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Basics of Metal (Guitar Lesson)

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Dennis Hodges

Basics of Metal

Welcome to the Metal guitar series! This series begins with information pertinent to guitar players of all genres. Dennis explains string and note names. He also teaches some exercises that will enhance your technical ability.

Taught by Dennis Hodges in Metal with Dennis seriesLength: 33:00Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:58) Intro to Metal Welcome to Phase 2 Metal Guitar with Dennis Hodges!

For more information about Dennis, check out his biography in the "Instructors and Staff" section.

Dennis kicks off his first metal guitar lesson by previewing concepts that will appear throughout this series. He begins with his philosophy regarding the compositional structure of most metal music.

The vast majority of music in the metal genre is composed around a series of riffs. A riff is a rhythmic motif comprised primarily of single notes and/or power chords. The lack of full triadic harmony distinguishes the riff from the chord progression. This compositional feature of the metal genre sets it apart from the jazz and folk styles, which are melodically driven.

Dennis introduces essential concepts that will be presented in this lesson series. You will begin your metal guitar journey by learning the note names on the fretboard. Then, you will develop technical facility with the aid of many coordination and strength building exercises. Dennis will help you master key components of the metal genre such as power chords, riffs, single note melody lines, picking patterns, solo techniques, and rhythm concepts. Finally, you will learn music theory concepts such as intervals and scale relationships.
Chapter 2: (04:41) Notes and Metal In order to play metal, you must first learn some concepts that are essential to all styles of guitar playing. A musician's journey always begins with learning the note names and their locations on the instrument. This is true regardless of which instrument he/she plays. For this reason, you must begin your guitar training by learning basic fretboard concepts.


Every distance between any two given notes in the musical alphabet is measurable. The distance between two notes is called an interval. The smallest possible interval in the musical alphabet is referred to as a "half step." The whole step is also called the minor second or semitone. On the guitar, adjacent frets are said to be one half step interval apart from one another. For example, the first and second frets are one half step apart.

The second smallest interval is the whole step. This can also be called a tone or major second interval. Two half steps comprise a whole step. Thus, a whole step interval spans two fret markers on the fretboard. Or, for example, the first fret is a whole step below the third fret.

The musical alphabet consists of seven letter names. These letter names infinitely reoccur in the same pattern forwards as well as backwards. In other words, the white keys on a keyboard keep repeating in this pattern: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, etc. The distance between each pair of adjacent notes can be measured in half steps and whole steps. It is VERY important that you learn and memorize the distances between the following note pairs. It is easiest to remember the half steps since they are the exceptions within this list.

A to B: whole step
B to C: half step
C to D: whole step
D to E: whole step
E to F: half step
F to G: whole step
G to A: whole step

Applying Intervals to the Fretboard

Dennis starts with the lowest (fattest) string on the fretboard. When this string is plucked, it produces the note E. The distance between an open string and its first fret marker is one half step. As a result, the note name of the first fret on this string is F. Now, using the pattern of whole and half steps that you learned earlier, determine the fret locations of each note in the alphabet on this string. Follow along with Dennis if you need some help. Notice how the note names begin to repeat at the twelfth fret. This second "E" note is said to be one octave higher than its corresponding open note. Thus, 12 frets across a single string represent an octave interval.

Learning the note names of every single fret/string combination is absolutely essential to your ability to work, communicate, and learn with other musicians. This is especially true of musicians that play other instruments.
Chapter 3: (02:57) Note Names on All Strings In this scene, Dennis walks you through the process of determining the note names on the two lowest strings. He chooses these two particular strings because they are used more frequently than the others in the context of metal rhythm playing. The lowest root note of a power chord is typically found on the fifth and sixth strings. Power chords that contain a low root on the fourth, third, or second string are rarely used.

The lowest, fattest string produces the pitch "E" when it is played open. From the order of half steps and whole steps in the musical alphabet, you know that the next note, F, is a half step up from E. Thus, the note F is found at the first fret. The following note, G, is a whole step from F. So, G is played at the third fret of this string. Then, two whole steps occur within the musical alphabet. As a result, A is played at the fifth fret and B is played at the seventh fret. C is only a half step above B at the eighth fret. The scale then moves up another whole step to D at the tenth fret. Finally, the scale returns to an E note at the twelfth fret. A second, higher octave of notes begins on every string at the twelfth fret.

