How to Play Thrash Metal Rhythm Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to play thrash metal rhythm guitar in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


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Learn how to play heavy metal guitar on your own time, at your own pace, and in the comfort of your own home, with these free online guitar lessons from Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick.




I want to talk to you a bit about thrash metal rhythm guitar. You know when metal started it wasn't all fast, some of it was very slow and driving. Groups like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest who were pioneers for this style really laid the groundwork, but it was later on in the 80's groups like Motor Head, early Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, and many more. They doubled the tempos, they doubled the picking speed, so whereas a standard heavy metal rhythm in the 70's might have been something like. When that became thrash it became more like. All right. But a thrash rhythm is not just about picking a low E string as fast as you can. It's a matter of alternating it with certain chords. For example you can alternate it with power cords. Alright, so there I'm just throwing in simple power chords sometimes I'm sliding from one power chord to another. You can also alternate between single note patterns. Here's a rhythm incorporating the low E string with single note patterns. So, there's really a combination of low chugging, power chords, and single notes. Learn as many rhythms as you can and try to do your own variations. Hope you've enjoyed this lesson on thrash metal rhythm guitar.


  • Alex Skolnick

    Alex Skolnick is one of the most diverse guitarists of his generation. Best known for the thrash metal band Testament (which he joined at 16), he has performed with Ozzy Osbourne, ranked high in guitar magazine polls, achieved a BFA in music from New School University and gone on to make a mark in jazz (Alex Skolnick Trio), acoustic world music (Rodrigo Y Gabriela), symphonic rock (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and much more. Alex pens the popular blog Skolnotes on his website,