Drop it down to C! In this roundup I have tested and reviewed the 3 best metal guitar lessons of 2021 that will bring you the most value and progress this year.
As there are now several sources of premium guitar lessons that include metal-specific lessons, we will be looking into the best of the best for their metal guitar lessons.
What Makes Metal Guitar Lessons Rock!
There are a few staples that make great metal guitar lessons. These include:
The above criteria is what makes a well-rounded, comprehensive guitar course, regardless of genre. Therefore, they will be the basis of my ratings in this review.
While all of these courses vary in skill level, I want to really focus on the lessons I felt made the most dramatic impact to my metal guitar playing and that I feel will do the same for you.
Disclosure: TheBestGuitarLessons.com is a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. My goal is to match you with the best product or service for your own goals/needs. Should you decide to sign up with one through one of my links I will receive a commission for bringing said company the business. I will never recommend a product I know is not of the highest quality. Here you can read my whole Affiliate Notice. - Dev
JamPlay has been a leader in the premium online guitar lesson space for some time now and their selection of metal guitar lessons is no exception.
JamPlay features 13 full metal courses, each with anywhere from 10-50 lessons! Courses cover a wide variety of material, all heavily influenced by the instructor.
Of all the recommendations on this list, JamPlay offers the widest variety of lessons and instructors and also features the longest average lesson length.
JamPlay Metal Guitar Lesson Features:
My Top 3 Recommended JamPlay Metal Lessons:
Kris Norris Artist Series
Kris Norris is the guitarist for the band Darkest Hour. If you’re familiar with Darkest Hour, you know how awesome their guitar riffs are. Fans of Darkest Hour will love the Kris Norris artist series. And if you’ve never heard of Darkest Hour, there’s definitely something for you in this course, too!
This course features 41 total lessons. That’s the 2nd most out of any course on this list. On top of that, each lesson averages around 19:30 min. That’s the longest average run time on this list!
With the Kris Norris course you can be confident you will be brought from Beginner to Advanced with dozens of high quality lessons.
Personally, I learned some of my favorite warm-ups for my practice sessions from this course and I still use it to this day. I also love how Kris works to incorporate just a little of theory into each of his lessons. There’s just enough music theory to not be overwhelming, but also make sure you are learning what you need to know.
Finally, this course is amazing if you want to really learn and master your sweep picking technique. In this 41 lessons series, 3 whole lessons (that’s roughly an hour of total instruction) exclusively on sweep picking and sweep picking applications. Before this course, I could barely sweep pick. I had only taken 1 lesson on it and barely practiced it. After this course, it’s a staple in many of my leads.
Sample Lesson (Without TAB):
Emil Werstler Artist Series
You may know Emil Werstler from his band Daath, who has been taking the metal scene by storm since 2004. The course features 48 total lessons with an average run time of 14 minutes.
In this course, Emil starts very simple with some heavy down picking exercises and bend practice. The courses quickly move to more intermediate and advanced topics such as sweep picking, economy picking, alternate picking, how to add passing tones to your licks and various soloing techniques.
As you can tell, the course focuses a lot on your picking abilities. However, there is a series of lessons in this course that I loved that really gives your fretting hand a major workout. This series is known as the Horizontal Lick Building Series.
In the Horizontal Lick Building series, Emil teaches you minor, major, pedal tone and pentatonic scale applications. In lesson 1 he teaches you a classic minor scale based metal lick that you’ll quickly recognize from dozens of songs. The first 4 lessons in the series teach the different applications of the lick. The 5th lesson in the series combines all 4 previous licks to create one “master lick” that scales nearly the whole fretboard.
Lessons in the Horizontal Lick Building course provide great alternative picking practice. Additionally, they give your fretting hand a major workout. Lastly, these exercises are going to allow you to develop air-tight synchronization between your left and right hands.
Songs With Machine Head Series
You might remember a few years back I wrote a new article about how Machine Head were going to be coming to JamPlay (if you’re interested, you can read that article here). Well, they’re here and the lessons are awesome. Machine Head Guitarists Rob Flynn and Phil Demmel walk you through 4 legendary Machine Head songs.
While I was at first disappointed to learn that Phil and Rob wouldn’t be teaching normal lessons on techniques and song writing, that was quickly washed away with excitement as I started the song lessons.
In these song lessons Rob & Phil break down 4 awesome Machine Head songs:
- Aesthetics of Hate
- Now I Lay Thee Down
- Be Still and Know
- Darkness Within
Be ready to put your skills to the test. These lessons are definitely the most advanced of the bunch, all ranked at 4-5/5 difficulty ratings on JamPlay’s difficulty scale.
However, the average run time for each of these song lessons is around 45 minutes, so you can be sure that Rob & Phil will walk you through each song at a comfortable pace. Each lesson also starts and ends with a demonstration of the piece you are learning.
