7 String Guitar Lesson – Quick Metal Riff

Grab your 7 string and get stuck into this metal riff!

7 String Guitar Lesson – Quick Metal Riff

What I love about playing 7 string guitar, particularly being a metal player, is that I can stay in standard tuning, keeping all of my 6 string ideas available for lead guitar, and still access low tuned heavier sounding notes on the 7th string. This can be further exploited by tuning the low 7th string to an A note (standard is B), going even lower and having the same convenient open power chord that we have in a drop D style tuning without having to sacrifice a string for lead guitar. This particular riff came about as a backing riff for one of my jam tracks. I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and make a tutorial out of it.

Standard Tuning – 7B 6E 5A 4D 3G 2B 1E

Dropped A Tuning – 7A 6E 5A 4D 3G 2B 1E


The key in use here is B Natural Minor/Aeolian (I am yet to cover the Aeolian mode in my ‘Modes Explained‘ series of posts but stay tuned as I will finish that series when I get time!) and the tempo is a brisk 180 BPM.

The notes in B Natural Minor/Aeolian are – B, C#, D, E, F#, G & A

Which give us the intervals – Root Note, Major 2nd, Minor 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Minor 6th & Minor 7th

That makes this a dark, sad sounding mode – ideal for metal riffing.


As you can see from the video, each pick strike is a down pick. This is common in many styles of metal riffing as it gives each pick strike a uniform sound. The riff would be easier to play with alternate picking (the pick would only need to move at half the speed) but would not have the right ‘conveyor belt’ sound. The picking hand remains in roughly the same position throughout the riff only moving up and away from the strings when an accented, non-palm muted note is needed. This move away is straight up with no lateral movement as that movement would have to be compensated for on return and there isn’t enough time for that. The left hand has a tricky ascending, pentatonic, string skipping lick (in 16th note rhythm) to close out the first repetition of the riff and the right hand must carefully martial the idle strings so that no extraneous string noise can interrupt the riff while it picks the first notes of each new string in the lick. I have transcribed both of the rhythm guitar performances (the riff is double tracked and harmonized) below. Have a go at recording the riff yourself and feel free to share your performances.


Download (PDF, 46KB)

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