Learn how to stop sounding mechanical and start sounding like some of your favorite Metal artists with instruction from Shaun Michaud. In this series of video tutorials, Michaud, course author of the Metal Guitar course at Berklee Online, demonstrates several Metal/Progressive Rock techniques that will make your playing faster and more efficient, plus give you a quick how-to for learning quintessential Metal tools like sweep picking and songs like John Petrucci’s solo in “Erotomania.”

1. Hexatonic Patterns

In this first video, Michaud demonstrates a technique he developed after years of dissecting solos from his favorite metal guitar players that breaks down a method of approaching the major scale from the entire fretboard. This method strays away from the traditional approach of the major scale from a smaller window on the guitar that is shown in most beginner books. He starts by pairing the strings into two-string groupings. Each group has the same interval between the strings, thus creating the same shape for each set. Starting from each of the seven notes in the major scale, Michaud plays through the scale patterns up the fretboard, through each string set. He then shows how to use this technique to create musical solos.

2. The Neverending Scale

Now onward to an Achilles’ heel of guitar players, which is note recognition on the fretboard. Michaud shares an exercise he created that builds note recognition to help with freedom in playing. He starts by looking at the first 12 frets of the guitar and finds only one place to play each note of the scale on each string of the guitar. Using the C Major scale, he finds C on the 6th string, finds D on the 5th string, E on the 4th string, F on the 3rd string, G on the 2nd string, and A on the 1st string. Once he gets to the top string, he reverses direction and continues the scale from where he left off by playing B on the 2nd string etc. This creates what he calls the “neverending” scale.

"Combine learning shapes and learning notes on the fretboard, and you will always know where you are." —Shaun Michaud, Author of the Metal Guitar course at @BerkleeOnline Click To Tweet

3. Hexatonic Shapes in “Erotomania” Solo

In this next video, Michaud shows you how to play John Petrucci’s solo in “Erotomania” by Dream Theater. Using hexatonic shapes, he breaks down the solo phrase by phrase, showing you exactly what is going on in Petrucci’s playing. It serves as a perfect real-world example of using lanes and shapes of major scale patterns in a metal guitar style solo.

4. Pentatonic Octaves

Now let’s learn Michaud’s approach to pentatonic scales. His method will allow you to learn new ways to divide the notes on the fretboard and create new shapes so that you can play fresh melodic content. Michaud builds upon the lane idea with some familiar sounds of the pentatonic scale.

5. Relative Pentatonic Shapes

Michaud moves on to a second way to access the same five notes using the same seven shapes using relative pentatonic shapes, which will allow you to play these notes in a different spot on the guitar neck. This is accomplished by pairing shape one with five, two with six, and so on.

6. Sweep Picking Technique

Next we look at sweep arpeggios and the picking technique behind playing a smooth sweep. He breaks down how to accomplish a fluid sweep by playing each string while simultaneously working your way up and down an arpeggio, which involves lifting each finger allowing separation between each note. Michaud starts with arpeggios on the 5th string using the G major triad.

7. Octave Displacement

In this last video, Michaud uses Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor to demonstrate the concept of octave displacement. He explains how octave displacements can create unique-sounding lines. Using this technique, you can play a continuous scale without the listener noticing because of where the scale jumps an octave higher.

About 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 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.


 Published October 15, 2020