Is Metal Guitar Hard to Learn? Beginner Metal FAQ

Metal can be an incredibly fun and intense style of music to play on guitar. There are many metal sub-genres and interesting songs to learn.

If you’re a beginner wanting to learn metal on guitar, you might wonder whether metal is hard to learn.

Metal is not hard to learn on guitar because there are a lot of easy metal songs you can learn as a beginner. As you develop your metal guitar skills, you can gradually work your way toward learning more complicated metal songs.

Metal is a style of music that can include a lot of complicated rhythms and solos as well as fast and aggressive techniques. But there are a lot of metal songs that are very simple and quick to learn.

A lot of metal songs may seem impossible to play on guitar when you’re a beginner. But if you take your time to learn each technique, you’ll find that metal is a relatively easy style of music to learn on guitar.

In this guide, I’ll answer the most common questions you might have about learning metal on guitar as well as advice on how to get started.

If you’re ready to start learning metal guitar, check out these guides to get started:

How Long Does it Take to Learn Metal Guitar?

Metal is an easy style of music to start learning as a beginner. But how long does it take to learn metal on guitar?

A beginner can learn to play some simple metal riffs within a week or two. Many metal songs are very basic to learn with minimal techniques, so you can start learning full metal songs in a month or two.

Of course, not all metal songs and riffs are easy to play and a lot of songs will take months if not years to master.

For example, here is a very basic metal riff in Guitar TAB:

Easy Metal Riff - For Whom the Bell Tolls

Note: if you don’t know how to read the above Guitar TAB, read this guide to reading Guitar TAB.

The above riff is the intro to the song For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica. All you need to learn to play this riff is to learn power chords and muting. Two very simple techniques a beginner can learn in a day or two.

The rest of the song is almost as easy and uses power chords the entire way.

The point to remember is that there are plenty of metal songs that are simple enough for a beginner to learn.

How to Learn Metal Faster

If you’re just getting started learning metal guitar, the key to success is practice.

I know that might sound obvious, but the more effectively and consistently you practice, the faster you will learn guitar.

Read this guide to learn how long you should practice per day.

Can a Beginner Learn Metal?

A beginner can learn metal on guitar from the very beginning. Once you learn basic techniques such as palm muting, power chords and basic picking, you can start learning simple metal riffs and songs.

As mentioned earlier, many metal riffs and songs are extremely simple and can be learned in a matter of weeks.

If you want to learn metal as a beginner, start by finding metal songs and riffs that use minimal techniques.

Some of the riffs in this lesson use the same techniques and skills you need in many metal songs.

Take some time learning the riffs in the above guide and you’ll be able to start working on basic metal songs.

Do Metal Guitarists Play Chords?

Yes, metal guitarists play chords. Many metal songs make heavy use of ‘power chords’, but some metal songs also use full chords.

Compared to other styles of music, full chords aren’t used as often in metal. So as a beginner, you can delay learning chords and focus on single-note riffs and power chords.

But every metal guitarist should learn some basic chord shapes as they will show up in some metal songs.

A lot of metal songs are based totally around riffs instead of a chord progression.

For example, the below riff from the song Master of Puppets by Metallica only uses three power chords. The rest of the riff makes use of single notes:

Master of Puppets Riff Guitar TAB

As you look through your favorite metal songs, you may find that many of them don’t use a single chord in the entire song.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn chords, only that many metal guitarists don’t tend to use chords when writing songs.

If you want to learn some basic chords, these 10 easy chords are a good starting point.

Can You Play Metal Songs Without a Pick?

While it is possible to play some metal songs without a pick, it’s not recommended. Many metal songs can only be played with a pick and you won’t achieve the right tone without one.

Take a look at the below TAB and imagine trying to play it without a pick:

Metal alternate picking TAB

To play the above exercise, you need to palm mute the strings and alternate pick (down up down up).

A lot of metal songs use this type of technique and often play it at blistering speeds. Something like this can only be properly played with a pick.

To learn the basics of picking technique, check out these lessons:

If you’re a beginner, start with the alternate picking exercises and leave economy picking and sweep picking for later on as they’re more advanced techniques.

What Equipment is Needed for Metal Guitar?

As a bare minimum, to play metal you need a suitable electric guitar and an amp that provides you with lots of gain. A suitable distortion or overdrive pedal is also handy to help you get a good metal tone.

Some metal guitarists use a variety of different effects pedals, but a basic metal guitar tone can be achieved with the right guitar amp or distortion/overdrive pedal.

Let’s have a closer look at the type of guitars, pedals, and amps you might want to buy to play metal.

Metal Guitars

While it’s possible to play metal on almost any type of guitar, some guitars are far better suited to metal than others.

