Metal Guitar


Authored by Shaun Michaud


Course Code: OGUIT-227

Next Semester Starts
June 26, 2023

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Master both improvised and composed solos and rhythm parts in the Metal/Progressive Rock style through shapes, scales, and theory on the guitar fretboard. Explore an intensive breakdown of scales, shapes, arpeggios, and analysis of use in Metal/Progressive Rock style. Upon completion, you will not only have expanded your writing and improvisational skills, but you will also have tools to to grow your individual playing style.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify every note on the fretboard
  • Identify major scales/modes, melodic minor scales/modes, harmonic minor scales/modes, and harmonic major scales/modes
  • Play with the understanding of the connection of harmony and chord scales
  • Compose and improvise both rhythm and lead in tonalities used in the Metal/Prog idioms
  • Explain the connection of all triad and 7th arpeggios to the modes
  • Develop a never-ending pool of new material for years to come
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Major Scales/Modes

  • Hexatonic Octave Scales
  • The Never-Ending Scale in C Major
  • Real-World Example: Dream Theater
  • Assignment 1: Record a Solo of Your Own

Lesson 2: Five-Note Grouping (Pentatonic Scales)

  • Pentatonic Scales
  • Breaking up the Major Scale
  • The Chords
  • The Never-Ending Scale in G Major
  • Real-World Examples: Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson, and Zakk Wylde
  • Assignment 2: Record a Solo with the Modal Pentatonic Scales

Lesson 3: Connecting the Major Scales to Other Modes

  • How Any Major Scale Is Also Six Other Modes
  • The Dorian Mode
  • The Phrygian Mode
  • The Never-Ending Scale in D Major
  • Real-World Examples: Kiko Loureiro, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Ozzy/Randy Rhoads
  • Assignment 3: Record a Solo in Dorian or Phrygian Mode

Lesson 4: The Mixolydian and Lydian Modes

  • The Lydian Mode
  • The Mixolydian Mode
  • The Never-Ending Scale in A Major
  • Real-World Examples: Joe Satriani, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, and Steve Vai
  • Assignment 4: Record a Solo in Mixolydian or Lydian Mode

Lesson 5: Time

  • Meter and Metric Modulation in Riffs
  • Timing in Solos
  • The Never-Ending Scale in E Major
  • Real-World Examples: Dream Theater, Meshuggah, Fredrik Thordendal, and Polyphia
  • Assignment 5: Record a Solo Manipulating Metric and Timing

Lesson 6: Seventh Chord Arpeggios

  • 7th Chord Arpeggios: Third Inversion
  • 7th Chord Arpeggios: Second Inversion
  • 7th Chord Arpeggios: First Inversion
  • Real-World Examples: Guthrie Govan and Marty Friedman
  • Assignment 6: Midterm Solo

Lesson 7: Modal Pentatonic Revisited

  • Build off an Old Standard
  • Dissecting the Old Standard
  • The G and B Strings
  • The Never-Ending Scale in F Major
  • Real-World Examples: Dream Theater, Zakk Wylde, and Metallica
  • Assignment 7: Record a Solo with Two Notes per String Patterns

Lesson 8: Triad Arpeggios

  • Two-String Triad Arpeggios
  • Three-String Triad Shapes
  • Triad Sweep Arpeggios
  • Triad String Skipping Arpeggios
  • The Never-Ending Scale in Bb Major
  • Real-World Examples: Extreme, Dream Theater, and Jason Becker
  • Assignment 8: Record a Solo Using Triads

Lesson 9: The Harmonic Minor Scale

  • Six-Note Shapes of Harmonic Minor
  • Chords of the Harmonic Minor
  • The Modes of Harmonic Minor
  • The Never-Ending Scale in C Harmonic Minor
  • Harmonic Minor Pentatonic Modes
  • Real-World Examples: Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Romeo, Metallica, and Judas Priest
  • Assignment 9: Record a Solo with the Harmonic Minor Scale

Lesson 10: String Skipping Seventh Arpeggio Patterns

  • 7th String Skipping Arpeggios: Root
  • 7th String Skipping Arpeggios: Third Inversion
  • 7th String Skipping Arpeggios: Second Inversion
  • 7th String Skipping Arpeggios: First Inversion
  • Real-World Examples: Jeff Loomis, Dimebag Darrell, and Iron Maiden
  • Assignment 10: Record a Solo Using String Skipping 7th Arpeggio Patterns

Lesson 11: Octave Displacement

  • 7ths, the Other Second
  • Open Triads Arpeggios
  • Apply it to Harmonic Minor
  • Real-World Examples: Jason Richardson, Dream Theater, and Judas Priest
  • Assignment 11: Record a Solo Using Octave Displacement

Lesson 12: Other Scales

  • Melodic Minor and Modes
  • Harmonic Major and Modes
  • Real-World Examples: Dream Theater, and Polyphia
  • Assignment 12: Record a Solo Utilizing Several Techniques


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Guitar Chords 101 and Guitar Scales 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Students are required to record video for assignments. You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or webcam to do this. If you do not already have a preferred video software, you can use the built-in recorder tool within your assignment post. You can play the backing track through your speakers as you record and the microphone will pick up both the guitar (acoustic or through an amp) and the track as you play along.

Software Requirements

  • Amp simulator software (recommended), such as Guitar RigBias, etc.

Hardware Requirements

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

*An exclusive Reverb deal is available to all Berklee Online students through our Student Deals page. 

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Shaun Michaud


Shaun Michaud is a Berklee grad who has been teaching at the school for more than 16 years. The music he has written has appeared on TV on The History Channel, and in films such as Movie 43, and November Criminals. He has written, recorded, and produced five albums, two of which were released on the Inside Out label. Working as a recording engineer for more than a decade, he has hundreds of recording and mastering credits in the classical music genre for Parma Recordings.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Metal Guitar can be applied towards these associated programs:


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