How to Play Toxicity by System of a Down (Guitar Lesson)

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Dennis Hodges


Dennis brings you "Toxicity" off of the 2002 album from System of a Down. Get your metal face ready.

Taught by Dennis Hodges in Metal Songs with Dennis seriesLength: 29:22Difficulty: 2.5 of 5

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.

GeorgeT113GeorgeT113 replied on August 28th, 2017

Why are the tabs diffrent from the lesson

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied on August 28th, 2017

The tabs should be close or very close to the lesson itself. Typically they are tabbed from the demonstration itself. Sometimes there may be a discrepency between the way the instructor played the demonstration versus teached the lesson. In such a case we tend towards tabbing based off of the demonstration as we've found it's typically a more accurate representation. If there is a specific area you want or need us to look at for clarification, please send us a note to [email protected] with the specific area and we can either give you information on why it's that way, or if fully incorrect, have it corrected.

vtkombatvtkombat replied on May 5th, 2014

Damn Dennis, thank you! You have given me a good rocking song to play for friends and family. Even my wife stops to listen and she hates any kind of hard rock/metal. Most of my practice time these days is scales, so it's nice to come and check out a song and pick it up up quickly because of your great instruction.

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied on March 6th, 2014

please note: revised and complete tab is now posted

kammhronkammhron replied on June 24th, 2013

This guy is very cool & teaches nice & clearly. Nice axe too!

albritoalbrito replied on October 2nd, 2012

i want to learn how to play war for territory from sepultura and raining blood from slayer. that's all i need for now please !!!!

dragosfdragosf replied on October 15th, 2011

Thank you soo much, that's the best music to make my fother buy me a "non-broken" guitar :))

codyswimscodyswims replied on June 18th, 2008

why don't you have "sweet home Alabama," could you put that song on the song list

grapegrape replied on March 1st, 2011

maybe because this is not classic rock

cyanide cloudcyanide cloud replied on June 23rd, 2009

That is kinda... Not Metal

ctozzictozzi replied on October 2nd, 2009

yah its metal its just not as heavy as alot of other bands.

sk8r168sk8r168 replied on November 29th, 2009

thats not metal smart one. it really isnt metal. its a rock band maybe, but definitely not metal.

dragosfdragosf replied on October 15th, 2011

It's melodic heavy or power metal

ryanhansenryanhansen replied on December 23rd, 2010

hey guys be nice. respect music. sweet home alabama is a good song. maybe not in this genre but its still good. lets not start cyber bullying. maybe he just likes dennis's method of teaching. which i dont blame him for. be nice.

supercook2supercook2 replied on July 25th, 2011

vinnie moore and me same school also mcalpine are you hiring?

isserisser replied on April 8th, 2011

i love it thanks DENNIS. your an amazing teacher.

seanmullarkeyseanmullarkey replied on November 17th, 2010

you should do asylum by disturbed that would be great

judewaddlejudewaddle replied on July 25th, 2010

how dop u do a pich a harmonic?

0427owen0427owen replied on September 2nd, 2010

good question

journey55journey55 replied on August 22nd, 2010

is the muted part on the chorus played on the E string or both the E and A strings?

judewaddlejudewaddle replied on August 5th, 2010

u r kwl

judewaddlejudewaddle replied on July 25th, 2010

could u do a song called seek and destroy by mettalica pleeeeeeeez

judewaddlejudewaddle replied on July 25th, 2010

ur my best techer :}

judewaddlejudewaddle replied on July 25th, 2010

u totaly RULE Dennis

kamihamsterkamihamster replied on July 4th, 2010

Absolutely killer video. I really dig the way you present your info. Thanks for giving me a bad ass song to play!

mega deathmega death replied on June 19th, 2010

Dennis, i'm noticing that '' the trooper '' and '' walk '' were here before but now there gone. What happened to them?

cyanide cloudcyanide cloud replied on June 24th, 2010

They were removed by WMG. A whole lot of lessons were.

jboothjbooth replied on June 24th, 2010

This man speaks the truth, a licensing dispute has caused them to be pulled. We are still trying to renegotiate a new license but are having problems with it. So I can't say when (or even if) they will be back unfortunately.

sheldon_31sheldon_31 replied on April 30th, 2009

hey would you recomend playing this song in drop d or drop c cause i have been playing it in drop c and i was wondering i think it still sounds the same but hey im tone deaf lol soo just wondering your opinion cause it is your cover were learning

cyanide cloudcyanide cloud replied on June 23rd, 2009

I would suggest playing in drop D. Most System songs are

cyanide cloudcyanide cloud replied on April 23rd, 2010

Nevermind, I am an idiot, I missed the part when Dennis said to do drop C.

guitarfreak7guitarfreak7 replied on February 21st, 2010

Chop Suey or Suite Pee by SOAD

trisolotrisolo replied on May 31st, 2009

we need more system!!!!!!!! how about B.Y.O.B.?

guitarfreak7guitarfreak7 replied on February 20th, 2010

yes we need more System Of A Down

kb46kb46 replied on January 17th, 2010

dennis your lesson is nice and clear but i cant quite figure how the timing in bars 11 and 12 fit. i can do it by copying you but i cant see how those first 4 notes in each bar fit into 1 beat ( or 3 beats depending how you look at it). I never was good at timing.

lexzbuddylexzbuddy replied on December 27th, 2009

thx there bigg fella! Great lesson, took no time to get through it. Sweet.

