Cool Rock Licks (Guitar Lesson)

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David MacKenzie

Cool Rock Licks

David MacKenzie teaches two rock licks inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen and Kirk Hammett of Metallica.

Taught by David MacKenzie in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 12:12Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:23) Lesson Intro In lesson 15 of this series, Dave taught you some E natural minor exercises that can be played across a single string. He also showed you how to play these licks along with a backing track to ensure that your rhythm is steady.

Dave now presents some licks inspired by Kirk Hammett of Metallica and Yngwie Malmsteen. These licks are also played on the two highest strings. Learning these licks will enhance your playing ability in several specific areas. These licks will improve your technique and overall finger dexterity. They will also give you an idea of how to construct your own lead guitar licks.
Chapter 2: (04:08) Kirk Hammett Inspired Lick The first lick taught in this lesson is reminiscent of the repeated lick that is played in the beginning passages of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica. Within this section of the song, Kirk Hammett plays a similar repeating lick over a moving chord progression. This is a common metal technique. Often, a short melody phrase or arpeggio is played over a changing chord progression to build tension. Kirk Hammett's version of the lick is played in the key of E minor. Dave breathes some new life into his version of the lick by transposing it to the key of B major.

Practicing the Lick

Practice this lick very slowly at first to work on rhythm, and proper technique. Play along with a metronome set to a very slow speed to make sure that you are keeping the rhythm clear and steady. Play as slow as Dave demonstrates at 02:15 in the lesson video. Then, gradually work up your speed by one metronome setting at a time. Do not advance to the next setting until you can play the lick flawlessly at the current setting.

You can play this lick in a variety of different rhythmic groupings. You can play it in triplets like Kirk Hammett, or you can play it in eighth notes or sixteenth notes. Altering the rhythm will drastically change the character of the lick. Play the lick back to back in triplets then sixteenth notes. As you will notice, the rhythmic accents occur in different places when played with these two rhythmic groupings.

Adding Palm-Muting

Some light palm-muting can be applied to this lick. This will give the lick a more marked, staccato time feel. Use a light palm-muting technique as opposed to a full palm-mute. There are various degrees of palm muting. You must experiment with these various degrees of muting in order to determine which is most appropriate within the context of what you are playing. Lightly mute the strings with the right-hand palm like Dave suggests.
Chapter 3: (07:36) Yngwie Malmsteen Inspired Lick Yngwie Malmsteen is famous for playing lead lines that follow a construction very similar to many melodies written in the Baroque and Classical Period. He cites Niccolo Paganini, the Italian virtuoso violinist and composer as one of his greatest influences. In the "Articles" section of JamPlay, you can read an article about the Malmsteen / Paganini connection written by Nick Greathouse.

The lick that Dave teaches in this lesson is played in a neo-classical style. The B harmonic minor scale is used to create a melody reminiscent of the Bach Fugues. Sequential patterns that imply the diatonic triads in this harmony are played throughout both phrases of the lick. In bar 11, the lick steps outside of the harmonic minor tonality to the B Phrygian tonality. This measure implies a C major triad, the II major chord in this tonality.

At this point in your guitar training, you are probably unfamiliar with the harmonic minor scale and the music theory pertaining to it. For more information about this scale, check out the harmonic minor section available in JamPlay's Scale Library. This section of the website can be accessed through the "Teaching Tools" button on the left-hand side of the homepage.

Practicing the Lick

This lick is much more complicated than the Kirk Hammett style lick discussed in the previous scene. It consists of two separate phrases. When practicing and learning this lick, work on a phrase at a time. Breaking up something difficult into smaller pieces will help you learn the material faster.

Do not deviate from the left-hand fingering that Dave demonstrates. The majority of the first lick is played within 12th position. You only need to stretch out of 12th position to fret one note in this lick. The note A# is played at the 11th fret of the second string. This note should be played with the first finger.

Use strict alternate picking when playing this lick. This will help you play the lick with a smooth legato feel. Applying alternate picking will also allow you to play the lick at your maximum tempo.

