Classic Metal Riffing – Black Sabbath Style

Tony Iommi is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of metal riffing. In this lesson, we take a look at a riff in the style of Supernaut using the C# Pentatonic scale, playing outside its box position.

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Practice Tips

  • As well as using hammer-ons or pull-offs for slurs, you can also use sliding to accomplish the same goal, producing a uniquely different sound.
  • One of the most commonly used ideas in popular rock and metal riffs is to lead into the root note with the minor 7th, in this case, B into C#. Try using different keys, positions and rhythms to come up with your own ideas using this formula.
  • 1/4 step bends, also known as curls, are a really simple way of introducing some bluesy flavour and spice into riffs and licks. They work particularly well with the Pentatonic and Blues scales.
  • The key to good vibrato technique is to have proper hand and finger position. Check out where my thumb sits as well as the first finger’s ‘posture’ in the video; it will really help you get to grips with the technique.