It is very important that you practice ascending and descending this horizontal scale pattern on a daily basis. Say the name of each note name aloud as you it. This will help you memorize the notes and their corresponding locations in the most efficient manner. Once you have determined the note names and locations for the other five strings, practice playing up and down the scale horizontally on those strings as well.
Chapter 4: (04:14) Left Hand Exercise Dennis demonstrates an exercise designed to develop left hand accuracy and coordination. This exercise also serves as a great warm-up when you first begin your daily practice session.

Begin by playing the note F on the high E string. Fret this note with the first finger. Then, while keeping the first finger planted, play the note at the second fret with the second finger. Next, the third finger frets the note at the third fret. Make sure that you keep your first and second fingers planted. Next, while keeping your other fingers planted, the pinky finger frets the note at the fourth fret.

Then, this entire pattern is repeated up a half step in second position. This continues until the pinky finger is fretting the note on the 12th fret.

At this point, the pinky jumps to the 12th fret of the B string. Once on the B string, the pattern that you have been playing is repeated backwards in an ascending fashion.

Note: Tablature to this exercise can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

While playing through this exercise, it is very important that you adhere strictly to the rules of classical left hand technique. Make sure that your thumb is planted perpendicular to the middle of the neck. Do not bring it up and over the neck! Make sure that your fingers remain arched at all times. Do not flatten out any joints. Keep the wrist bent in a comfortable position. Finally, keep your left hand fingers as close to the fretboard at all times. Watch Dennis for a clear example of proper technique.

Also, you must keep the rhythm of the exercise steady at all times. Set your metronome to a slow quarter note tempo to begin with. Make sure that each picked note aligns perfectly with the click of the metronome. This exercise should be played in a legato fashion. Each note must ring clearly into the next.

Once you feel comfortable playing this exercise slowly using all downstrokes, practice it using alternate picking. The first time you practice the exercise, start the alternate picking pattern with a downstroke. The next time around, begin with an upstroke. This will ensure that your upstrokes and downstrokes are even in tone and volume.
Chapter 5: (05:15) More Left Hand Action The left hand exercise that Dennis demonstrates in this scene is quite similar to the exercise presented in the previous scene. Both exercises are geared toward improving the overall ability of the fretting hand.

The exercise presented in this scene begins on the sixth string instead of the first. It starts with an ascending chromatic pattern played by fingers 1, 2, 3, and 4. After the pinky finger plays the note at the fourth fret, the pinky slides up to the fifth fret. At this point, a descending four finger pattern is played. This alternating structure of ascending and descending patterns gives this exercise a strange, almost wave-like quality.

Note: Open the "Supplemental Content" tab for tablature to this exercise.

When practicing this second exercise, remember all of the technical and musical rules discussed in the previous scene. Strive for clarity and accuracy rather than speed. This is a warm-up exercise! You will not receive much benefit from simply blazing through these patterns! At first, play each exercise as slowly as you can possibly stand it. Then, as you master each exercise at this tempo, gradually begin to increase the tempo. Also, like Dennis mentions, be sure to practice these exercises using nothing but upstrokes in addition to strict downpicking and alternate picking.

Note: For more exercises similar to those discussed in this lesson, be sure to check out Guitar Lore written by Dennis Sandole.
Chapter 6: (03:56) Another Left Hand Exercise Dennis demonstrates an exercise that is very effective at improving the reach and flexibility of the left hand. If you are a beginning guitarist, or you simply have smaller hands, you will probably find this exercise very uncomfortable at first. Due to the difficulty of this exercise, practice it in the middle of your practice session when your left hand is sufficiently warmed up. If you experience any pain at any point in time during this exercise, stop what you are doing and take a break. When your fingers feel totally relaxed again, return to the exercise. Do not try to play this exercise fast! Ever! Doing so will only result in pain and potential injury!

This stretch exercise begins with the first finger playing at the ninth fret of the low E string. Then, while the first finger remains planted, the second finger stretches to play the note at the eleventh fret. In the next portion of the exercise, the same stretch is made between the second and third fingers. Remember to keep the second finger planted! This particular stretch is extremely difficult due to the fact that these two fingers share a tendon. Finally, repeat the same process with the third and pinky fingers respectively. You will most likely find that this combination is actually easier than using the middle and third fingers.