Second Phrase of the Lick

Dave demonstrates the 2nd part of the lick at 03:48. This portion is based on sequences that outline a specific triad in each measure. Here is a complete harmonic analysis of the chords implied by the licks in this phrase:

Measure 6: Bm (i)
Measure 7: Em (iv)
Measure 8: A major (VII) This measure implies the B Aeolian (B natural minor) tonality.
Measure 9: D major (III)
Measure10: G major (VI)
Measure 11: C major (bII) This measure implies the B Phrygian tonality.
Measure 12 (First Two Beats): Em (iv)
Measure 12 (Last Beat): F# major (V)
Measure 13: Bm (i)

The chord progression outlined by this phrase begins with a simple i to iv movement in B minor. Next, in measures, 8-11 a circle of fifths progression occurs. For more information about circle of fifths progressions, check out lesson 16 from Steve Eulberg's Phase 1 series of lessons. In measures 11 and 12, a iv V i cadence is established. Typically in the baroque style, the iv V i progression is used to create a perfect authentic cadence at the end of a piece. This type of cadence gives a piece a definite sense of finality.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

LivingInMinorLivingInMinor replied

having a tough time memorizing

Alexander10Alexander10 replied


Bradley.ConwayBradley.Conway replied

Me too! James Hetfield is definitely my biggest influence \m/

ahatfieldahatfield replied

I am not new to the guitar, however I am just finally getting down to learning how to play the electric. This was the funnest lesson yet. Thanks a bunch. I look forward to the day my hard work finally pays off.

ahatfieldahatfield replied

Love it even more...

RemekRemek replied

Very cool. Even if you hadn't said Hammet, I would have immediately thought Hammet. The exercises are definitely great, I am seeing improvements daily. Thanks DMac!

moqutparmoqutpar replied

Was wondering if you were playing staccato on purpose? I think it sounds better when I let the notes hold a little... just curious.

mridumridu replied

Hi Dave i love these Exercises but the problem is i start to get wrist pain after some practice. What should i do? Please advise Me \m/

shamifamilyshamifamily replied

Hi Dave, this Malmsteen lick is the coolest lick I have played so far, I can go on and on playing it. I really like you teaching style. Is there any chance of giving us another ten bars so we can extend it. Also I noticed this is in a 3/4 time signature. I dont quite understand time signatures as well as I should. Is there any chance of covering this in some lesson.

LivingInMinorLivingInMinor replied

How did you memorize it?

davidkrauszdavidkrausz replied

Very first thing I tried just now on JamPlay. Love it!

fire dragonfire dragon replied

Dave you are like a guitar saint !! Humble , strong , kind and frickin cool dude !! This is the kind of stuff I have always wanted !! I like Blues , Rock . Latin , Classical and to be able to put them all together , way cool !! This is where my soul comes to life !! I thank you for being their !! You could of easily bailed out of life , instead you chose to embrace it !! No long story but I have died before and came back !! Their is another beautiful place to be and all is beyond well their , but by coming back for awhile I look at things alot different , simplified , as it is simple , do the best we can and enjoy every moment , its precious without all the mind crap !! Thats why I appreciate you , what you've been through , embracing life and then sharing a joyful path with others , your bad ass man , with the heart of an angel !! Aloha my friend , Rich

CaczterCaczter replied

haha loved this lesson, for just a few seconds i was pouting like Malmsteen... Cheers Dave!

AllTubeAmpAllTubeAmp replied

.....extremely cool sounding exercise Dave, thanks!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

thanks! much appreciated!

jeroenvanderputjeroenvanderput replied

I've tried it and it's working for me. Still have to try doing it with alternate picking though. See my progress here:

marshall laneymarshall laney replied

Thats some sweet sounding playing Dave loved was playing along - a little slower got to get to memorize it ! The 1st lick based on Kirk reminded me a bit of that classic Johnny Winetr lick he uses I'm sure you know the one. Great stuff ! ML

YucatanEdYucatanEd replied

OMG I have just played my first Yngwie lick! Nice.

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

lol!!! good job ed!!!!

adris8adris8 replied

Hey Dmac! Just properly memorized and did ur lesson today and its one of my favorites lol. Cool licks im gnna practise on lol. Btw the Kirk Hamme lick is from From Whom the Bell Tolls right? Ty lol.

tangohuntertangohunter replied


bany_rockbany_rock replied

heyy very cool Dmack, even when i consider myself already a intermediate-player i ┬┤ve really enjoyed starting from beggining here in jam play, i realy enjoyed this lesson that sounds too familiar in my head... maybe being [email protected] " my email ,explains that lol, keep the good work! greetings from Monterrey mexico

mattmc12001mattmc12001 replied

Dave i cant quite get the palm mute it just sounds like a completely musted string any suggestions?

kevinacekevinace replied

I'm certainly no D-mack, but try moving your hand away from the net and more towards the bridge. This will let your hand mute the strings a little, but not completely silence them. The closer you move to the bridge, the more sustain you'll get. But don't move too far or else you're going to have openly ringing strings. I hope this helps!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

thats good advice! well done! thanks for the help! :)

duayneduayne replied

Thanks Dave for the great lesson, loved the Malmsteen riff very fun to practice. It sounds so cool!! Peace and Jam :~)

caseharr33caseharr33 replied

This lesson just inspired me to find some Paganni compositions and just sit back and enjoy them with some new found knowledge of the old masters being brought to the modern age!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

thats cool that it inspired you to look at that side/genre of music! you will much wiser for that journey i am sure. its good to have an appreciation for all types of music i think.

