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Lead Guitar: how to sound like

Iron Maiden

When it comes to Heavy Metal bands few are as legendary as the mighty Iron Maiden. With a 40 year legacy and over 16 studio albums Iron Maiden have inspired countless legions of guitarists to take up arms and fight for the heavy metal cause. Iron Maiden have a very distinct lead sound which has been shaped by guitarist Adrian Smith and Dave Murray with many recurring themes and techniques making up the formula for their signature style. In this article we will be taking a look at several techniques you can employ right away to sound like Iron Maiden and the best thing is it’s so easy that even a total beginner can do it.



Horizontal E Minor Scale

Rather than play the scale vertically up and down a string Iron Maiden often use the horizontal layout of a guitar to great effect. Below are the notes of the E Minor Scale ( E F# G A B C D E) Played Horizontally across the e string. Memorise this pattern and the location of all the frets because you will be using it frequently in Iron Maiden Style leads and improvisation.

Ex 1) The E Minor Scale






Open String Pedal Tone

A really cool idea is to use the open E note of the E string as a pedal tone as you play other notes up and down the string. Play a note and then the open string, then another note followed by the open string, experiment with this until you can co-ordinate lifting your finger up and picking at the same time. This idea sounds particularly cool when you use triplets by playing the fretted note on the first of three notes followed by two open strings. Iron Maiden use this technique in Losfer Words You can even take it further and apply 16th note rhythms to the same scale.

Ex 2) Open String Pedal Tone With Triplets






Ex 3) Open String Pedal Tone With 16th Notes











3rds & Skipping Notes

Continuing on with the pedal tone idea you can get some great sounds by skipping notes and doing some bigger jumps. A common pattern is to ascend or descend the scale in 3rds ( E G F# A G B A C B D C E) which gives a distinctly Maiden feel to your lead phrase. If you try 16th notes and bigger jumps you’ll probably end up with a Wasted Years inspired melody line. Mix up the rhythm and try as many combinations of intervallic jumps as you can.

Ex 4) Using 3rds











So there are three really easy lead guitar techniques that you can use right away to sound like Iron Maiden. I must stress that none of the concepts here are overly difficult and can be used by beginner guitar players right away. The key is to take the time to learn and understand how the concepts are being used, if you can get your head around that then your fingers will catch up really easily. Finally, make sure that you are trying to create your own music using these ideas as that will give you the most benefit of all.

About The Author

Michael is a heavy metal & shred fusion guitarist based in Melbourne, Australia. He cut his teeth learning the songs of heavy metal legends including Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Metallica.If you want to take your playing to the next level taking heavy metal guitar lessons in Essendon will see you making instant improvement. All students get a personalised lesson program based around their own individual goals