Dennis has chosen to demonstrate this exercise at the ninth fret, because the size of the frets are relatively small in this area of the fretboard. To increase the distance of your stretching ability, try to play this exercise between two frets that are lower on the fretboard.
Chapter 7: (11:58) Right Hand Exercise The right hand exercise that Dennis demonstrates utilizes a descending form of the E natural minor (E Aeolian) scale played horizontally across the high E string. Before you dive into the actual exercise, take some time practicing the ascending and descending pattern of this scale across the first string. Use your index finger to fret every note.

When the scale is used in the context of the exercise, open string notes are inserted in between notes fretted by the left hand. The first version of this exercise is played in a steady sixteenth note rhythm. Three open string notes follow each fretted note. Start the exercise with a downstroke or an upstroke and proceed with strict alternate picking. Descend this pattern until you reach the open E string. Then, ascend the pattern back to where you started at the 12th fret.

Make sure that you adhere to the picking rules that Dennis discusses in this scene at all times. The very tip of the pick is the only part that should make contact with the string. This is much easier if you hold the pick in such a way that only the tip of pick extends out from the thumb and index finger. Watch Dennis closely for a clear demonstration. Holding the pick in this way will allow you to play faster and with more precision.

Also, Dennis prefers to play with the pick parallel to the string. This technique yields the loudest and brightest possible tone. This may or may not be desirable to you. Other metal players such as Kirk Hammett prefer to play with the pick slightly angled. This produces a slightly darker, jazzier tone.

Repeat this exercise on all six strings. This minor scale pattern takes the name of the open string that it is played on. For example, if you play this exercise on the B string, a B natural minor scale is produced.

Once you feel comfortable with playing this exercise in the way that Dennis has just described, try to eliminate two of the open string notes between the fretted notes. This results in a repeating pattern of a fretted note followed by only one open string note. Playing the exercise in this manner creates much more work for the left hand. As a result, you may need to alter the left hand fingering. Watch Dennis for some possible ways of executing position shifts within the scale.

In order to challenge your right hand, remove just one open string note between fretted notes. This diminishes the rhythm of the exercise to a steady triplet rhythm. Playing the exercise in this rhythm will slight affect where downstrokes and upstrokes occur. This may require some extra practice and mental / hand coordination. Regardless, always maintain strict alternate picking throughout the exercise.

To provide your right hand with an even greater challenge, add two additional open string notes between fretted notes. When this occurs, the rhythm increases to a steady sextuplet rhythm, or six notes per beat.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

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

mflorantmflorant replied on May 18th, 2017

Video quality is pretty poor compared to other JamPlay.

jboothjbooth replied on May 18th, 2017

Just for context these lessons are about 9 years old, so they look fairly dated compared to the new material :)

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on February 1st, 2016

Hey Dennis, what's that growing on your chin? Thank God, i know my theory pretty good. As you say "it's just that easy!". Southern Guitar Man

bikerbomberbikerbomber replied on January 26th, 2016

--Dennis' words of the day-- Comfortability: N. The state of being comfortable and consistent in your ability. Thanks Dennis!

spiderluccispiderlucci replied on January 17th, 2016

Great Lesson.Thanks Dennis :) replied on October 20th, 2015

Very excited to be taking these lessons on Metal

doc4057doc4057 replied on September 27th, 2015

i'm confused about the supplemental stuff, the notation seems to start in the middle of the lesson, is there notation starting from note 1 in these exercises?

grburgessgrburgess replied on May 19th, 2015

I know all the note names finally on my guitar, but I'm still insecure about it, so I still review it a lot to try to overlearn it.

tat2samtat2sam replied on January 4th, 2015

Great explanation of notes, and theory. The exercises are awesome learning tools!

speedkillsspeedkills replied on September 10th, 2014

but what about folk metal?:)

jah herbertjah herbert replied on May 21st, 2014

thanks for the teaching its great i just need to practice more

external_external_ replied on March 5th, 2014

Best intro lesson ever.thank you so much.

duvexyduvexy replied on December 12th, 2013

Thanks Dennis for the exercises I really needed that. Great teacher. I can't wait to get back here tomorrow for lesson two.

devonm13devonm13 replied on November 4th, 2013

dennis your the man! sad your the only metal instructor i mean come on people you need to learn to shred

egosmackeregosmacker replied on October 19th, 2013

Great teacher!

