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I happen to have my father's old guitar laying around in storage. While I was listening to metal music on youtube, I had a thought: I wonder if I could play metal on the thing?

Problem is, I have really bad dexterity, and the only instrument I have any experience with is a snare drum (which I haven't played in probably two decades). I have no idea if I would seriously be able to play metal music at all. Also, I noticed that the kinds of guitars metal musicians use don't exactly look like mine. I think its one of those 'acoustic guitars' country singers like to use (my father used it to play REALLY old country songs). I found some video on youtube of a guy play metal with a guitar that looked A LOT like my father's, and it made everything sound weird and not very 'metal'. This leads me to believe that if I seriously want to try to play metal, I'd have to get myself a different guitar.

Problem is, I don't know anything about guitars (other than the basics of how to actually operate one). I don't know what they cost, or what kind I would have to get. I'm not even 100% sure what kind of guitar mine is to be honest. I found some video online of a guy who managed to somehow play metal on a cheap 'box' guitar he bought for 'forty quid' (w/e that means). Though honestly, I highly doubt he seriously got that sound out of that cheap thing (he clearly had some kind of pre-recorded drum music playing in the background, and maybe a second guitar too). On there, some people were saying they needed to buy an 'amp' (I've heard of those, but I don't actually know what they do, yeah, I'm clueless) that cost $3k!!!!! Okay, that would be a HUGE investment for me, and I may find that I can't even play the thing anyway (like I said, I have abysmal dexterity).

What does it actually take to seriously play metal music? What kind of skills do you need? What kind of equipment do you need? How much should I expect to pay for said equipment? Can an amateur who's just learning even play metal from the start? Do you need decent dexterity to even play a guitar? Like I said, I'm clueless.

  • 2
    ...OK, is your guitar an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? Your comment that you "think its one of those 'acoustic guitars' country singers like to use" makes me suspect the former, and the only time I've heard acoustic guitars in metal is in introductions (or, rarely in originals but more common in arrangements of non-metal works, interludes or outros). – Dekkadeci Oct 31 at 8:32
  • 4
    "fourty quid" is £40 (Great british pounds sterling), approximately $50USD, We use "quid" like Americans use "bucks". – bigbadmouse Oct 31 at 9:48
  • 1
    You should watch some material from Jack Black and his band, Tenacious D. – Renan Oct 31 at 15:15
  • You can play metal on anything. Including harmonica, harp, banjo, ukulele, and even a shovel. – vsz Oct 31 at 15:20

12 Answers 12

15

Hi and welcome to the music stack exchange. I want to preface this answer by saying that metal is not an 'easy' genre to play well. As danmcb mentions, many many metal musicians are highly competent... and even formidable in their technical prowess. It is a bit of a misconception that metal is an 'easy genre to play' considering a good portion of casual listeners might consider it to be something like 'a bunch of distorted nonsense.' If you are a fan, then you likely know that the term "metal" is also a bit of a misnomer considering that the genre has sprouted many heads (musical sub-genres) over the years; the catch-all term 'heavy metal' being somewhat resented by many facets of the metal community... For example, the band KISS claims to be a heavy metal band. You might find yourself in a heated debate with a fan of Metallica or Megadeth over that claim...

If you are considering a certain genre of metal to begin to learn guitar because it is your favorite genre and you simply want to play it, that's one thing... Otherwise if you are looking for an 'easy' genre to start with, I'd suggest you start with any genre of pop-music. You might find this article helpful.

Now for your questions:

"I wonder if I could play metal on the thing?"

Though it isn't the most common guitar type/sound used in metal, there is a lot of material in the various metal genres that exhibit fine work in implementing acoustic guitars. See here for an article detailing the acoustic guitar's role in the evolution of black metal.

"What does it actually take to seriously play metal music? What kind of skills do you need?"

What is takes to play any music seriously is a drive and passion for playing music. Unless you are a prodigy, long hours of effort and practice are required... and perhaps, a certain thickness of skin in the instances in which you will inevitably be frustrated, burn-out, be negatively criticized, experience pain/injury, etc

I hazard answering this with a question but... what do you want to get out of it? If you are simply looking to recite your favorite songs, practicing those songs until you can replay them may be all that's required... If you are looking to write original music, some level of creativity and knowledge of music theory may be required. I say 'may be' because you can possibly write music without these skills/qualities but, you and others may not be so happy with the final results...