jonathon594jonathon594 replied on November 20th, 2009


dbaylessdbayless replied on September 25th, 2009

Thanks, Dennis. I enjoy your lessons.

ihasbenihasben replied on September 16th, 2009

Has anyone else tried this riff with a steel pick? It sounds intense.

jestersdanc3jestersdanc3 replied on July 20th, 2009

nice shirt

cyanide cloudcyanide cloud replied on June 23rd, 2009

Great lesson. You're pretty much awesome.

jace1028jace1028 replied on March 29th, 2009

haha Scene 4 3:41 "I'm not there holding a knife to your throat" haha, awesome lesson dude

dingoman5477dingoman5477 replied on March 13th, 2009

you sir are a fantastic guitarist thank you much

dropzonedropzone replied on December 16th, 2008

I could tell you were bored teaching this song but who wouldnt be lol. As boring as it may you stated it sounds pretty wicked. Enjoyed the lesson and was well taught, keep up the good work. Thanks.

tmarinzeltmarinzel replied on October 1st, 2008

Speaking on SOAD....... Could u do a lesson on Hypnotized?

richieboscorichiebosco replied on September 13th, 2008

sweet lesson should add some slipknot

tmarinzeltmarinzel replied on August 6th, 2008

it would be awsome if u added woman by Wolfmother

tmarinzeltmarinzel replied on August 13th, 2008

& "No one knows" by "queens of the stone age"

beavisbeavis replied on August 5th, 2008

can you ad enter sandman

chingolingochingolingo replied on July 19th, 2008

great lesson dennis , you made it look so simple thanks. I finally get to learn one of my fav songs . lol

dancoburn1dancoburn1 replied on June 19th, 2008

great lesson- learned the song (mastered) in an hour, thanks Dennis!

blackt00thgr1nblackt00thgr1n replied on June 10th, 2008


sonicboi222sonicboi222 replied on June 2nd, 2008

dang dat beard is ncie

nessanessa replied on April 30th, 2008

oooooh, this is a good one. Great lesson!

dave420234dave420234 replied on April 28th, 2008

great stuff......

slashhetfieldcobainslashhetfieldcobain replied on April 28th, 2008

awesome metal lesson

Metal Songs with Dennis

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Learn to rock out to the heavy metal classics throughout history.

Lesson 2

Beast and the Harlot

Dennis Hodges teaches "Beast and the Harlot" by Avenged Sevenfold.

Length: 59:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 4


Dennis brings you "Toxicity" off of the 2002 album from System of a Down. Get your metal face ready.

Length: 29:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
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Lesson 11

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Lesson 17

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Dennis Hodges shows you how to play this Judas Priest classic, which is actually a cover of a Fleetwood Mac song.

Length: 30:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

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Released in 2008 on The Showdown's third record, Back Breaker. This song features pummeling rhythm guitar and a tricky solo.

Length: 35:47 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19


Learn how to play "(sic)" by Slipknot in this lesson.

Length: 20:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

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Dennis puts a heavy metal spin on this classic Christmas song.

Length: 18:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Future Breed Machine

Dennis Hodges teaches this pummeling metal song from the band Meshuggah.

Length: 56:12 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

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Length: 20:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
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Learn this great Megadeth song from their album Cryptic Writings.

Length: 39:39 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
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Length: 53:39 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Sweating Bullets

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Length: 36:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

À Tout Le Monde

Learn this great ballad from the Youthanasia record.

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Lesson 27


Dennis Hodges teaches this Metallica classic from the band's 1988 album ...And Justice For All.

Length: 69:02 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 28


In this lesson, you'll learn how to play "Quintessence" by progressive metal band, Mastodon. The song is on the critically acclaimed album Crack the Skye, which was released in 2009. Dennis Hodges...

Length: 33:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

In My Dreams

Dennis Hodges teaches this Dokken classic note for note. From the signature riffs to the blistering solo, Dennis breaks it all down for you in this lesson.

Length: 41:39 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Caprice No. 5

Here is a lesson on this devastating piece of classical music written by Niccolò Paganini in the early 19th century. The lesson is aimed at shred guitarists because of the high level of technical proficiency...

Length: 49:14 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Cowboys From Hell

Learn how to play "Cowboys From Hell" by Pantera, the song that made them a household name. The song has an instantly recognizable guitar riff and showcases what Pantera is all about: groove metal.

Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

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Here is a lesson from Dennis Hodges on Disturbed's most well known song, "Down With The Sickness". The song is a concert staple and the album was certified platinum. Dennis breaks down all the parts and...

Length: 26:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Cemetery Gates

Dennis Hodges teaches all the parts to this power ballad by heavy metal band Pantera. At over 7 minutes, this is the longest Pantera song ever recorded. This song has one of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's...

Length: 65:30 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 34

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Learn one of Dimebag Darrell's most famous riffs with this lesson on "I'm Broken" from Far Beyond Driven. This song is a "must-learn" for metal students.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

Mouth For War

Channel your inner hate and turn it into something productive with this lesson on "Mouth For War" from the metal band Pantera. This song is from the record Vulgar Display of Power, which was released...

Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

This Love

Learn "This Love" by the metal band Pantera. Released on Vulgar Display of Power in 1992, this ballad has both haunting clean parts and brutal distorted riffs.

Length: 50:00 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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