A Short History Of Metal Guitar Playing
‘Heavy Metal guitar sure has evolved a lot over the years. Throughout the decades, the genre went from a type of heavy blues rock to death metal to out there sub genre to doom, leaving scores of new mixed genres in its wake.
In this well-conceived video on YouTube, whose videos have been featured on this site in the past, we watch as a faceless guitarist (equipped with a seven-string Ibanez) tracks metals progress over the course of one five-minute song, from blues rock to djent.
Heavy metal (or simply metal) is the use of highly-amplified electric axe in heavy metal. Heavy metal guitar playing is rooted in the playing styles developed in 1960s-era blues rock and psychedelic rock, and it uses a massive sound, which is characterised by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos and overall loudness. The electric and the sonic power that it projects through amplification has historically been the key element in heavy metal. The heavy metal sound comes from a combined use of high volumes and lots of distortion.
Metal guitar bands often have two electrics, with one playing rhythm and one guitarist playing lead parts. The rhythm guitar player is part of the rhythm section of the band, along with the bass guitarist and the drummer. The lead guitarist plays guitar solos, instrumental melody lines and melodic fill passages. In power trios, which consist of a guitarist, bassist and drummer, with one or more members singing lead vocals, the single guitarist will switch between rhythm guitar and lead guitar roles as needed.
Metal guitar isn’t only for the lead guitarist but also for the rhythm guitar player who is part of the rhythm section of the band, along with the bass guitarist and drummer (and in some bands, a keyboard player). The rhythm guitarist typically plays power chords and riffs using an electric guitar that is plugged into a guitar amplifier, with either the amplifier and/or a distortion effect pedal creating a thick, heavy, distorted sound. The rhythm guitar player plays chords and riffs that create, along with the bass and drums, the rhythmic sound of a metal song. The rhythm guitar also plays the chord progression of a song, along with the bass player (and, if the band has one, the keyboard player).
In 1966, the British company Marshall Amplification began producing the Marshall 1963, a guitar amplifier capable of producing the distorted “crunch” that rock musicians were starting to seek. With rhythm guitar parts, the “heavy crunch sound in heavy metal…[is created by] palm muting” the strings with the picking hand and using distortion. Palm muting creates a tighter, more precise sound and it emphasises the low end.
One of the most noticeable elements of metal bands is the screaming vocals that seem to be present in this genre of music. Some rhythm guitarists sing lead vocals or backup vocals simultaneously as they play guitar.
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