What kind of equipment do you need? How much should I expect to pay for said equipment?

You can certainly start with what you have... But, again, depending on what you want out of your experience and hard-work will dictate what you decide you will "need" later on... Most metal guitarists have multiple guitars, multiple amps, and many many pedals/effects processors in order to achieve the sounds they "require" for what they do. You can, however, find very cheap guitar/amp combos to get your feet wet; but, beware that they are usually very low quality. Good instruments are not cheap and, you generally "get what you pay for" in music.

Can an amateur who's just learning even play metal from the start?

Yes

Do you need decent dexterity to even play a guitar?

Yes

  • 10
    “Unless you are a prodigy” – prodigies still need to practise. They just start earlier... – leftaroundabout Oct 31 at 16:31
  • I don't disagree. I simply don't understand some prodigies and the fact that they are 'good' for seemingly 'no reason' ;) – Tim Burnett - Bassist Oct 31 at 16:37
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    "If you are a fan, then you likely know that the term "metal" is also a bit of a misnomer considering that the genre has sprouted many heads (musical sub-genres) over the years" – Some would (jokingly) argue that metal has n+m sub-genres where n is the number of bands and m is the number of fans, most of which contain at most one band and/or fan. – Jörg W Mittag Nov 1 at 10:21
  • Touche - I admit I can't make much sense of the metal 'family-trees' that one can find out there on the web. Many of the distinctions seem to fit but, I'd agree that there are perhaps too many distinctions, as well... – Tim Burnett - Bassist Nov 1 at 11:17
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I'm glad you asked this question. There's definitely a lot to know about the world of guitars, and just by immersing yourself and asking questions just like this one, you will learn it over time.

First of all, an acoustic guitar and electric guitar do the same thing. They make guitar sounds. You can play any genre on either, but most typically you will hear metal music played on an electric guitar, with plenty of distortion and fuzz effects. That being said, if you want to learn how to play metal on an acoustic guitar, you can absolutely do so, despite what any genre elitists might tell you.

The reason they call one of them "electric" is because it uses pickups (basically magnets) to detect the strings vibrating and sends that as an electrical signal, usually to an amplifier (amp for short) which amplifies (makes louder) the sound, usually so an audience can hear it. Conversely, an acoustic guitar needs no amplification, as the strings carry sound by vibrating over a "sound hole" in the body of the guitar, causing reverberations through the wooden body which carries the sound. There are exceptions, like acoustic-electric guitars, which have acoustic bodies and a 1/4" plug so it can be played through an amp. But traditionally, a classic acoustic guitar setup would just have a microphone near the guitar to amplify the sound to a crowd.

So, we can easily deduce what type of guitar yours is. If it's got a big wooden body with a roughly 4" diameter hole in it (usually right under the strings) then it's an acoustic guitar. If it's got a slimmer body with no hole but a 1/4" plug (usually near the volume dial) then it's an electric guitar.

Now that you know what type of guitar you have, you have some options:

  • If you have an acoustic guitar, you can still learn to play metal, in fact it will be much cheaper money-wise because you won't have any need for an amp or effects. It may not sound very "metal" because you won't have the distortion and effects, but you can play the same melodies and riffs and still make metal music.
  • If you have an electric guitar, you will, at the very least, need an amp of some kind. It doesn't need to be fancy, you can get by with a mini-amp for $20 that plugs directly into the guitar. Once you have an amp and can hear yourself playing, you can look at adding effects pedals. These pedals will add different effects to your sound, to give it that overdriven fuzzy "crunch" that's traditionally included in metal music. As far as which pedals to get, every guitarist will recommend different pedals, so you'll just have to visit your local music store and try some out to see what works for you. This will be a long and arduous process, but the benefit is that you can customize a sound that's iconic to you. Most guitar players that have assembled a pedalboard have done so through a long period of trial and error, and most will be willing to share some experience and recommendations if asked, so just ask some people and demo some pedals to find the sound you want.