While the lessons are amazing and brought great improvement to my lead guitar playing, specifically, I think my favorite part about these lessons is the guys. Rob & Phil have great personalities and are always sprinkling in their own humor into the lessons. They also talk a bit about the history of Machine Head, their songwriting process and how they wrote the song dubbed, “The Thrashterpiece”.
Though they are challenging, I highly recommend these metal guitar lessons for anyone who really wants to master the subject.
While the lessons are very good and include supplemental TABs and the option to download some lessons, I found that the lessons are just a bit too short and don’t go into enough detail sometimes.
However, alternatively, the shorter lessons are great for guitarists who aren’t interested in teacher anecdotes and want to get straight to the point and learn the exercises. The shorter lessons also make the content and courses much more digestible and less daunting.
Some guitarists may see 50 lessons at 30 minutes per lesson and immediately feel overwhelmed with the content. However, with a 10 lesson module with 5 minute lessons is a lot more manageable.
GuitarTricks Metal Guitar Lesson Features:
My Top 3 Recommended GuitarTricks Metal Lessons:
Metal For Beginners II
The Metal for Beginners II course is really good at teaching you really important fundamentals for metal guitar. The course features a total of 10 lessons, each lesson averaging around 3:30 min.
Personally, I felt the Metal for Beginners I course was way too basic. Especially since Guitar Tricks wants you to complete their Beginner Guitar Course first (don’t worry, you don’t have to. You can go straight to their metal guitar lessons), a lot of the Metal Guitar I lessons are redundant info you should already know if you followed GuitarTRicks’ own system.
However, Metal for beginners II is where the lessons start teaching valuable material. This course covers very important topics such as:
- Alternate picking exercises
- Palm Muting
- Hammer Ons
- Pull offs
Ways to improve tone and write metal with a clean guitar tone
That last one is the main reason I felt compelled to add this course to the list. While the other techniques are essential, tone is one of the hottest topics to all my students. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had about what the best pedals are for metal, what are the best amp settings, pickups, etc. The list goes on and on. However, many guitarists don’t realize how much of your tone simply comes from your hands and how you play.
This lesson helps guide you through developing your own, unique guitar tone without the use of pedals, effects, etc.
My main complaint about these lessons is the same for most GuitarTricks lessons - they’re very short. That’s not to say the material is bad, it just feels a bit thin at times. Each lesson has a roughly 1 minute introduction/demonstration of what you’re about to learn, followed by a roughly 3-4 minute lesson on how to play what was demonstrated.
Metal Rhythm Workout III
The Metal Rhythm Workout III lessons were a lot of fun and really helpful. The course includes 10 total lessons with 7 JamTracks to practice the lesson material with. I find the exercise-specific JamTracks to be really helpful for getting a feel for different rhythms and tempos. Each lesson in this course has an average length of 3:30 min.
This course covers a handful of some of my favorite metal guitar techniques:
- Gallup Picking: If you’ve ever listened to bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth or really any 80’s Thrash/Power Metal band, then you’ve heard gallop picking. Gallop picking is a specific rhythmic picking pattern that creates some really fun melodies to play. Gallop picking also just feels like you're playing faster It’s hard to explain, but try it out and you’ll see what I mean. Gallops are awesome because they are fun to play and not too hard to master.
- Reverse Gallops: A normal gallop, but backwards! Reverse gallops sound a lot more modern and can be a bit trickier to play. Though they aren’t much harder, they are very rewarding to learn. In this lesson, instructor Ben Lindholm explains the formula behind the reverse gallop and how to count it out, as well as how to apply it to your rhythms.
- Sliding Power Chord: Sliding power chords are really common in today’s metal rhythm guitar. However, many guitarists struggle in the beginning with very choppy, stuttery sounding chord slides. In this lesson you will learn how to make buttery smooth, legato transitions for much more melodic rhythms.
Essential Shred Licks I
Essential Shred Licks I is a series of 7 lessons, averaging about 2:30 minutes in length. There are also 4 practice tracks with tempos ranging from 60-200BPM to practice the lesson material over.
Though short, this course packs a challenging punch and a lot of great info. In it’s 7 lessons you will learn several “types of shred”, each with its own unique riff. The types of shred the instructor, Ben Lindholm, teaches are:
- The Shred Standard
- Pentatonic Cascades
- Pentatonic Shred
- Pedal Notes
- Endless Triplets
The final lesson is Ben offering some words of advice on how to continue to build on these concepts and apply them to your own playing.
Personally, I loved the section on Cascading Pentatonics. What drew me to them first was the really unique sound. The lick sounds like a weird mashup of genres, but in a pleasing way.
I also found the Cascading Pentatonics lesson to be really helpful for string skipping as it requires very little fretting hand movement, allowing you to really focus on the strings you need to play.
3. Metal Method
Metal Method guitar lessons are the only lessons on this list that aren’t part of a membership site. Metal Method lessons are bought on an individual basis, as opposed to a subscription. You have the choice to buy either a physical DVD or a digital download of your lessons.
