Advice needed: fretting techniques for simple power chord rhythms (chug chug style)

I have a seemingly simple question that is driving me nuts. I’m trying to record a simple 8th note chugga chugga rhytm part with the chords C5 - Ab5 - F5. Nothing revolutionary.

There are two obvious options to fret this (see attached tab). Both are quite prone to unwanted noises when we move from the C to the Ab power chord, and when we move back from F to C.

Option A has the problem that I have to quickly lift the fingers in the transition between m2 and m3, this crates little fret noises even if I’m super careful (and playing super careful is not fun :slight_smile: )

Option B has the problem that we have to slide back from fret 8 to 4 between m6 and m7. This means that it’s almost impossible to sound properly the last “8” of the C chord.

Both options present similar (in fact more severe) issues when we move back from the F chord to C, since the distances involved are even bigger.

Is there some other option I am missing? Should I just accept that the guitar is a noisy instrument? Am I just a lousy rhythm player? Thanks in advance for your input :slight_smile:

EDIT: One slight variation I found is to play Option A using fingers 2 and 4 for the C and 1,3 for the Ab and F. I guess in principle it works but feels mega awkward.

Play m1-2 with fingers 1&3, then do the Dave Mustaine “spider” thing, fretting the Ab5 with 2&4 ?


Thank you! Yeah I’m starting to think that introducing 2+4 may be the only way to get this clean :slight_smile:


You also may take my ‘trumetal’ ® advice… ignore the noise )

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Well, as they say - every joke has a bit of joke )
But seriously, once you lay down drums and bass you often realize that 90% of stuff you were worried about becomes just inadubile. Even some good fancy speed runs… (I keep reminding myself: don’t make your rhythm guitar a solo guitar)
Here’s my take. I didn’t play guitar for a week, no warmup, so you can hear noises and stuff… but truth is - once you mix it up it would be just fine.

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Sounds great I couldn’t really hear any noise upon a first listen! Did you change a bit the transition points between chords though? That may also be a smart way to do it!

I’m assuming you’re using a noise gate?

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Noise gate won’t really help here, the purpose of the gate is to get rid of background noise when you are not playing. Once signal is louder than set threshold you will hear everything.

My advice is as follows:

  1. Lift your fingers more
  2. Use strategically placed notches on your eq
  3. Double or quad track
  4. What little noise gets left behind does not really matter, in fact you can just treat it as added quality to your tracks
  5. Choose whichever version sounds best to you, the same chord played on thicker strings in higher position will be more mellow and will have more “body” and respectively on higher strings it will cut through the mix more.
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Thank you Rot! I’ll try to post some audio clips later to give an idea.

The only suggestion I don’t fully understand is “1”:

If I lift my fingers more won’t I hear some open string noise in between the power chords?

Depends on how you lift.
It’s very minute, but if you flick them by accident then yes, but you may also try to mute them for a split second if you execute it well.
But to be honest I would not care too much about this, you’re only lifting your fingers high enough to stop them from vibrating and to avoid sliding too much, this will only take a split second.
Also this was supposed to be palm muted, right? Let yor right hand help muting open strings.

Edit: here, I did some test for you - I deliberately used two very bright sounding high-gain ampsims and my 8-string, it too has high-output active pickups.
There is still some noise, but that’s mostly because I’m supposed to be working right now and did not warm up properly, and it’s 8 string after all so it’s hard to play accurately at times :wink:
But what noise is left will easily be covered by drums, vocals and whatnot.

Sorry for not exactly on-time playing, I just suck at downpicking to be honest.

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Thank you for trying that! I also hate downpicking, feels like so much work :slight_smile:

I think we are getting similar levels of noise so maybe I’m just expecting too much of me / my instrument.

Here are my “best” attempts - I ended up using both fingers 2-4 and 1-3, and after the initial weirdness that seemed to help a lot.
I am using a 1999 Fender Strat with the bridge (single coil) pickup. Everything is double tracked:

Downpicking 8th notes, no drums

Alternate Picking 16th notes, no drums

Alternate picking 16th notes with Guitar Pro drums (stolen from Megadeth :smiley: )


Souds good to me.

You may try using something like Superior Drummer instead of plain Guitar Pro drums.
Also I’d suggest trying Ab with a third instead of fifth, maybe?

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Excellent idea! That introduces more colour and also reduces fretting hand movement.

More generally I’m starting to realise that even simple rhythm parts can become quite difficult to play clean when you can’t rely on open strings!

Exactly what I meant.

Yeah, kind of. In my playing I usually don’t use open strings too much, so for me I’d say the devil dwells in details such as articulation. Such simple rhythm parts can really benefit from exceptionally tight playing, if you quad track it tight enough it can sound just massive.


Here is the classic Megadeth “Wake Up Dead” spider riff for practice. Record BPM is around 165.

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Cool @Dissonant_Timbres thanks! Do you know what song it is from? I may look for a video of Dave playing this to get an idea.

He definitely knows what he is doing as far as metal rhythm playing goes :slight_smile:

He does it a lot on these chromatic root fifth dyad power chord ideas.
It’s in early Metallica songs he wrote too “Ride the Lightning” most famously

“Wake Up Dead” is above

“Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”

“Five Magics” Same Idea with a pull off lick.

“Rust In Peace… Polaris” 2nd bar is classic Mustaine spider

“Ride the Lightning”

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Oh… I was all sleepy and made wrong rhythm… :pensive:

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Sounds good, don’t stress over it. Can’t wait to hear what you’re up to this time!

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Don’t worry @ASTN, it sounded great and I think the fretting challenge was the same as my riff, so it was still a good demonstration :slight_smile:

Thanks @Dissonant_Timbres for the excellent resources and @BillHoudini for the encouragement!

I am definitely into that “spider” technique now - once getting used to the 2-4 thing it allows for much more sustain and smoother transitions between power chords.