Finally, I'll briefly address your issue with dexterity. It's true that most metal music is played fast, but most of that quickness is developed over time. When practicing a song, it's not uncommon to practice at half-speed or slower, then build speed up as you gain confidence. So I wouldn't worry about being super quick when you start out, that will come with time. The biggest issue to worry about would be whether your physical proportions properly fit your guitar. The best way I've heard to gauge this is to take the neck of the guitar in hand, at the far end (the first few frets) and lay your fingers flat on the fretboard. Your middle and pointer fingers should extend slightly off the opposite (top) edge of the neck. If they don't, you may need a smaller guitar. There are 3/4 and 1/2 size guitars out there, and any good luthier can customize the size of a guitar for the right price. So as long as your guitar fits you physically, the rest will just come with practice and time.

Again, thanks for asking this question, and welcome to the world of guitar! Please keep asking questions, not just here, but to any guitarists you meet! Most people are thrilled to talk about their passions, and it's truly the best way to learn about a topic.

5

Lots of metal musicians are highly competent musicians, some are quite virtuosic. Basically, find a decent teacher, and start practicing. You will need to learn guitar and some music fundamentals about time, rhythm, harmony and so on. First learn to basically play the instrument, and then decide on a genre. Don't skip basics.

(A good teacher should advise you about the instrument.)

  • How do you tell who is a decent teacher if you don't know anything to begin with? ;) – piiperi Reinstate Monica Oct 31 at 9:20
  • do you have any friends that play? (the OP I mean). Good teachers typically have a reasonable number of students. – danmcb Oct 31 at 9:26
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What does it actually take to seriously play metal music?

Practice. It isn't different than any other style in that regard. If you are serious, practice seriously.

What kind of skills do you need?

Fingering knowledge for chords and scales, and a good sense of rhythm/timing. The same as any other style. You can't ignore those fundamentals. Improvising with scales is especially important for the lead guitarist. In terms of specific techniques don't make the mistake of thinking metal guitarists only play metal. Think of it as becoming a guitarist first, then playing metal style.

What kind of equipment do you need?

A basic set up is an electric guitar, a small practice amp, and at a minimum a distortion effect. Nowadays effects can be built into an amp or applied to a guitar signal with a computer. Guitarists spend a lot of time on their gear and there are too many options to list here comprehensively. Just get started with an ax (the guitar) and an amp. FWIW, then I took lessons as a kid my teacher wouldn't let me use effects during lessons. None at all, not even a touch of reverb. Even when he taught me hard rock/metal songs the sound was low volume through a completely 'dry' amp.

How much should I expect to pay for said equipment?

To get started with basic equipment you should only need to spend about $250. Browse guitarcenter.com and use the price range filter. Squier and Epiphone are two entry level brands of guitar. A small practice amp can be had for $100. Don't pay attention to gearheads and snobs who would look down their noses at beginner gear. Start learning to play first then build up a collection of gear.

Can an amateur who's just learning even play metal from the start?

Yes. You can start out learning riffs like Sweet Leaf and Hair of the Dog and that kind of thing.

Do you need decent dexterity to even play a guitar?

Yes. You don't need super human abilities, but you do need to develop your skills through practice. The average person can learn to play if they practice and don't get hung up on self imposed mental blocks.

2

I'm just going to comment on your last questions.

What does it actually take to seriously play metal music?

Realistically, a guitar and an amp. While a lot of metal musicians are actually incredible and know a lot of music theory, you really don't need to know a whole lot about music itself to write or play it. While I would recommend lessons, but you do start to recognize patterns in riffs, and chords.

What kind of skills do you need?

Time and dedication! Practice is important to getting better. Dedication is important because many people will have a time where they think that they play like shit (even if they aren't) and don't want to play anymore.

What kind of equipment do you need? How much should I expect to pay for said equipment?

This is fairly subjective honestly. The guitar you get doesn't matter a whole lot when you are a beginner. You can buy a 3k guitar that's meant specifically for metal, and still make it sound like shit. You can can even buy a $150 guitar, and make it sound great for metal. My suggestion for that, is to go somewhere and play a few guitars, look at them, see how the feel in your hands. For an Amp, I'm not too knowledgeable about this because I use everything purely digital on my computer.

If you have a powerful computer, you could get an audio interface (I've had both a scarlet 2i2 and 2i4 and they both are great). After that there are some free VSTs for metal you can use. You then need to use those with a DAW, like Reaper (Reaper is a free DAW).

