The 13th Fret

Facebook Twitter Google


Hello HMS readers and happy new year! This month I thought we’d take a look at a rather simple concept to help your overall playing abilities, and step away from the theory-heavy stuff for a bit. Basically, a lot less chatter and a lot more playing!

Without a doubt, one of the crucial elements to playing metal (or any other technically demanding style) is that of ENDURANCE. The simple ability to be able to play for stretches of time without running out of steam. To that end, I like to arrange relatively short sequences and carry them across the fretboard, both ascending and defending. The idea is to cover a lot of ground, which not only helps with fretboard knowledge….but takes a longer time to complete, hence the endurance factor!

Below is one example that I’ve found myself using recently. It’s based in the key of F# minor and utilizes the Aeolian mode (F#,G#,A,B,C#,D,E). The basic motif is found in the first bar; eight notes ascending and descending, followed by a position shift before reversing the direction (descending then ascending). This is carried up and down the 6th and 5th string initially, then transferred to the next adjacent string set.

As with anything of this nature, start at a slow tempo before increasing speed. You want to pay attention to the quality of the notes you’re producing, as well as how your hands feel. You want to work them, but not at the expense of ingraining unwanted tension. When you feel confident at the current tempo, gradually increment it up until you hit your “ceiling" for that day.

I use alternate picking for this, but legato would also be perfectly suitable as well, and just as much of a workout. Try both!

It almost goes without saying that this will also fortify your knowledge of the fretboard in the chosen key – especially that pesky and awkward 2nd and 3rd string group (B and G). If you can spend your practice time on things that work two or more aspects of your playing (technique/fretboard knowledge), you’ll definitely be practicing hard AND smart.

Click here to download or view the sheet music for this lesson.

“Without a doubt, one of the crucial elements to playing metal... is that of ENDURANCE.”

That’s it for now! Give it a try and pack a lunch... it takes a while to get through. ;)

As always, if you have any questions about this piece, drop me a line at my Facebook page.

Kelly Kereliuk, HMS

More guitar techniques from Kelly