The below guitars are examples of suitable guitars for metal:

Best Metal Guitars

Metal guitars can come in a wide range of shapes and styles and have very different hardware features. Metal can be played on 6, 7, or 8-string guitars in a variety of different tunings.

Learn how 7-string guitars compare to 6-string guitars in this guide.

Some metal guitars use fixed bridges, while others use floating tremolos. The right metal guitar for you depends on the bands you listen to and what you want to be able to play.

Learn about different guitar parts and what all the hardware does in this guide.

A common feature across most metal guitars is the use of high-output humbucker pickups. Humbucker pickups help achieve a punchy and tight tone without the background hum found in other types of pickups (eg: single coils).

Learn everything you need to know about metal guitars in this guide.

Metal Guitar Pedals

If your guitar amp has a good high-gain channel, you may not need any pedals at all.

But there are some guitar pedals that help shape and enhance your tone to suit different metal songs.

A distortion or overdrive pedal is a good way to tap into some high-gain tones in ways you may not be able to achieve with your amp alone.

Other effects such as delay and compressor can help you shape your tone and give it a bigger sound.

Another important effect pedal you may want to consider when playing metal is a noise suppressor.


A noise suppressor helps remove background noise and hum from your tone. This is more important when playing metal compared to other styles of music due to the high gain and distortion used.

If you find that your guitar amp is noisy when you’re not playing, a noise suppressor can be an easy way to clean up your signal.

Understanding how different types of pedals and effects can be used in metal is a good way to improve your tone.

Check out the Best Guitar Pedals for Metal here.

Metal Guitar Amps

You have three basic options for guitar amps when playing metal:

  1. Use a clean guitar amp tone combined with a distortion pedal
  2. Use the guitar amp’s high-gain channel
  3. Use a combination of a distortion/overdrive pedal and the guitar amp’s gain channel

Options 1 and 3 let you play metal on almost any guitar amp with decent results. But the best results are when you use an amp designed with metal in mind.

If you already have a guitar amp and you don’t like the sound of your amp’s gain channel (or it doesn’t provide enough gain), you can use a distortion pedal to help you get a metal tone (option 1).

If you don’t already have a guitar amp, look for one that has a high-gain channel (for options 2 or 3).

Metal can be played on almost any guitar amp from a typical Marshall, Peavey, or Orange, all the way to highly specialized metal amps.

There’s a lot to consider when buying a guitar amp, so I’ll write a separate guide going through all the features to consider. Subscribe for updates here to be notified when the guide is published.


Once you get a suitable amp, spend some time learning how to get the most out of it and dial in the best metal tone possible.

Learn everything you need to know about guitar amp settings in this guide.

The Best Way to Learn Metal Guitar

You can start learning metal on guitar right now by starting with techniques and riffs within your current skill level.

Here are the basic steps to follow to learn metal on guitar:

  1. Work on basic finger exercises
  2. Work on alternate picking exercises
  3. Start learning basic riffs
  4. Practice those riffs along with a metronome
  5. Learn techniques such as palm muting, hammer-ons, slides
  6. Pick a metal song and start learning it from start to finish
  7. Learn how to speed up your playing

The goal is to build up some foundational skills (eg: finger dexterity, picking accuracy) before you dive into some metal songs.

If you put the effort into the first two steps (finger exercises and picking exercises), you’ll find that the next few steps suddenly feel easy. Take your time working on the exercises as those skills are crucial to get right.

Plan out a practice routine and stick to it for the best results.

How Do I Get Good at Metal Guitar?

The key to getting better at metal guitar is to practice every day. Consistent and effective practice can take you all the way from a complete beginner to a master guitarist.

Here are some tips to help you get better at metal guitar:

  1. Work on your technique every day
  2. Work on your rhythm and sense of timing with a metronome
  3. Start slow and gradually build your speed
  4. Focus on accuracy first, speed second
  5. Don’t use too much gain (gain can hide sloppy technique)
  6. Jam with other musicians
  7. Stick to your practice routine every day
  8. Be patient with yourself

While some metal songs are easy to play, other songs can take years to master. Be patient and don’t give up. If you gradually work on your skills every day, you’ll eventually build your skills up to an extremely high level.

Metal can be an incredibly fun and rewarding style of music to play on guitar, so even if your favorite songs seem impossible to play right now, if you stick to your practice routine, you’ll eventually get there.

Get Started Learning Metal Guitar

If you’re ready to start learning metal guitar, check out these guides and lessons:

The above guide on Metallica songs is a great starting point for any guitarist wanting to learn metal. Even if you’re not a Metallica fan, the skills and exercises covered in that lesson will help you learn metal songs from other bands.