jr464hcjr464hc replied on October 13th, 2013

Mr. Dennis reminds me a lot of my old music instructor. "If you skipped to this... well... I'm not moving on.. I can't do that.

insanus82insanus82 replied on August 18th, 2013

Scene 4 (Left Hand Exercise): video not found :(

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on August 19th, 2013

This has come up before- I'm not sure what to say because it works for me. Have you tried contacting the site support?

hazzerddhazzerdd replied on August 6th, 2013

I'm using the exact same guitar! Bought it used at Guitar Center:)

donnie1967donnie1967 replied on June 19th, 2013

Man, my pinky is wothless on the 6th and 5th strings. I have short fingers, and when I have to stretch it to reach those strings, it pretty much forms a barre across the other strings...

jokergrinjokergrin replied on April 21st, 2013

I'm actually quite certain I learnt more watching these videos and performing these exercises than I did in the past couple of years of noodling around with tabs. Kudos Dennis!

f4ushotf4ushot replied on December 4th, 2012

great content. Exactly what I was looking for

sxesnowmansxesxesnowmansxe replied on October 10th, 2012

That weird sound he's talking about with the pick angle is where a lot of the aggressive guitar sound comes from. Just ask James Hetfield.

alexaffectsalexaffects replied on March 17th, 2012

i can do left hand exersise 3 on all fingers exept 3&4 however i am 12 and have small hands

rjbluesrjblues replied on May 4th, 2012

im 11 and i can do it easy AUSTRALIA RJBLUES

rockgod1rockgod1 replied on March 3rd, 2012

I have a habit of tuning my guitar before and after I play and I discovered something I thought would be helpful to the other students. I was about to put my guitar away and I had just tuned it and my snark tuner was clipped on the guitar and I decided to practice Learning the notes. I accidently realized that the Tuner will display the notes as you play them so you can confirm if you are learning the notes correctly

alexaffectsalexaffects replied on March 17th, 2012


rockgod1rockgod1 replied on March 2nd, 2012

sorry about the double post

rockgod1rockgod1 replied on March 2nd, 2012

I get A to G and that B to C is Half and E to F is Half. What I don't get is the starting points of the First Fret. For instance you strum Open "E" and Say something like 0 + 1 = and I was like huh? then you strummed second string first fret and said "E" and then the top string first fret you said F. That kind of confused me.

rockgod1rockgod1 replied on March 2nd, 2012

I get A to G and that B to C is Half and E to F is Half. What I don't get is the starting points of the First Fret. For instance you strum Open "E" and Say something like 0 + 1 = and I was like huh? then you strummed second string first fret and said "E" and then the top string first fret you said F. That kind of confused me.

kalabajabakalabajaba replied on February 16th, 2012

i cant seem to pick very fast.feels wrong when i do and doesnt clean. any suggestions?

bloodspillbloodspill replied on February 21st, 2012

Dennis where is your lead lessons or where do I find them... i just started jamplay and don't see it only lessons from 1-11???

bloodspillbloodspill replied on February 21st, 2012 you don't have to start up fast playing guitar even if your a pro... You are learning everyday... take it slow and speed will come

bloodspillbloodspill replied on February 21st, 2012

never mind... thanks anyway... i just felt in to duh land and came back

sother2sother2 replied on September 2nd, 2011

Amazing. I taught myself mostly before, and after you showed the whole half step full step thing, i can honestly communicate and KNOW what to do now! thanks so much man

the forgotten tragedythe forgotten tragedy replied on August 31st, 2011

Thought the lesson was splended discussed gradually the few steps it takes to warm up your fingers in order to get them ready to play. I liked how he also showed how we can improve the warm-up as we whent along and started playing it. Normally when I did warm-ups I tried it as much as possible and did it way to tense and watching this video he showed me a better way to hold the pick, which also increased my picking by at least several beats faster, now i feel more comfortable with my playstyle.

thrasher101thrasher101 replied on August 15th, 2011

this excersise sounds like wasted years by iron maiden

dzendek1dzendek1 replied on August 13th, 2011

I need alot of help with the letter names on the frets big time on the whole and half step parts. it seems to jump everywhere. if anybody can help me out it would be appreciated.

dzendek1dzendek1 replied on August 14th, 2011

ok i figured it out now. I feel good. I rewatched the lesson and my comprehension skyrocked now.

