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There comes a time when you have to stop playing metal

In every guitar player's life - ones who play metal specifically - there is a point where playing only metal can sometimes get on your nerves.

Even for people under 24 that may read this, you know there are days when you pick up the guitar, do the same thing you've always done where you mash the distortion pedal and go for it, but... meh, you're just not "feeling the metal" that particular day. This sometimes happens, and it's nothing to get angry over. Doing the metal thing requires being in the mood for it.

I do play metal from time to time. And there was a point when it was the only thing I played. But then I eventually branched out into other styles as seen above, and these days I play more "dirty overdrive" than I do outright heavy metal music.

Is this because I've over 30? Partially. Metal is a game for the young, because that's the time when you have "the attitude" for it, i.e. teen angst. For you older guys that just got ticked off at me by reading that, don't be. When you get older, you start turning the volume down a bit and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And please, do not take turning down the volume as an admission of defeat, because it's not and never has been.

It sometimes is really difficult for a metal guy (or girl for that matter) to branch out into other styles of music, simply because metalheads don't permit it. For whatever reason there's this unwritten rule that if you have decided to be metalhead, you must only listen to metal and absolutely nothing else. Personally, I think that's b.s. and you should be able to listen to whatever you want. If you like a combo of Pantera, Whitesnake, Nine Inch Nails and - oh, my God - Garth Brooks, rock on. Seriously. You listen to whatever you want and be proud of it.

Do you have to stop playing metal forever?

No, of course not.

But I am saying you should stop playing metal all the time, and I'll tell you exactly why: Because it makes you a better musician.

When you branch out into other styles, most of the time you can incorporate the new stuff you learn back into metal.

See, the problem with being only-metal-all-the-time is that you will at some point get into a creative rut. You'll try to think of riffs one day, and they just won't happen. You'll try to compose a solo, and that's not happening either. You've literally exhausted all that you know and need some inspiration...

...and that's when you dive into other music styles to get a much-needed break from the metal.

And I suggest starting with country, because oh yeah, there are some ridiculously good country guitar players:

After that, listen to surf music:

Buy a guitar that "doesn't look metal" at all

The appearance of an axe has a whole lot to do with how you feel when playing and what you feel like playing.

And nothing says "not metal" more than a Stratocaster in Fiesta Red with a maple neck and fingerboard:


(Yes, that is the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster '50s.)

Every metal guitar player should own at least one "totally not metal" guitar. Why? Because it's different and it's a break from the guitars you normally play.

No, I'm not trying to "convert" metal players

Mr. or Ms. Metalhead Guitar Player, you know as well as I do you're going to hit a creative rut sooner or later. Probably sooner.

Avoid the rut by having useful diversions. Listen to other music styles, buy a "non-metal" inexpensive guitar, and do whatever it takes to keep your creativity going.

Keep it fun and interesting; that's all I'm saying.

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