
using pick groupings (such as triplets), which requires you to be in
firm control of the
release in your pick hand wrist.
So if you're confident with
palm muting and alternate picking at speed, then let's now
push this a step further...
thrash metal speed picking
After going through the two
lessons above, you should know how to position
your picking hand for palm muted riffs.
The most common techniques
in thrash metal involve fast alternate picking (sometimes
tremolo picking) whilst
palm muting. Most often, it's done on one string at a time,
but you can widen your picking sweep over a two-string powerchord for a
Below are a couple of speed
variations of this muted alternate picking.
I've recorded them clean, without distortion so you can really hear the
pick strokes. You should make sure, before you move on, that you can at
least hold a constant alternate picking rhythm on the lowest 3 strings
on your guitar...
As we'll see in this next
exercise, this becomes our rhythmic base to build on how
little thrash metal warm-up to begin with
Nothing overly complex to start with - let's just hammer out the
riff below to
warm up our picking wrist (based on the fast, palm muted,
alternate picking technique from above).
This type of continuous,
"wall-of-noise" scratch rhythm is commonly applied on the lowest
open string (e.g. the low E string) for that deep chugging
undertone. The only downside is,
and I say this as an avid listener of thrash metal, this particular
application is why a LOT of thrash
sounds the same to the casual listener. It's become a bit of a cliché.
Use it to support your music,
use it because it's the easiest option!
those non-muted powerchords as marker points in
between the palm muted wall of noise - this helps to establish an
rhythm, even if your scratch timing in between isn't 100% accurate.
Here's an interesting
technique to use if you're away from that root E
string. Use the same, fast alternate picking, and use the area around
that fret to inject other notes from the bottom 3 strings (or more if
you like). Whilst one finger is occupied on that root string, try to
all your remaining fingers around it to find a melody you
Click the tab to hear.
easiest to use downstrokes for the non-muted
notes in riffs like this.
This helps keep the momentum of attack.
Try mixing that second
exercise with the first - it's common to hear
the second type of pattern used as a kind of interlude, before crashing
back down to that low E powerchord, but don't tie yourself to
traditional dynamics - experiment and mix shit up.
some of your ideas over the drum track below. It's a typical
blast beat with a short interlude. At 50 seconds long, it's a good
initial test for your alternate picking stamina. Loop it in your media
As we looked at in the more advanced palm
muting lesson, we can group
our alternate picking strokes (down-up-down-up etc.) in different
quantities (e.g. triplets - down-up-down) to create short bursts of
is the foundation of rhythm guitar in thrash metal and requires strict
control of the picking wrist to release this burst of tension accurately.
So, time for some self-discipline!
Try experimenting and mixing
up the rhythms to create more dynamic riffs. It's all about grouping
those alternate picking strokes (e.g. in groups of three, four, five
picks etc.) - that's what creates the rhythmic intricacies in the music.
The exercises below should
help you improve your sense of pick timing if you work on them every
day. Listen to the slow examples first, then see how the timing relates
to the up-down pick diagrams and try to replicate it.
will be essential in
building up speed with these.
The black dots
indicate where a non-muted powerchord/diad is played in the pattern.
The black squares
indicate a fully muted stop. Listen to the audio to
get your bearings.
Now it's time to
experiment! This lesson should have provided you
with some good physical picking exercises that define the brutal
nature of thrash metal, that you can now take away and apply your own
Like I always
say: you should
never look for guidance on what to play - that's
ultimately what will single your music out from the rest.
and mixing up
those picking rhythms with the aid of a trusty metronome,
and you'll get to the
level of confidence you need very soon.
Please let others know, cheers...