shredmeistershredmeister replied on August 4th, 2011

awesome lesson, thanks for the easily understandable theory!

kdenz1kdenz1 replied on February 1st, 2009

how to u update your progress? i've watched 7 scenes and still have 0 progress

fearandfaith93fearandfaith93 replied on August 2nd, 2011

You have to move the bar yourself.

scroogescrooge replied on July 19th, 2011

Thank you Dennis for your valuable insight, you corrected and strengthened my playing immensely.

wannabrokstarwannabrokstar replied on June 16th, 2011

Awesome Dennis, absolutely awesome! I have just joined and have been self taught for years, never knowing the backgrounds of notes and always cheating by using tabs. I have now seen the many errors I have taught myself and to now know what notes I am hitting and how to find them all in the space of 30 mins. I've always been eager to learn the latest and classic riffs without wanting to know music, now I can see why I haven't advanced much considering the amount of time I have been playing. A bit long winded but you have opened my eyes! Thank you so much. Rock on.

mohawk75mohawk75 replied on May 7th, 2011

so the summer movement of Vivaldi's Four Seasons is a bunch of chopped up minor scales? (btw Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvia do a pretty awesome version of this.)

satchfansatchfan replied on April 27th, 2011

So angling the pick is a bad habit?. then why have i seen so many teachers who encourage students to angle the pick so it ''cuts'' through the strings so it doesn't get ''stuck'' when playing faster?. Pebber Brown, Andrew Wasson to name just two.

moondoggymoondoggy replied on March 20th, 2011

Hey Dennis, I'm having trouble keeping my hand not at a 90 degree angle while playing (or maybe I just don't know what you mean). I've been playing guitar for about 2 years now and I can't seem to adjust my hand out of playing like that.

musixx06musixx06 replied on March 19th, 2011

Dude your lessons Are fucking heavy man!!! its awesome

regriguitar235regriguitar235 replied on January 30th, 2011

dennis is a step wise teacher through metal. Each and every step is easily understood. Awesome!

gromlomgromlom replied on November 11th, 2010

Dennis has all the right jokes and attitude for being my teacher, Plus hes very good at teaching. All Though if i were completely new to guitar This would Take me so much longer to learn each exercise xD I loved how he refreshed my memory on half and whole steps. Rock on Dennis _!..!

akimiharuakimiharu replied on August 28th, 2010

Great teacher, but... Oh no! He's married!!! ; D D

caliban4caliban4 replied on July 29th, 2010

I could not agree more with your comment that a knowledge of the note names as opposed to just the fret numbers makes a more well rounded musician. TAB also has the shortcoming of requiring a knowledge of the song as heard before you play it since TAB does not give you dynamics, rhythm, etc.

caliban4caliban4 replied on July 29th, 2010

The exercises look like the equivalent of the Hanon exercises for piano.

harleharle replied on February 22nd, 2010

If I were no JamPlay-Member, after this lesson i would join for sure. It's this combination of jokes, knowledge, exercises and hair (sorry couldn't resist) that dennis is it!

0427owen0427owen replied on July 28th, 2010

great lesson for beginner, cheers

scottmv1scottmv1 replied on July 19th, 2010

Really like your teaching style......very cool. Look forward to more.

eclipse31eclipse31 replied on July 7th, 2010

I didn't get the whole note name stuff at first but when I watched the video a second time i totaly got it. great lesson

spawnscspawnsc replied on July 6th, 2010

i would like to note that its a good idea to use a metronome always during practice.

anandspamanandspam replied on July 2nd, 2010

Great, fun, teacher.

dcleary86dcleary86 replied on February 21st, 2010

Dennis is a really great instructor and reminds me of my old one when I was in high school I love these exercises that he's given me I like the Maiden drop at the end my ring finger is giving me hell but all in all its really nice to learn something new

kamihamsterkamihamster replied on February 8th, 2010

I really loved this lesson I'm doing the basic guitar with Mark Brennan. I'm gonna do all the exercises while I practice to build my hand ability. Thanks dennis!

lukacar24lukacar24 replied on January 24th, 2010

y,dennis roX ^^

smonnarsmonnar replied on January 6th, 2010

Dennis is tha f****n man!!!

lefty01lefty01 replied on January 1st, 2010

Thanks Dennis. Your lesson(s) are exactly what I have been looking for.