Can an amateur who's just learning even play metal from the start? Do you need decent dexterity to even play a guitar?

When I picked up guitar, first song I learned was Enter Sandman (not any of the lead stuff though). I played it alright I guess. As long as you aren't playing anything super technical and shreddy, yes you can probably learn it, or learn secitons of it.

Even if you aren't sure, you can try! There are some programs out there that will let you slow songs so you can practice.

You do need dexterity, however, thats something you build up. When I first started, I had poor dexterity. However, I practiced alot and now, its not as much of a problem for me.

Remember, it's never too late to pick something up

  • 2
    It's 2019. Any computer with a Pentium 4 and WinXP or newer (ie: anything) can run a simple audio interface and amp sim. It doesn't need to be a "powerful" computer. – J... Oct 31 at 17:00
  • I agree, but I also had a new laptop that had a lot of issues with the 2 DAWs I used on it. Running really slow, poor latency, popping sounds, that I never had with my Desktop. – Exterasmors Oct 31 at 17:16
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    On a laptop it might help to disable power saving features for audio work. – ojs Nov 1 at 7:59
  • I would say that a DAW is bridge to far for OP (unless you count Bandcamp or the likes) at this stage. They would be faced with both the learning curve of the DAW and the learning curve of playing the guitar at the same time, both are considerable. – Douwe Nov 1 at 9:12
  • BTW I run Logic Pro X on a 2012 Macbook and easily record a full metal band on it, you might want to check your power savings features like ojs said and your sample rates (low for recording, high for mixing). Could be you just got a bad laptop though, but like J.. said, any modern PC or laptop should be able to run at least an amp sim, but in most cases also an Ableton, Fl studio or if on mac, Logic pro X – Douwe Nov 1 at 9:22
2

On there, some people were saying they needed to buy an 'amp' (I've heard of those, but I don't actually know what they do, yeah, I'm clueless) that cost $3k!!!!

Others have written a lot of good advice, so I'll keep it brief and just add this:

In 2019, you realistically only need an amp if you are planning on playing with a band and/or live on stage. And even that is getting more and more debatable. For both your wallet and your learning, you would probably be better served with a computer or laptop (doesn't have to be anything fancy, no expensive gaming rig required), a usb audio interface like for example this one or this one and a reasonable pair of headphones. You can plug your electric guitar straight into this device, an acoustic guitar would require a microphone (and would probably be less then ideal for metal, as an aside). The advantages of this are:

  • There is a lot of software (free or for a modest price) that you can use to "try out" a huge range of amps and effects. So you can experiment to find the sound(s) you like and when you're ready to spent that 3k, you will have a reasonable idea of what to expect.
  • You can easily mix in metronomes, drum loops or even entire songs to play along with, which makes learning both more fun and more productive.
  • You can easily record yourself while playing, which will help a ton in getting good (at any instrument btw). Much underestimated imho.

Lastly I would like to add this, it's the best advice I ever got:

Take every opportunity to play with other people! If you've played for a week, you can probably bang out a few (power-) chords. Now if you can find someone who has been playing drums for a week, they can probably lay down a simple 4/4 beat. Congratulations, you now have a punk rock band, go out and have fun! If you keep at it, everything else will follow naturally.

  • The focusrite is a bit more expensive and, because of ProTools, has a steeper learning curve. OP seems like they might benefit more from something a bit more plug-and-play like the Pod Studio GX. It comes with Cubase LE (instead of ProTools), but you can use the standalone amp simulation to jam along with a song without needing to worry about setting up or even using Cubase (until OP actually wants to record something, of course). – J... Oct 31 at 16:32
  • @J... Point taken, I've added the Pod Studio to my answer. Tbh I never used the software that came along with my interface, I used the focusrite as an example because it's both inexpensive and plug and play for mac/windows/linux but at the same time will serve you for years and years even in a semi pro (in-the-box) setting. That said, they're just examples, OP would be wise to read up on usb interfaces a little before buying one (or find a knowledgeable retailer). – Douwe Nov 1 at 9:04
2

Sorry I got to this thread so late, lots of great answers here though and good information. I thought I'd add a few things as I was --like you-- first inspired to play guitar by a simple (doom) metal riff, and all I had was an acoustic guitar.