lukacar24lukacar24 replied

this lick owns :D

jasgp78jasgp78 replied

Don'tknow if you know it, but the Malmsteen inspired lick sounds much like Muse's "Plug in Baby" opening riff. :) Wonderful

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

no, did'nt know that. cool, to see it in another genre!

eickeick replied

dave what is gonna help me most with sound transisioning between that i dont sound so choppy. is it just speed that makes it all flow together.

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

be patient! speed and accuracy will help you, but as long as your learning where the note are, that will bring it all together. just keep at it. practise as good of techniques as you are taught, and it will come along just fine. rock on!!!

vanslash1010vanslash1010 replied

awesome lesson dave! i use the malmsteen lick as an exercise all the time and i also noticed that it sounds good with tremolo picking:)

liamhef2008liamhef2008 replied

Thanks very very much for this :D

liamhef2008liamhef2008 replied

LOL Just realised there was tabs with this video like 30th time to rewind it ..had almost the whole first part done by myself :)

bosbornbosborn replied

Thanks. Im new to guitar and this video is really helping my picking and finger movement..

roblefroblef replied

Fantastic lesson. Really like the licks and the practice it gives my fingers. I'd love to hear some backing chords for the Malmstein, especially, so I can play the riff in contxt. I learn much more when I can pull out GarageBand and record the backing stuff, then jam all over the place. Again, thanks for a great lesson!

chingolingochingolingo replied

great exercise and it sounds pretty cool when your practicing thanks

nick2000nick2000 replied

like the malmsteinesque riff....sounds great once you get it down you can concetrate on flying all over the neck with it.... awesome finger exersciser too...and great speed and tech builder Thanks dave this is worth the months sub price right here in this vid

ronin808ronin808 replied

Great Job!! Im liking the malmstein riff. any chances of doing a song oe 3 by him in the future?

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied

i will look into it, although it would be a huge lesson, with as many notes as malmsteen plays in one song!!! lol!

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In his Phase 1 series, David MacKenzie will walk you through the basics of rock guitar.

About the GuitarLesson 1

About the Guitar

David discusses the parts of the guitar. He also gives you some basic techniques to get you started.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Power ChordsLesson 2

Power Chords

In this lesson, David introduces basic power chords. Great fun for beginners!

Length: 10:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Basic Chord ProgressionsLesson 3

Basic Chord Progressions

David introduces some basic chords and chord progressions.

Length: 14:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Notes, Chords and ArpeggiosLesson 4

Notes, Chords and Arpeggios

David provides a brief explanation of what notes, chords, power chords, and arpeggios are.

Length: 8:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Speed and CoordinationLesson 5

Speed and Coordination

This lesson is all about increasing your speed and coordination. David demonstrates basic picking exercises.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chord ExercisesLesson 6

Chord Exercises

David MacKenzie presents a mysterious sounding chord exercise. This exerices is designed to improve right hand technique.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Practice and DisciplineLesson 7

Practice and Discipline

In this short lesson David talks about practice, discipline, and how you should apply yourself when learning and mastering the guitar.

Length: 6:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Double StopsLesson 8

Double Stops

Double stops can bring new life to your rhythm and lead playing. David provides a short tutorial on what double stops are and how they can be used.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Major ChordsLesson 9

The Major Chords

David covers the basic major chord shapes. Every guitarist must learn these basic chords.

Length: 18:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Minor ChordsLesson 10

The Minor Chords

David MacKenzie walks you through the basic minor chords. Expand your knowledge of chords with this fun-filled lesson.

Length: 8:15 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 11

Major Scales

Major scales are an essential component of all styles of music. They can also be used as a great way to orient yourself with the fretboard.

Length: 32:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Major Scale JamLesson 12

Major Scale Jam

David MacKenzie explains how to practice the major scales along with a fun backing track.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Minor ScalesLesson 13

The Minor Scales

David MacKenzie proceeds to an in-depth discussion of the minor scales.

Length: 15:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Minor Scale JamLesson 14

Minor Scale Jam

David MacKenzie shows you how to play the natural minor scale over a rockin' JamTrack.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
One String ExerciseLesson 15

One String Exercise

David demonstrates an excellent one-string exercise in this lesson. This exercise will improve your dexterity and knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 16:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Hammer-Ons and Pull-OffsLesson 16

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are techniques that enable you to play with a smooth, legato feel.

