Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro


If you’ve searched for online tutorials or other guides on metal rhythm guitar before, you’ll be familiar with the frustrating lack of information out there.

What information is out there is scattered across the Internet and you’re never sure how reliable it is.

My heavy metal journey started at the age of 12, with bands like Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth having a huge influence on me as a guitarist.

When I first heard albums like Master of Puppets by Metallica and Reign in Blood by Slayer, I was instantly hooked.

With 20 years of playing rock and metal guitar, I’ve spent much of that time developing my knowledge and technique through countless hours of study and research.

This has inspired me to create a comprehensive guide for like-minded guitarists that will pull together the knowledge I have gained and present it in an easy-to-follow structure.

Metal Rhythm Guitar – Starter Guide is exactly that. It will give you everything you need to inspire you, and help you develop as a metal rhythm guitar player.

If you’re just starting out in metal, all the information you need is here.

If you’ve already got the basics covered but want to improve your technique or try out some new concepts you may have missed, this guide is just what you need.

Whatever sub-genre of metal you’re into, this guide will cover all of the essential information you need to know.

Be sure to bookmark this page now so you can easily return whenever you need to.

What You Will Need

  • Electric Guitar
  • Lead
  • Amp
  • Plectrum / Pick (a hard one)
  • Metronome
  • Positive mindset

Click here for a free metronome app for your smartphone / tablet:



Alternatively, you can use this useful and free online metronome to help you get each exercise up to speed:

Some parts of this guide will be challenging to you.

Keeping a positive frame of mind and a consistent, daily practice routine will help you the most when you come across challenges.

It’s easy to get frustrated sometimes, so don’t be afraid to take breaks here and there and come back on a fresh day.

Guitar Settings

A good metal guitar tone starts with your pickup. For an aggressive, biting tone you’ll want to use your bridge pickup at all times.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - Bridge Pickup

You can use the neck pickup when you are soloing.

Don’t forget to make sure your guitar volume is always turned up to the maximum. Further control of volume should be done from your amp.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - Volume Control

The tuning of your guitar should be standard tuning. That is, from low to high: EADGBE. We will cover other tunings later on, but for now, that’s all you need.

Amp Settings

Use these guidelines and pictures to set up your guitar sound. I’m using IK Multimedia’s Amplitube 4 with the Mesa Boogie amp collection.

This is a virtual amp that’s running on my computer and I’ll be using it for all of the examples in this guide.

These settings will also apply in exactly the same way if you’re using a hardware amp.

Gain – Don’t turn up the gain to 11! You’ll want a high level of gain for metal, but not so much that you completely lose your tone.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - Amp Gain Control

50% of a good metal guitar sound comes from your fingers and how hard you choose to hit the strings with your pick. More gain won’t make it sound any better.

Apply a moderate level of gain past the halfway point and experiment until you are happy with it.

Having said that, I do use a bit of distortion from Amplitube’s OverScream pedal (emulation of the popular Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal) in the FX chain.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - Distortion Pedal Settings

Adding some drive to the signal before it goes into the amp can be a good thing sometimes. Just don’t go crazy with it.

Don’t forget – be sure to practice the exercises on a clean setting, too. This will help you identify any mistakes you might be making.

EQ – Keep the EQ setting pretty much flat like I have here. You may want to roll off some of the mids as I have, but you still want to hear the mid range, so make sure not to roll off too much.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - EQ Control Settings

Use your ears and adjust to taste.

Reverb & Delay FX – This is important. Don’t be tempted to use any reverb, delays or any other effect here.

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - No Delay or Reverb

Using any kind of reverb or delay effect is not a good idea when playing metal rhythm guitar as it can take away the power from your playing.

Remember – this is a powerful and aggressive style of playing and you want the guitar sound to be ‘in your face’, not far away in a huge hall!

Of course, there are times when effects are used, but 99% of the time they aren’t needed.

There’s also a chance of the effect covering up your mistakes or bad technique and you’ll want to be very critical of that at all times.

My suggestion is to stay away from FX at the moment and save it for your guitar solos.

Volume – I’ll leave this setting to you. Spare a thought for your neighbors, though…

Metal Rhythm Guitar Intro - Noisy Neighbor

How much of that wall-shaking heavy metal guitar can they really take?!

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Simon Revill

Simon is a guitar teacher, guitar transcriber, and music producer from the UK. As well as writing lessons on guitar and music technology, he also gives online guitar lessons via Skype.

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