Problem is, I have really bad dexterity, and the only instrument I have any experience with is a snare drum (which I haven't played in probably two decades). I have no idea if I would seriously be able to play metal music at all.

If you have "bad dexterity" it's probably just from a lack of practice. You will get there in time. I recommend starting out with a drop tuning like drop D (not to be confused with dropped d). The reason is because then you can play power cords with only one finger and that tuning is fairly forgiving if you make mistakes. I had a friend though who recommended not doing this due to it making scales harder to learn.. I happen to disagree. If you start in that tuning then you can always go backwards. Just keep in mind it changes the scales.

Also, I noticed that the kinds of guitars metal musicians use don't exactly look like mine. I think its one of those 'acoustic guitars'

This may be a problem.. I was in the same boat and tried to play metal on an acoustic (even trying tricks like using acoustic electric pickups); it's almost impossible to get a true metal sound on an acoustic guitar. Some metal uses intros and you can certainly play the same progressions/scales etc, but the sound will never be quite right for heavy distortion (other than black metal).

In fact, even among electric guitars, not all are cut out for the job. There are certain models/brands that are well known for being metal guitars such as: ESP, Ibanez, Gibson (Les Paul and flying V)

There are also specific pickup types such as active and humbucker that you can opt for which make huge differences in terms of sound.

EMG active pickups on an ESP guitar (for example) give an extremely unique and inherently apt sound for metal. You will probably find it a lot easier to do things such as pinch harmonics, tapping, fast melodic scales with active pickups.

http://www.emgpickups.com/81.html

https://shredaddict.com/best-pickups-for-metal/

Problem is, I don't know anything about guitars (other than the basics of how to actually operate one). I don't know what they cost, or what kind I would have to get. I'm not even 100% sure what kind of guitar mine is to be honest. I found some video online of a guy who managed to somehow play metal on a cheap 'box' guitar he bought for 'forty quid' (w/e that means).

I'd recommend starting out with a used Epiphone Les Paul. They can be had for pretty cheap and will get you started.

What does it actually take to seriously play metal music?

Time, practice, and dedication to the art (along with basic equipment and perhaps a drum machine to help keep beat at first).

What kind of skills do you need?

Music theory and guitar techniques for metal couldn't hurt. I tend to like the harmonic minor scales for writing metal. I've read knowing minor and exotic scales helps a lot. Some people use half tone, dimished, melodic, and chromatic scales. You kind of need an ear for how it's supposed to sound (which comes with time and a love for metal). The more you've listened to it, the easier it is to write.

https://www.guitarplayerworld.com/scales/

http://all-guitar-chords.com/

(search online learning scales)

Palmetto, staccato, tremolo, palm muting, pinch harmonics, taping, chromatic and shifting key signatures are all techniques frequently used and the more you can add to your arsenal, the better. \m/

What kind of equipment do you need?

How much should I expect to pay for said equipment?

Guitar 100$

https://www.ebay.com/b/Epiphone-Les-Paul/33034/bn_7023347071

Picks 5$ - Heavy picks like Jazz III Dunlop help a lot for fast accurate picking IMO

https://www.jimdunlop.com/category/products/guitar+picks/jazz.do

transistor AMP (tube amps aren't good for metal unless you pay a lot IMO) - 100$ .. get something like a peavy (with high gain control) or a line 6 (has lots of built in distortion for metal and other genres). You don't need to spend a lot.

Can an amateur who's just learning even play metal from the start?

Absolutely, I just recommend starting with something like doom metal, which is usually easier to play off the bat than something like technical death metal.

I would also recommend getting a decent drum machine or something like Fruity Loops and make or use other people's beats to play along with. It will help keep you inspired and prevent boredom during tedious initial learning curve. Beats will also give you ideas for your own riffs eventually.

Do you need decent dexterity to even play a guitar?

Somewhat, I think you'll be surprised how quickly you pick it up, if you have a passion for it. It might encourage you to start out in drop D because those bottom cords are really easy and have a pretty crunchy sound when palm muted.

1

Welcome to the wonderful world of Heavy Metal! A lot to unpack in this question, so let's get started.

