Playing Smoothly Changing Strings During Palm-Muted Metal Riffs

How To Smoothly Change Strings During Palm-Muted Metal Riffs


I haven’t spent enough time developing my right-hand (picking hand), especially when it comes to playing fast on the thicker strings. As a lefty, I have found it much easier and more immediately gratifying to work on my legato playing in the fretting hand since that’s my dominant hand.



I have recently resolved to correcting this and now spend time every day strengthening my picking hand technique.


One of the ways I am doing this is by practicing metal riffage similar to that of Metallica and Megadeth.


Ok, enough about me— let’s talk about you for a minute. Through my trials, I have a found a way to help you work on your metal riffage, and the benefits of this lessons are:


1.     Clean up your individual notes on the thicker strings

2.     Improve picking-hand endurance

3.     Improve string-changes at high speeds



Let’s start with Example 1, which only has notes on the sixth string. Make sure you can play this perfectly at a slow speed for 5 straight minutes. If you make a mistake, you’re going too fast. Do not lose patience! It’s better to play something slowly and perfectly for 5 minutes than fast and sloppy for 20 minutes.

playing metal guitar riff


Once the first example is perfect and consistent (at any speed), begin working on Example 2. You can isolate the string change by playing only beats 3 and 4 of the first measure over and over again, pausing between reps.

metal or rock guitar riff


As you get more comfortable with that example, you can begin working on Example 3, which includes a string skip. Spend some time just going back and forth from a palm-muted string 6 open E to a downstroke on the 4th string. The same isolation from the previous example can be applied here as well.

More metal rock riff example


Example 4 is actually a regressive modification of Example 3, meaning that it is a little easier. This is because there are more non-palm-muted notes, giving your right-hand alternate picking a break.

rock guitar music playing riff


Finally, Example 5 is a progressive modification (slightly harder version) of Example 4 because of its string skipping motion.


I hope this has been beneficial for you in your guitar playing journey. Let me know if you have any questions!


About the Author: Eric “Not So Fast!” Bourassa teaches Fort Worth guitar lessons to guitarists of all skill levels. He does not teach jazz but incorporates some jazz harmony into rock, metal, and shred guitar playing.