I am a beginner/ intermediate guitar player and today I started to learn how to play Seek and Destroy from Metallica, as shown in this tablature

Parallel to that I have been learning scales (major scale mostly) and I have been heavily focusing on alternate picking, which to me, it is an important technique to master for faster solos/ leads. And while alternate picking at not super high-speed in a scale does feel natural to me already, I feel it is less natural to me while playing seek an destroy.

Other than that, I have seen one or two tutorials on how to play seek and destroy. And I saw examples of both strict alternate picking like this one and other tutorials where mostly down-picking is used, like this one

I know that in guitar there is no right or wrong. Though one thing important to me is to stick to the 'most appropriate' technique since the beginning i.e. avoid developing a bad habit. I do know how to alternate pick and I would say in most of the occasions it is the most natural thing to do, but that's is not the case while playing this song.

For the sake of clarity, I am talking about alternate picking when moving from one string to another (considering down-picking only for strokes in the same string), for example, in the intro below:

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Considering now the last part:

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Would it best to alternate pick (is this the most appropriate technique? For me it is somewhat less natural) or is it totally acceptable to down pick only.

Same for the first riff:

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When moving from the A to the E string i.e.:

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Would it be best to DDUD (D: Down stroke, U: Upstroke) or if I down pick only (DDDD) is it also acceptable (perhaps better?)?

  • Only a few days ago I was watching a YouTube video comparing Down picking vs Alternate picking on Master of Puppets. I can't find it! Down-picking sounded much better. Actually there many such videos showing how to get quicker if you search for down picking james hetfield If I find the comparison one, I'll let you know. – chasly - supports Monica Jan 21 at 20:22

See this old video of Metallica:

Both Hetfield and Hammet play the parts you mention by downpicking every note.

Both alternate picking and downpicking have their purpose. While alternate picking is obviously more efficient, downpicking provides better consistency in articulation and rhythm, and is often preferred in rock and metal rhytm parts.

James Hetfield is known for his downpicking technique, and definitely worth to study. Check also Jeff Waters (Annihilator) and John Browne (Monuments).


You write a lot about what you claim to know before asking a question.

The fact is that there is "right" and "wrong" in guitar playing. You are setting yourself up for some huge problems down the line.

Good players practice the same section of music with multiple picking methods. If the tempo is relatively slow and you want a heavy sound all down stoke would probably work. It the passage is a fast scale or arpeggio run then either alternate or consecutive picking as desired. There is a common misunderstanding among shredders that consecutive or economy picking is "better" than alternate picking but this is false. Well developed players can alternate pick with string changes and skipping at speeds just as fast as consecutive picking.

If something feels unnatural it could be that you just need to practice for a while, years. Then it will feel natural.

  • 2
    Economy picking?! I don't think this even applies here. This is solid downpicking each note in this example, no sweeps. Also, to whom do you refer to when you say "misunderstanding among shredders"? Hetfield?! – user1079505 Jan 21 at 19:15
  • Down votes with no explanation. No community standards – ggcg Jan 24 at 14:09
  • I think there is an agreement on SE you don't need to comment to downvote. Also, FYI it's not me who downvoted. However you didn't answer my comment and from your answer I understand you say you know how to play Metallica rhythm parts better than James Hetfield. That's a bold claim and you don't support it with any sources or examples. – user1079505 Jan 24 at 19:26
  • I never made any such claim, you are lying. Thanks. – ggcg Jan 24 at 19:37
  • And it may not be a violation of community agreement but it's still cowardly. When people DV w/o comment it usually means they have a personal issue with the author. – ggcg Jan 24 at 19:38

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