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Instructional Video Review: Doug Marks’ Metal Method: The Complete Basic Course

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Have you ever wanted to learn how to play guitar? It doesn’t matter; electric or acoustic, it takes time, money, and a lot of dedication. Doug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic Course is a set of training videos whose goal it is to take you from absolute beginner to an accomplished player in a reasonably short time. Learning how to play guitar with Doug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic Course will still take time, money and dedication, but with it, you become much more in control of all three.

Doug Marks, while being an accomplished guitar player, is also a gifted instructor. Metal Method came about in 1982 in an effort to help his guitar students with their instruction. Back then it started off as an audio cassette training program using music which today would be considered classic rock as opposed to heavy metal.

Throughout the years, the instruction course has evolved from audio cassette to video tape to DVDoug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic CourseD. The training content has evolved as well, keeping up with the times by adding techniques, and refining the lessons. This course contains six stages (DVDs) and is geared to provide lessons for everyone from the absolute beginner to those who need a refresher course to get back up to speed. It's even useful to those who play well but want to enhance their skills with more formal training.

While the version of Doug Marks' Metal Method I am working with is the complete basic course, the videos can also be purchased individually and in smaller sets. This will allow you to skip portions if you are more accomplished, or purchase them one at a time if you are on a tight budget.

Each stage contains four lessons that, if completed as instructed, should each take a week. One DVD should take a month to complete and the entire course should take about six months. The minimum time recommended for practice is 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week. You will spend considerably more time if you want to become very good. Each video starts with an introduction and a tuning session so that you can tune the guitar to the instructor. There are also additional materials to be printed off from the DVD.

Stage 1
In stage 1, the introduction explains the Metal Method course, who it is for, and what the student can expect. Special emphasis is placed on the idea that playing should be fun and not forced, eDoug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic Coursespecially if one is going to be successful.

The lessons start off with a look at the guitar. Here you will see that although you can use an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar is preferred. You will learn the parts of the instrument, how to tune it, and other fundamentals needed to get started. Next, you learn about chords – both open and barre chords, becoming familiar with chord diagrams, and beginning some basic finger work.

The first part of this training focuses more on the open chords and exercises to begin strengthening your fingerings and the use of your fingers, especially your pinkie. Then you will move on to some work with barre chords. Beginning with a thorough explanation of how to position your fingers, you will move quickly to learn 24 barre chords.

Stage 2
This stage assumes that you have completed stage 1 or that you are able to play some chords but are still stumbling with your fingering. Your transitions are not necessarily smooth but you are working on them.

This section begins with exercises to develop muscle memory to help with this transition. Now working with a rhythm track, you will begin to get a feel for playing with other instruments.

Next, you will work on additional fingering exercises. You will learn that by drop tuning the E string to down to D, you will gain a more metal sound. Then you will look at fifth-type intervals, you will see why, even though they are sometimes called power chords, they are not chords at all but you can use them to make some pretty impressive sounds. You will also learn the pentatonic scale in A-minor.

Then you will learn how to use the pentatonic scale to play some lead guitar. Here you will be introduced to playing some basic leads by using the key of the main chord and the notes of the scale to make it all fit. Next, you will explore sounds effects you can create using effects pedals along with additional exercises for building your skills. Finally, you will finish up by learning how to use 6-string barre chords.

Stage 3
This stage transitions you from beginner to intermediate player, and the pace begins to pick up. This means working more on lead guitar techniques. Earlier you learned the pentatonic scalDoug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic Coursee in A-minor, now you will explore using this scale anywhere on the fret board.

Along with learning some additional chords, you will also begin to learn guitar licks – small melodic phrases – that you will use to build leads. You will learn about fingering techniques like hammer-on, pull-off, and string bending. Then you will see how to put together these techniques to form a complete lead.

Stage 4
Being a firmly entrenched intermediate player, you will now move to enhance your skills. Where in stage 3 you worked with the minor pentatonic scales, here you will work with the major pentatonic scales. You will also begin working with the natural minor scale, which is also very useful for your skills in hard rock and metal playing.

You will also learn additional fingering techniques like vibrato, vibrato bend, slide, tapping, harmonics, chime harmonics, pick harmonics, and string muting. You will also learn four additional five-string barre chords. Through each of the four lessons in this stage you will learn four measures of a lead that will apply all of the techniques explained in this stage. At the end you should be able to put the four parts together to form a complete lead solo.

Stage 5
In this stage you will learn about blues progressions and how they can be used to enhance your playing. These come in the form of three new chords and more lead parts. The new focus is more on improvising chords and licks to make the sound much more your own than if you simply copied the standard tabs.

New techniques include pick rake, bend release, hammer-bend, trills, volume swell, chromatic run, and tremolo picking. There is a also a seven part section called "How I Practice." Here you will see seven different motifs' – melodies – that are used for improvising. This should give you the ability to expand your creative approach. Finally you will learn about basic guitar harmony theory, in particular E Phrygian minor.

Stage 6

This stage gets into topics that even most professional guitar players don't fully understand – that of more formal music theory. If you want to become better than most others at playing guitar then this is what will help put you over the top.

In this stage you will learn how to apply music theory to rock and metal guitar. The topics examined here can be understood by beginners and experts alike but because when you are learning how to play guitar, most would prefer to play as opposed to learn theory and so it is held out to this point.

This stage will give you a whole new understanding of your favorite music. It will give you an enhanced library of melodic possibilities that you can pull from, all without having to learn any new progressions or patterns. Doug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic CourseFor the experienced guitarist, this will put much of what you already know into greater perspective. This stage is about concepts and not techniques.

Obviously, the fact that Doug Marks' Metal Method has been around since 1982 means that the course works. It works because the instructor, Doug Marks is able to convey the material in logical orderly progression that is easy to follow. What also works is his honest, straight forward nature in teaching. When you are watching the video you get to see not only the fingering on the fret board, but the pick action as well.

The animated tabs – the ability to watch the tablature as the notes are being played – make it easy to follow along with as you are getting started. Add to that, you have the ability to back up and replay the lessons as many times as are needed for mastery.

I also think that the price is right as well. For $69.70 you get the entire course. If you want to purchase the stages one at a time, they are only $14.95 each which is four lessons for less than what you would have to pay for 1 at a studio. The DVDs can be played on a standard DVD player as well as on a computer, but to access the additional files you will need a computer.

Do I think that you can acquire mastery from this course? Yes. In six months? Now that will depends on how much time you pDoug Marks' Metal Method: The Complete Basic Courseut into it – at 20 minutes a day, probably not. The more appropriate question would be can you acquire mastery from the materials in this course? I feel that you can if you take the time to learn the lessons and put in the practice time, there is no limit on what you can accomplish with this course.

If you have questions there is also a user's forum that seems to be fairly active as well as a 60 day no questions money back guarantee. I have included an intro video for stage five to get a feel for what you can learn. If you want to learn to play guitar or it has been years since you played and want a refresher course, then I highly recommend Doug Marks' Metal Method.

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About T. Michael Testi

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