How to make Metal riffs out of Chords

by Empirism (Feb 08, 2009)

Alright, I decided to try help with this requested lesson by Veqq, hope he still reading the forums. There was also how to make fast metal riffs using chord progression, in this lesson we look things without speed but that can be played fast if wanted to.

I assume that you already know basic chords and barre chords and if not, use this site guitar chords and chord name tools if needed. Also please check the chord progressions tool, that is absolutely important if you are not familiar with chord progressions. I may even say that in musical learning, chord progression tool is maybe the best.

We use basic iii, V, vi, I major thriad chord progression on key C. This is not essential, you can use different, but there is same idea on every chord progression that hope you figure out soon.

Since this lesson is for metal and metal riffs, we use my favorite, POWER CHORDS!...yea yea, say what you want but they are cool xD. As you can see on chord progression tool, there are major chords and minor chords and diminished chords, but we dont care a damn of them on this lesson...(psst, those are very important that you should learn, but there are better lessons on that) So take only root notes of them and we see that they are iii = E. V = G and vi = A.

Lets take a look, how those appear to be in as power chords.


now this is like an verse of our rhytm guitar from that long haired heavy metal freak on the back. and its E5, E5, E5, G5, G5, G5, G5, A5, A5, A5, A5 and C5, C5, C5, C5 So lets get to the business and start to think our beginner riff for it? Oh yeah.

Thing is, that you can use all those notes that you see on tab above on current chord to riffs. Also we have other choice, you can use scales to make more complex riffs. But lets check first what we get when use those notes above.


Use alternate picking if you want to play fast, its the only way, start slow improve accuracy and speed over time. Playing fast riffs, require very systematic and patient training.

I think you can find out that those notes should be played along the rhythm? Hehe just kidding, but keep that in mind and use your improvisation and you will make many different sounding riffs even from above one.

Alright, lets take something more and we take pentatonic scale to help our mission to make uber cool riff. Now you can use little trick, and check using guitar chord tool and check how each chord from chord progression tool show up. And now we talk about minor and major things here.

We use trick that we do same as above, but add a little. Look first tab and check those power chords there. When we add one more note to those power chords as you can see on chord name tool, they change to minor, major, sus, dim, aug depends what note we add. For example E5 we add open G string it turns E minor.

Allright, now we use those notes to conform the chord progression we see on chord progression tool. It says,

C Dm Em F G Am Bdim

as we used chord progression iii, V, vi, I its Em, G, Am, C we add the first G note to our E5 riff part. I used 1th string 3rd fret instead of open G. Next our chord progression turn to G5 and we start to get on flying. Again experiment with chord name tool and make there G major adding one note to G5 shown on first tab. Go ahead and let that B note vibrato a bit :D.

Next part we are goin to A5 part of the riff. Experiment with chord name tool again ^_^. Oh well, we added even one note for it make it scream eh? :D.

And now we are in our last part of our riff and lets do something to get athmosphere up in the crowd and lets take just that note to make it C major and let it scream with vibrato to give us some kicks. But lets take that note little higher octave.


Well, hope you got the point and this help you. Again, others may add some to make things more clear. I get myself some drinks...

Thanks for reading.