One thing that I think really sets Metal Method apart is their inclusion of metal vocal lessons, constant revisions and improvements of all their courses and incredible customer service.
Additionally, Metal Method offers a support forum where you can upload and share your playing for Doug, the instructor, to personally review and critique for you. This feature is an option with JamPlay and GuitarTricks, but it will cost you extra. With metal Method, access to the forum and Doug’s reviews is included free with your purchase.
Metal Method Guitar Lesson Features:
My Top 3 Recommended Metal Method Guitar Lessons:
Complete Rock Guitar Course
The Complete Basic Course was originally developed back in the 80’s as a cassette tape program. Over the years it has gone through numerous revisions, bringing it to be the juggernaut of a product it is today.
Most recently revised in 2017, the Complete Basic Course is made up of 4 “stages”. Each stage is expected to take a student roughly 9 weeks to complete, with a grand total of 48 weeks of lessons across all 4 stages.
Course Stage Summary
Stage 1, referred to as “Rock Guitar for Beginners”, will focus on techniques such as open chords, alternate picking, hammer-ons, pull-offs and more.
Stage 2, referred to as “Intermediate Rock Guitar”, starts diving into topics such as tremolo picking and harmonics.
Stage 3, referred to as “The Pentatonic Zone”, starts diving into scales, modes, major and minor scale chords and other lead techniques.
Stage 4, referred to as “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar”, is an all new stage. This stage incorporates 75 licks from their “Classic Metal Licks” collection, as well some very challenging rhythm and lead guitar parts.
Throughout all 4 stages you will be learning 2 guitar parts alongside your learning material. For example, one lesson you will be learning about 3 open chords, hammer ons and pulls offs. Once you’ve learned the techniques, you will learn to apply them to either a rhythm or lead riff/lick.
At the end of the stage, all the parts from each lesson are combined to create a complete guitar song with both rhythm and lead parts. Being able to play this song at the end of a stage is always an incredibly satisfying feeling.
The Metal Method System
The above is the essence of the Metal Method process: Break songs into small, digestible pieces, then add them all together for an incredible end result.
All lessons have measurable goals at the end, as well as supplemental TAB PDFs and Scorch interactive TAB files.
The complete basic course is how I first learned to play metal guitar almost 20 years ago now and I can’t recommend it enough.
Check Out the Complete Rock Guitar Course: Here
Metal Riffology is the work of Metal Method’s Sarah Spisack. In this 3 volume course Sarah teaches you various scales and modes. She breaks down over 100 popular metal riffs with genres ranging from doom metal to death metal to metalcore. This course is not broken up into lessons and is instead organized by riff for easy navigation.
Sarah also teaches you how to write your own riffs using these scales and modes. By first teaching the base scale, and then various riffs that are built on that scale, Sarah puts the pieces together for students to really understand how to apply these techniques.
Metal Riffology Covers a vast array of scales, modes and riffs. Some topics covered include:
- Syncopation and Rhythm Displacement
- Natural Minor Riffs
- Harmonized Riffs
If I am being honest, Metal Riffology is my favorite Metal Method course. I think the Complete Course developed my foundation in Rhythm and a little lead. Metal Riffology rounded out the education with scales, modes, a little theory, and how to apply them to rhythm and lead riffs.
Metal Riffology comes with supplemental TABs and Guitar Pro files.
Check Out Metal Riffology: Here
Speed Kills 2
Speed Kills 2 is a 22 lesson course taught by the legendary Michael Angelo Batio. Voted the Fastest Guitarist of All Time by GuitarWorld readers, Michael is famous for his incredible speed, dexterity and accuracy. He has multiple courses specifically designed to bring your speed to the next level.
Speed Kills 2 is intended to be a continuation of the Speed Kills series that is a little more beginner-friendly. Make no mistake, this course is hard and will challenge you. However, it is far more approachable than Speed Kills 1 or any of Michael’s other lessons.
Each exercise in Speed Kills 2 is taught at both slow and fast speeds, with on-screen TAB to follow along with. I found these lessons to be invaluable in developing my picking hand speed and dexterity as well as improving the synchronization between my left and right hand.
A few of the topics in this course include:
- Hybrid Picking
- Warm Ups to get the blood flowing and the hands ready to play FAST
Check Out Speed Kills 2: Here
Wrapping It Up - My Personal Pick
There are many great metal guitar lessons out there to choose from. Which metal guitar lesson is right for you is going to depend largely on the style of lesson you are looking for.
If you want comprehensive lessons with a massive library of songs, licks and riffs to also learn, go with JamPlay.
If you want shorter, easier to complete lessons, go with GuitarTricks.
If you want a zero-distractions, guided course go with Metal Method.
Personally, though, I go with JamPlay every time. There is simply an unbeatable amount of courses and lessons on that platform. It’s become my happy place.
That concludes this rundown of the best metal guitar lessons. Have you tried any of the above? Which is your favorite? Did you have a bad experience with any of them? I want to hear from you in the comments below, so let me know!