chase_1995chase_1995 replied on December 5th, 2009

Thanks dennis for making this so simple and teaching the very most basic things which i have had trouble finding on the site

justorymesjustorymes replied on September 17th, 2009

i got a great practace song for myself it's an iron maiden song i think, it's like this... A B C AB C AB C F G A FG A GC B what song is this?

ihasbenihasben replied on September 17th, 2009

This guy is my favourite on this site. Best shirts, best hair.

kreiggkreigg replied on November 2nd, 2008

the whole naming the notes thing is still confusing to me, i have been playing for a little under a year and i have very rarley heard them used by these names, (i have always used tabs) so if you know any sites or could offer more help, that would be a big help, thanks

rubisamarubisama replied on September 10th, 2009

Just search for guitar note charts. Google images.

leftyplayerleftyplayer replied on June 5th, 2009

Awesome, awesome lesson. The exercises to stretch the fingers is really useful as I have a lot of trouble with my short, stubby fingers and I think this will help. I wasn't even into metal, just kind of checked out our lesson and, now, I'm sold and will follow thorugh all of them! Thank you.

coreygaskins1994coreygaskins1994 replied on May 11th, 2009

hey man great lesson but i have a question..ive been playing metal for 4 years and just looking at old stuff to brush up on my technique and you were talking about left hand posture and having an opening between your palm and the neck of the guitar..well the bottom part of my hand is very far from the neck but the top of my hand right below the fingers rests on the neck..i tried taking it off and it felt awkward and that ok if i rest that part of my hand on the neck

stephenelenastephenelena replied on April 30th, 2009

wow, this is really effective, at first i couldnt really stretch my fingers far but after a couple days of playing this 'scale' i really started improving. Thanks Denis!!

splint93splint93 replied on February 23rd, 2009

What Effect pedal are you using Dennis? xD

jam7jam7 replied on February 4th, 2009

Dennis, you da man! didn't know what i was going to do with my axe until i clicked on your lesson for METAL. Love you style of humorous, to da point teaching. Thanks

tapeeyokatapeeyoka replied on January 10th, 2009

Sweet lesson! I am having a hard time finding the notes on the frets. I come from a piano background and can read music but I was really intimidated by trying to learn where the notes are on the guitar. This lesson made it simple for me to learn this - THANKS!!! You are a great teacher, keep it up!

brno32brno32 replied on January 9th, 2009

Hey the 9th 11th fret thing i can do except with my ring finger and pinkie. I simply cannot make them move that way any tips?

malicemalice replied on December 21st, 2008

great lessons, good job. thanks!

lcrscr675lcrscr675 replied on December 9th, 2008

hey nice lesson its really nice how you teach it helps a lot, great lesson

lcrscr675lcrscr675 replied on December 9th, 2008


triathletechinktriathletechink replied on November 29th, 2008

Man that middle /ring finger excercise on the 9th and 11th fret is hard, my fingers aren't made to stretch that far apart lol.

triathletechinktriathletechink replied on November 28th, 2008

I really like the way the instructors, harp on the basics. Great analogy Dennis with the "connect the dots" comment.

t0pw0pt0pw0p replied on October 7th, 2008

Thanks Dennis, It really helps me remember the notes on the neck.

joffajoffa replied on August 5th, 2008

Great lesson Dennis, some really good exercises here. it's just what I need. Thanks.

tamactamac replied on July 23rd, 2008

This was an Awesome Lesson. Please keep em coming

skater742skater742 replied on June 22nd, 2008

Great lesson! I've been playing for over a year now and been learning all of the metal songs and then stumbled upon this and now I have a whole new intake on metal and notes and everything. I can't believe I didn't know all of this before. Thanks for the lesson! Keep it up.

marks account12marks account12 replied on June 4th, 2008

Thanks mate i love metal so much Thanks for the Lesson

fyrarefyrare replied on May 19th, 2008

what is the reccomended practice time with these drills?

slashhetfieldcobainslashhetfieldcobain replied on May 4th, 2008

Metal's my favorite, I love these lessons. Thanks.