To answer your main question, the only thing it takes to play metal music is to play metal music. Now, certain things can definitely help your playing, but the most important thing is to play. Any guitar will work, as long as you're playing it and enjoying it. Finger strength and dexterity will come with the hours you put into the instrument. It can be a painful process at times as you're building up finger strength, but if you can push past that you'll find it hard to put the instrument down.

In terms of gear, your guitar (which you've described as an acoustic) will work for you. There's many metal bands with extensive acoustic work, from almost pure acoustic like Tenacious D to one-or-two per album bands like Def Leppard. If you want the traditional metal guitar tone, however, you'll need to invest in an electric guitar. This doesn't have to be expensive, but you will need some gear to get the "metal" tone you're looking for. An electric guitar generally needs an amplifier to sound decent, but these don't have to cost you thousands! In this day and age, there's vast amounts of extremely affordable, amazing-sounding gear around. Your best bet will be to go to a local music shop and ask someone for good entry-level gear, play around with some of it and see what you like best. You can get a great rig that will serve you well for years for a couple hundred dollars.

If you want to get serious about metal music, you'll need to practice. You don't need to be an amazing guitarist to play metal, but a lot of amazing guitarists do play it. Now you don't need to be Jason Richardson or Yngwie Malmsteen level of player in order to succeed in metal, but you will need to practice. Learn songs you like and play along to them. I'm a career session/touring metal guitarist, and that's how I picked it up. A good guitar teacher can be invaluable to get started, head back to that local music shop and see if they do lessons or have recommendations for great teachers in the area.

I hope you enjoy your journey into the fantastic world of metal music. It's been a massive part of my life for decades, and I'm thrilled that people are still jumping into this massive world. Just remember to have fun playing, and that metal is for everyone!

  • You don't need an amp unless you're planning to either gig with a band or annoy the s**t out of your neighbours. It's 2019. I haven't had an amp since the 1990s. Software amp simulators are fantastic for learners - killer tone you would never get without a mic'd 4x12 marshall cranked to 11, but in the comfort of a set of headphones. Also - way cheaper! – J... Oct 31 at 16:45
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    An amp isn't necessarily a full plexi stack. A 10W Roland Cube is an amp, a $20 used Spider 2 is an amp, and they're bot a hell of a lot cheaper than a Scarlett interface and an amp sim plugin. – Sweep Shweep Shred Oct 31 at 16:51
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    Yes, but they're extremely limiting, sound like pap, and there are much cheaper and simpler options than a Scarlett interface (like Pod Studio GX, etc). I'd rather even buy a cheap used TonePort over a Spider 2 - why bother with a giant speaker if you don't need it? – J... Oct 31 at 16:54
  • The only plugin I've got to sound I've been able to get to sound decent is some Neural DSP stuff, and that's definitely outside the realm of entry-level gear. Everything else I've used required quite a lot of EQ and tweaking, which is also beyond the scope of entry-level. Regardless, let's treat "amp" as shorthand for "amp-like device that adds distortion." – Sweep Shweep Shred Oct 31 at 17:15
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    Fair. I find a TonePort is totally fine, especially for a beginner, costs like $100, and you get pretty insane flexibility with all the cabinet, virtual mic selection and placement, and head options - not to mention that you get additional pedal effects, reverbs, and even a tuner that you would need to buy as all separate hardware components. For an ultra-budget learner setup you just can't beat it. – J... Oct 31 at 18:39
1

There is a lot of "metal music" played on acoustic guitar, piano, violin, flute or damn pretty everything. It takes a tallent, learning, practicing and luck, just like any other kind of music. The instrument is secondary and may even change few times in the process. (The music genre can pretty much change, too.)

And, be sure you don't need anything like "amp" in the first, say, 6 or 12 months of learning. You won't probably have anything worth amplifying. YMMV.

  • The problem with playing metal music on instruments not typically associated with metal is that listeners may not think it is metal anymore. I was surprised when I read that a chiptune I listened to in my teenage years and still love today, virt's "Sorcerors Battle", was fairly consistently labelled as metal, even though I never considered it as such (probably due to the instrumentation). – Dekkadeci Nov 1 at 19:06
  • An extreme counter-example: Apocallyptica. – fraxinus Nov 2 at 13:55
1

A lot of metal musicians are quite virtuosic BUT this should never hold you back. But there are also tons of different subgenres with different difficulties. For example, 'classical' metal is really good for beginners, where things like Post-Metal or Metalcore could be more different.

