Hangar 18 is the iconic trash metal gem. It’s one of the biggest hits released by Megadeth. If you’re a trash guitar lover and guitar player, you certainly want to learn Hangar 18 on your guitar.
Is Hangar 18 hard to play?
Hangar 18 is hard to play. It takes at least intermediate to advanced level of guitar skill to play it properly. Solos from Hangar 18 are also not that easy. In short, it is hard, but not impossible to learn, of course. Guitar beginners should avoid learning this song.
In this article we’re going to analyze what guitar techniques are used in this song. That way you’ll see what you need to learn prior to attempting to learn Hangar 18.
Guitar Techniques Used In Hangar 18
There are a lot of different guitar techniques that are used in Hangar18. We’ll analyze what those are. Those techniques are also something you have to know before attempting to learn Hangar 18.
Alternate picking is a common way of picking in all music genres. Hangar 18 is not the exception. In order to start learning Hangar 18, you have to have some experience in alternate picking. Actually, without alternate picking skill, there really isn’t much you can do on your guitar.
Make sure you practice alternate picking every day for at least 10 minutes.
After opening riff, there comes a similar one. I mean, it’s the same notes, only this time it’s picked note after note.
It starts at 0:24 if you listen to it on YouTube. What’s peculiar for this riff is that it uses an economy picking in one part.
What’s economy picking? It’s when you pick in a way that you sometimes pick downward and sometimes upward. It depends on the direction you’re moving. If you’re moving down, from lower to higher strings, you’ll pick downard. And vice versa.
It’s called economic picking because it utilizes momentum by taking the direction of your hand movement in consideration of whether you’ll pluck a string downward or upward. It is supposed to minimize your hand movement by choosing the right direction of picking. That’s why it’s called economic (meaning practical).
Economic picking is not as easy to learn as alternate picking is. Although the economy picking in the beginning riff is not that fast, still you have to play with it for some time.
After some practice, you’ll be able to pick in that style.
The riff at the beginning also uses sliding technique. Sliding technique is not that hard to master. However, this riff is hard to perform in a perfect, non-sloppy way.
Hangar 18 has a lot of slides in itself. Sliding is present not only in the beginning riff. You can hear it it the verse and in the bridge of the song also.
Make sure you play around with sliding technique some time.
Guitar legato is a technique that consists of hammer on’s and pull off’s. This requires strong fingers. You need to hammer on a fret in order to produce ringing. The same goes for pull off.
Both ways require certain amount of strength in your fingers. Guitar beginners often struggle with hammer on’s and pull off’s, precisely because beginners don’t have fingers that are strong enough.
That’s why this song is not suitable for guitar beginners.
Downpicking is a technique very often used in metal, or trash metal music. Megadeth songs have a lot of downpicking in their rhythm guitar section. Hangar 18 also uses downpicking. Although, to be honest, there are far more harder downpicking rhythms in other Megadeth songs, such as Tornado of Souls.
Anyway, downpicking is physically demanding technique. It is incredibly easy to get tired when doing downpicking. That’s why it is crucial to develop strong wrist of your playing hand.
In Hangar 18, downpicking is present in the verse, when Dave Mustaine is singing the lyrics.
Hangar 18 has a tempo of 160, and for a trash metal standards, that’s not so fast. It’s achievable to play downpicking at that tempo with a little practice.
Read more about how to develop downpicking quickly and painlessly.
One of the riffs from Hangar 18 uses a lot of vibrato. Vibrato is a technique every intermediate guitar player has to master. Without vibrato, you just can’t play Hangar 18 properly. There’s so much vibrato in Hangar 18, that it quickly becomes noticeable if you don’t play it well.
Make sure you pay attention to your vibrato.
Analysis Of Guitar Solos
There are 11 guitar solos in Hangar 18. That huge number of solos is one of the reasons why this song is so iconic and popular. But those guitar solos are not easy to perform.
Above, you could read about guitar techniques used in this song, like vibrato, legato, sliding etc. Those techniques are also present in guitar solos of Hangar 18.
Here are some techniques that are exclusively present in guitar solos of Hangar 18. These techniques you have to know before attempting to learn any solo of Hangar 18.
It’s nearly impossible to play a rock or metal solo without string bending. This song is not an exception. String bending is not a trivial guitar technique. Even when you learn how to do it, it still takes time to bring your bending to a more sophisticated level.
Hangar 18 solos have some sophisticated string bendings that require a lot of exercises. Also, string bending requires your fingers to be strong. That’s why this song is not for a guitar beginner. As it’s already been said, guitar beginners have weak fingers.
Here’s how you can make your guitar strings easier to bend.
Sweep picking is one of the hardest soloing technique. There are a lot of great guitar players that do not know sweep picking.
Nevertheless, in order to play Hangar 18 solos, you have to practice sweep picking a lot.
That’s what makes these solos hard to play. Sweep picking takes time to master. Don’t expect yourself to play sweep picking with ease in just a few days. It takes even weeks to do those sweeps properly.
Tips For Learning It Properly
Let’s say you’re familiar with all those techniques we described above. Here are a few tips. If you comply to them, you’ll be able to learn Hangar 18 in a shorter period of time.
Finger dexterity is one of the most important skill for a guitar playing. Without it, you play sloppy and not confident enough.
Finger dexterity gives your playing a confidence and precision. Hangar 18 is a type of song that doesn’t forgive sloppiness in playing.
That’s why it is extremely important for you to practice dexterity every day for some time (10 minutes at least). The best exercise for dexterity development is spider exercise. Do that exercise every day, and you’ll notice dramatic improvement in your guitar playing after a few weeks.
Pay attention to palm muting. In metal music, palm muting is crucial. Without palm muting, strings ring out too much. Too much ringing makes your playing not tight enough.
Rhythm guitar, in trash metal, must sound tight. Palm muting is what you have to do to achieve that effect. Make sure you practice it regularly.
Take a Rest
Taking a rest is extremely important. You can’t expect yourself to learn Hangar 18 in just one session of playing. There’s just too much of it.
Taking a rest is often an overlooked advice. Still, it’s one of the best advice you can get. Pay attention to your body. If you feel tired, stop playing. Let your hands rest.
That way you’ll allow muscle memory to develop faster. Taking a rest is an integral part in learning process.
Use a Metronome
Metronome is such a valuable tool when it comes to exercising. This song has a tempo of 160 bpm (beats per minute). You can’t expect yourself to catch on to that tempo on your first time of playing Hangar 18.
That’s why you need to use metronome. Slow it down to the tempo you’re comfortable with. Let’s say you feel comfortable playing a part of Hangar 18 at 120 bpm. That’s perfectly fine.
Play it on that tempo. Once you feel comfortable enough, speed it up to, let’s say, 130, or so. Patience is the key. Soon, you’ll catch up to the original tempo.
I hope this article gave you some valuable information about Hangar 18 complexity. If you enjoyed reading it, I’m more than happy about it. It’s always a pleasure helping fellow guitar brothers on their journey. Take a look at the analysis of Tornado of Souls.
If you’re interested, you can read more interesting articles from this site.
Cheers, and rock on!