shdwshdw replied on May 3rd, 2008

I found it easier to look at it like this...A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#. If you take this and take the sharps out look at it like A, B, C, D, E, F, G and then braket it out A [B C] D [E F] G you will see the spacing there and it is a simple pattern. No B sharp or C flat exists and no E sharp or F flat exists. Being very mathematical/logical I like to view things in patterns so this was an easy way to remember it. Even the scales minor/major are just patterns. A minor scale is W,H,W,W,H,W,W and major scale is W,W,H,W,W,W,H. These are patterns too, here...major scale [W,W,H,W,W,||W,H] if you look where the || is and start there and loop back to the begining you have your minor scale. The minor scale is nothing more then a continuation of the pattern laid out by the major scale. I hope everyone understands what I am trying to depict. Interestingly enough I have only been playing the guitar(my first instrument) for about 2 months so if someone has a better way to explain what I just tried to explain feel free. Thanks guys and by the way denis this is my fav lesson so far and I think the most practical, you guys should set up a section on just practice techniques to gain strength in your hands and coordinationl

fjoseph88fjoseph88 replied on March 31st, 2008

hehe more left hand action!! sorry I couldn't resist, thanks for the great lesson I stayed up the whole night doing thissss. I can't wait for more

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on April 4th, 2008

there's an upcoming lesson I cleverly titled "Left Hand Overload." Brace yourselves!

indecentangelindecentangel replied on March 29th, 2008

Great lesson. I was guilty of slightly turning my pick. And always wondered if I was getting into a bad habit. Now I know. And Kevin I'm having the same problem PLUS my pinky is half the size of the rest of my fingers. We'll just keep trying brother. And I'll pulling on this pinky of mine.

jlaakerjlaaker replied on March 27th, 2008

Best lesson yet. I played drums before and this is what I needed to get my fingers to do what is needed. Love the way it sounds metal even though its just warming up. May be able to imitate Iron Maiden now. Can't wait for next lesson! Thanks again

kevinengle2000kevinengle2000 replied on March 26th, 2008

is it realistic to start the stretching exercise at 9 and 11 i can't even come close to reaching them with me 2nd 3rd or 3rd 4th fingers I'm somewhere around 14th 16th or should i give up and buy some drums

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on March 24th, 2008

whoops! I left out the steps in the Supplemental Content. They are: A-B whole, B-C half, C-D whole, D-E whole, E-F half, F-G whole, G-A whole

mercenarymercenary replied on March 24th, 2008

Awesome lesson! I was really holding out for something like this - been playing for nearly a year now ... and this is what I needed to take me to the next level! Yahooooooooooooooooooooooo! keep you the good work dude

ataris28ataris28 replied on March 23rd, 2008

wow. wow. i'm honestly not even into metal that much but after the paranoid lesson and this one i am totally inspired to learn more metal. dennis you rock man. you are an excellent teacher and i cannot wait to see your next lessons no matter what they are thanks so much

cookjcookj replied on March 23rd, 2008

thanx dennis for a great lesson. looking forward to your next lessons. please don't sleep so you can crank out more lessons on 'metal' way sooner..., outstanding!

gorbaggorbag replied on March 22nd, 2008

Wow that lesson was incredibly helpful. I like those new exercises. Should they be practiced until they can be played as fast as is comfortable while sounding good?

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on March 22nd, 2008

well, that would be ideal. It's good you mentioned as fast as possible while playing comfortably, but at the same time, these are warm-ups, so when warming up you would want to keep it relaxed and clean.

SylviaSylvia replied on March 22nd, 2008

Impressive. I really liked that you emphasized proper hand/thumb placement. Great job!

hgnativehgnative replied on March 22nd, 2008

great lesson looking forward to more

Metal with Dennis

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Get ready to rock in this metal lesson series with Dennis Hodges. From 80's Metal to modern Dennis loves it all.

Lesson 1

Basics of Metal

Dennis covers important guitar basics such as note names and technical exercises.

Length: 33:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Power Chords and Rhythm

Dennis introduces power chords and basic rhythm concepts. Both subjects are very important to the metal genre.

Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Essential Techniques 1

Learn a variety of essential techniques commonly used in the metal genre, including palm muting, string slides, and chord slides.

Length: 36:52 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 4

Essential Techniques 2

Metal lesson 4 brings you some info on hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, bending, and the infamous pinch harmonics.

Length: 45:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Left Hand Overload

Dennis delivers left hand techniques and exercises, with topics including spider walking / riffing, octaves, stretching and 4 practice riffs.

Length: 62:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Rhythm and Timing

While using a metronome, Dennis covers essential techniques and exercises to obtain great rhythm and timing.