Regarding the price: yes, high-end equipment is quite expensive, but there are a lot of affordable options. If you just want to practice, then combo amps are the way to go. In my case, I started with a 200$ Vox Amp and I still use it. If you want to perform live, then you would have to invest a bit more.

But the most important thing is, to learn the basics. Talk to a teacher or watch one of the countless tutorials, it's really important to get the basics right.

  • 5
    I don't think "virtuous" is the word you're looking for here -- "having or showing high moral standards". – Fred Larson Oct 31 at 14:03
  • 3
    Virtuosic*, I think... dictionary.com/browse/virtuosic – Tim Burnett - Bassist Oct 31 at 16:45
  • I had already edited this answer to fix that, but I guess it took a little while to take effect? – ibonyun Oct 31 at 18:55
1

You are looking to start playing metal music on an acoustic guitar. Whether this is possible depends entirely on your expectations (as others have said). To play like the greats you need a lot of practice and good equipment.

You are though in a very good place to start, timing is VERY important in metal music and having experience with the snare gives you a great base.

One thing that might be useful is to tape the hole in the guitar shut. Metal is usually played very fast and with the acoustic chamber opened to many noises will fly around. Taping it prevents this, palm muting helps as well.

1

You are asking a lot of questions in one.

To address one point you can play anything on anything! That is to say there is really no limit to musical expression so playing Battery on an acoustic is your right (in fact the intro is acoustic so that would sound authentic). This brings me to the other side of the coin. If you are interested in playing Metal songs you can certainly play them on an old acoustic or an electric that is not typically associated with Metal but you may not get an authentic replica of the sound you favorite bands are using.

If your goal is obtaining a tone that you think of as Metal then you will want to explore gear options. But to your point about "cheap" guitars you can definitely get a great sound out of a cheap guitar! The guitar needs to be set up properly and it's just the starting point. Eddie Van Hallen's Franken guitars were made from cheap spare parts (probably less than $100 worth total) but they scream like crazy. You need to get the right kind of amp to start and most Metal guitarists use some pedals, distortion, delay, reverb, etc, to get a very hot sound. This is as much a personal touch as anything. To the uninitiated ear all Metal might sound like high pitch hot fuzz but in reality the variety of tone is very broad. Compare Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Dave Murry, Randy Rhodes, Marty Friedman, Yngwie, etc, etc. So the question falls back to you w/r to what type of Metal to you like? Death Metal, Speed or Thrash Metal, what could now be called classic metal? This will guide you in the right direction.

As for gear? You can get a very nice combo practice amp for less than a few hundred buck USD and I think you should start there. You won't need a Marshal Stack (the cliche standard) for a long time if ever. If you invest a few hundred in a Line 6 Spider or similar small amp with one or two speakers these come with pretty good effects built in. In my youth I had a Carvin stack and 20 pedals. I work professionally and the tiny line 6 is good enough for anything. Ironically high quality pedals can overrun the gear cost! Brands like Boss can cost up to $250 a peddle depending on what it does. So like I said, don't go crazy with peddles until you've had a chance to learn some songs and technique and decide you really want something that isn't in your combo amp. In other words upgrade over time, not up front. As you build up the gear you can always buy used. A lot of musicians do. There is some great vintage gear out there that isn't currently being manufactured but you can find on ebay and at musician swap meets. But again, learn what they do and decide if you really need something before paying $$$ for it. And as you get older the romantic self image of hauling 100s of lbs of speakers and high wattage tube amp heads wear off really quick. It helps to keep it under 30lbs, easy on the back.

All styles of music and instruments have their unique challenges when it comes to learning. You asked if one needs dexterity to play. Of course. But no one has dexterity to start. This is why you take lessons and practice. You don't need to be better than someone to start playing Metal. You need to start trying to play Metal and you will develop dexterity. That's the key. There is no such thing as a less complex style of music. Learning Blues or country first will not make Metal easier. You need to jump into the style you like and you will develop the skills you need. That said I would recommend taking lessons. A good teacher will be able to give you exercises that accelerate the learning process. Otherwise it is too easy to get discouraged.