Length: 8:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Basic BendsLesson 17

Basic Bends

David MacKenzie gives a crash course on bending in this lesson. Bends can add a lot of soul to your playing.

Length: 16:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool Rock LicksLesson 18

Cool Rock Licks

David MacKenzie teaches two rock licks inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen and Kirk Hammett of Metallica.

Length: 12:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Hammer-On ExerciseLesson 19

Hammer-On Exercise

David returns to the world of hammer-ons with a fun new exercise. This lesson includes a JamTrack.

Length: 13:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Return to Pull-OffsLesson 20

Return to Pull-Offs

David returns to the world of pull-offs with a new exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Practicing BendsLesson 21

Practicing Bends

David MacKenzie returns to bending technique in this lesson. This lesson features a backing track that is designed for bending practice.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Basic VibratoLesson 22

Basic Vibrato

Integrating vibrato into your guitar playing is a great way to add emotion and soul. David MacKenzie explains the basics of vibrato in this lesson.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Pentatonic ScaleLesson 23

Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the pentatonic scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 24

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the minor pentatonic scale in this lesson.

Length: 4:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Full Major ScaleLesson 25

Full Major Scale

David MacKenzie explains a two octave pattern of the major scale.

Length: 11:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Full Minor ScaleLesson 26

Full Minor Scale

David MacKenzie introduces a two octave natural minor scale pattern.

Length: 12:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Full Major Pentatonic ScaleLesson 27

Full Major Pentatonic Scale

David teaches a two octave pattern of the major pentatonic scale.

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Full Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 28

Full Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie teaches a two octave version of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool LickLesson 29

Cool Lick

David MacKenzie teaches several licks based on common arpeggio patterns. This lesson also includes a backing track to jam with.

Length: 20:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm BasicsLesson 30

Rhythm Basics

David MacKenzie introduces some important rhythm basics in this lesson. This lesson also includes a backing track exercise.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Power Chord VariationsLesson 31

Power Chord Variations

David MacKenzie explains various power chord voicings. By simply moving a finger or two, new power chords can be formed.

Length: 18:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Cool Lick ExerciseLesson 32

Cool Lick Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces some new amazing licks.

Length: 29:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping ExerciseLesson 33

Tapping Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces the tapping technique and teaches a fun exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 22:44 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Tapping Exercise #2Lesson 34

Tapping Exercise #2

David MacKenzie teaches another amazing tapping exercise.

Length: 13:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Tapping #3:  Adding Open StringsLesson 35

Tapping #3: Adding Open Strings

The third tapping lesson elaborates on the previous lesson by adding open strings.

Length: 12:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping #4:  Diminished Lick Lesson 36

Tapping #4: Diminished Lick

The fourth lesson in Dave's tapping series deals with a monster diminished lick.

Length: 11:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Tapping #5Lesson 37

Tapping #5

In lesson five of his tapping mini-series, DMac provides backing tracks that you can tap over.

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Tremolo TechniqueLesson 38

Tremolo Technique

In lesson 38, DMac demonstrates some tremolo techniques to add to your repertoire.

Length: 13:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Tapping #6Lesson 39

Tapping #6

DMac returns to his tapping instruction with more advanced techniques.

Length: 19:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord StructuresLesson 40

Chord Structures

In lesson 40, DMac teaches you how to play various D chords all the way up the neck.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
OctavesLesson 41


In lesson 41, David discusses the octave and its uses while playing.

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
David MacKenzie

About David MacKenzie View Full Biography Dave MacKenzie has been playing guitar for 30 of his 45 years on this earth. Starting back when he was 14 years old, Dave picked up the guitar and started to learn from his oldest brother, who had played some guitar as well. Dave was hooked, and couldn't learn fast enough! Everything from the Beatles, Chicago, Ted Nugent, The Eagles, you name it, Dave was trying to play it.

Then as with a lot of players out there, Eddie Van Halen came along and changed the way guitar was played! Dave has been influenced by anyone he has heard play guitar, literally! Always keeping an open mind and a humbleness about him has helped him to keep learning new things on, and about the guitar.

Dave has mostly played in top 40 rock, country, and pop bands. He is most recently playing guitar and keyboards in a 80's metal band called Open Fire. They have opened for Warrant, Firehouse, Winger, and LA Guns within the 3 and a half years they have been together, and are now jumping into original music.

Dave believes you should have internal motivation, and passion to play guitar, and most definitely, it should be fun!

As with his playing, Dave will find new ways to show you how to get the most out of your time learning guitar!

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