Learn how to conquer forearm-punishing riffs of the sort found in everything from early Metallica to Slayer and Megadeth.


Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Strengthen your picking hand.
• Learn forward and reverse gallop rhythms.
• Create brutal riffs in the style of Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Over the last 15 years metal has reached new heights in popularity and splintered into a wealth of different subgenres that include everything from the dissonance of djent to the retro-vibe of ’80s-style sleaze rock. In this lesson we’ll look at the roots of modern metal and dive into the art of thrash rhythm guitar. In the 1980s, three of the biggest names in this then-new style were Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth; each were inspired by British metal bands Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, among others. During this time the rhythms were characterized by extreme speed, brutally heavy riffs, and unabashed shredding solos. Some bands, such as Megadeth and Metallica, also showed progressive influences with extended song arrangements that often juxtaposed acoustic and electric sounds.

We’ll tackle a variety of common thrash rhythms and then apply them to stylistic examples from the bands that I’ve previously mentioned. The first group of examples are aimed at improving picking-hand stamina and speed. They are all based on the 6th string, but feel free to move them around to various other strings or scales.

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Ten exercises to help you master blazing-fast pick runs.


Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Develop a smooth sweep-picking technique.
• Link multiple arpeggios to cover the entire fretboard.
• Explore essential stylistic traits of Jason Becker, Richie Kotzen, and Frank Gambale.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Sweep picking is often seen as one of the most demanding techniques to master on the guitar. Pioneered by such revered 6-stringers as Les Paul, Yngwie Malmsteen, Richie Kotzen, Jason Becker, and Frank Gambale, the technique is used in many different ways in a wide variety of genres.

The basic concept of sweep picking is to use all downstrokes when ascending across adjacent strings and all upstrokes on the descent. Sweep picking has many different applications that include arpeggios and pentatonic, major, and minor scales. The key to this technique is to use a rest stroke on each string, which means after striking a string your pick comes to rest on the next string in a single, smooth motion. This idea is very important for mastering sweep picking.

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Eddie Van Halen didn’t invent tapping, but he certainly popularized it. Learn how to unlock the fretboard with this collection of finger-busting licks.


Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to play extended arpeggios.
• Unlock the secrets of single-finger tapping.
• Create exciting licks using string skipping, four-note-per-string fingerings, and wide intervals.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

A big reason why tapping became so ubiquitous in the ’70s and ’80s was due to Eddie Van Halen’s groundbreaking instrumental, “Eruption.” Ask nearly any guitar player who came of age during that era and it’s likely they can describe exactly where they were when their ears were assaulted with EVH’s insanely fluid flurry of notes. From that moment, a new breed of guitar player was born. Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Reb Beach, Greg Howe, and George Lynch each took the inspiration they got from King Eddie and pushed their own technique to the limits. Guitarist T.J. Helmerich was a big proponent of eight-finger tapping. Check out the video below to get a taste of this mind-boggling technique.

In this lesson, I’ll walk you through 14 licks that cover many different approaches and styles. But before we dig into those, let’s review the physical process: A legato-based technique, tapping uses picking-hand hammer-ons to extend the range of conventionally fretted lines.

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