Length: 35:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

"Metal Poisoning"

Written just for JamPlay and his Metal series, this song will allow you to put all your techniques to use in a musical manner.

Length: 28:54 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Time Signatures Part 1

In this lesson Dennis teaches the following common time signatures: 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8. Dennis explains each signature and provides a short example for illustration.

Length: 33:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Time Signatures Part 2

This time around Dennis explains odd time signatures. Similar to Part 1, he uses a musical example to illustrate each new signature.

Length: 45:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Rhythm Pt. 2

Dennis continues his metal series with part two of his look at rhythm and timing.

Length: 56:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Right Hand Overload

This lesson is the long lost sibling to "Left Hand Overload."

Length: 52:11 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Dennis Hodges View Full Biography For better or worse, Dennis Hodges cannot stop playing music, and (he hopes) will never stop playing music.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Dennis had a tremendous passion for drawing. He couldn't stop copying moves from bands he saw on MTV, though, and it didn't help that his parents filled the house with Santana, Stevie Ray, and Allman Bros. (on real records, no less!) so it wasn't long till he got his first guitar. It was junk. Within a few weeks his parents traded in a poor acoustic for a less junky 3/4-size electric.

Dennis started lessons right away at the age of 8. He still remembers hating it for awhile, and not taking it seriously until he was 12. He is thankful his parents forced him to practice early on and kept paying for lessons, even though rational thinking should have stopped them after a year.

Around this time drawing became less important, and guitar consumed all his attention. After 6 years of lessons he parted ways with his teacher and, after trying out two others with no results, decided to continue alone. His nerdistic tendencies paid off, as he put in hours working on picking and left hand exercises and learned as many Randy Rhoads and Kirk Hammett solos as he could.

Luckily, there were playing opportunities at school talent shows and church. Dennis was playing bass at his church when he was 13, helping to hone his performance skills in a group setting.

In high school, Dennis joined the marching band on sousaphone for all 4 years. It was as awesome as you could expect. He was also fortunate enough to be in several different metal bands, still play at church, and get the incredible opportunity to play guitar for many local community theaters. This kept his sight-reading in shape and gave him an appreciation for different styles of music (and paid pretty well, from a high schooler's perspective).

In 2001, Dennis came to Bexley, Ohio to study guitar at Capital University with Stan Smith. His studies emphasized jazz and classical guitar. Here his metal past merged with a deeper understanding of the instrument and music in general, and the basis for most of his teaching style was set in motion.

Dennis now plays guitar for Upper Arlington Lutheran Church every Sunday, for St. Christopher in Grandview, Ohio, with the youth group, and also plays for touring Broadway shows that stop in Columbus. Occasionally, he plays weddings and private parties, and he is starting a new cover band with some friends, called Dr. Awkward. He is blessed to have his understanding and supportive wife Kate, and is glad to be at JamPlay!

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Justin Roth Justin Roth

In this lesson Justin introduces his series on playing with a capo and dishes out some basic tips, including how to properly...

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Mark Lincoln Mark Lincoln

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

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Award winning, Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Calum Graham introduces his Jamplay Artist Series, which aims to transform...

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In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

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Trace Bundy talks about the different ways you can use multiple capos to enhance your playing.

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JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

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Miche Fambro Miche Fambro

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Guthrie Trapp Guthrie Trapp

JamPlay introduces Nashville session player Guthrie Trapp! In this first segment, Guthrie talks a little about his influences,...

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Joe Burcaw Joe Burcaw

Join Joe as he shows one of his favorite drills for strengthening his facility around the fretboard: The Spider Technique.

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Alex Scott Alex Scott

Find out what this series is all about.

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Dave "David J" Weiner returns with a lesson on how to play with style and attitude. He covers all the basic techniques you'll...

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James explains how to tap arpeggios for extended musical reach.

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Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

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DJ Phillips DJ Phillips

Learn a handful of new blues techniques while learning to play Stevie Ray Vaughn's "The House Is Rockin'".

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Ian Argys Ian Argys

Lesson 6 is all about the major mode. As with the other lessons you'll be taking a look at the individual notes on the strings...

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Chris Liepe Chris Liepe

Chris brings his ingenuity to this lesson on the American folk song called "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" Also known as...

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Kris Norris Kris Norris

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the...

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