Analysis: How Hard Is It To Play Tornado of Souls on a Guitar?

Tornado of souls is one of the biggest hits released by Megadeth. It is a classic masterpiece of trash metal. Every trash metal lover has Tornado of souls in his playlist. And every trash guitar player wants to learn it on a guitar.

But is Tornado of Souls hard too play?

Tornado of Souls is, indeed, very hard to play. It is fast, it requires strong and precise hand movements. If you want to learn to play it on a guitar, you have to have at least intermediate to advanced guitar skills. Especially if we talk about Marty Friedman’s guitar solo. That requires advanced skills, like arpeggios and fast string runs.

In this article, we’re going to thoroughly analyze every guitar technique that’s used in the song. We will anaylize the song, part by part. Also, you’ll read about how to learn this song in a most quicker and painless way possible.

Let’s go!

Techniques Used In Tornado of Souls

Let’s lay out guitar techniques that are used for Tornado of souls.

1. Downpicking

Downpicking is a heavy/trash metal technique. Megadeth is among the bands that use a lot of downpicking in their playing.

Downpicking is a hard technique to master. It requires strong playing hand, precise movement and stamina. It is incredibly easy to get tired with downpicking. That’s why you have to have strong wrist to play it.

The tempo of the song is 196 bpm (beats per minute). That translates to around 6,5 downstrokes per second. That’s fairly demanding, in terms of physicality.

That’s why it is crucial to develop strong and tight downpicking technique. Best way to develop downpicking is to use metronome, while taking rests when you get tired.

Read more about it here.

2. Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is the opposite of downpicking. Basically, you pick down and up. Nevertheless, even alternate picking technique can get hard to perform when the tempo is fast.

And Tornado of Souls has a fast tempo (194 bpm). The first riff of the song uses alternate picking technique (along with downpicking).

The main riff that comes after can be played with alternate picking. Some play it with downpicking. It’s up to you. I personally like to play the main riff with downpicking. I think the sound is more tight that way.

Still, a lot of guitar players play it with alternate picking, including Megadeth (nowadays).

But alternate picking technique is used in a solo, also. We’ll get to the solo part later in the article. The point I’m trying to make is this: you have to have alternate picking technique mastered in order to play this song.

3. Legato

Legato consists of pull off’s and hammer on’s. The technique is used in the opening riff. Also it is used in the guitar solo, a lot.

For a guitar beginner, it is often hard to perform proper hammer on’s and pull off’s. That’s because these things demand strong fingers. And some level of finger dexterity.

Guitar beginners often struggle with weak fingers. You know the feeling of soreness and tiredness in your fingers? If that happens to you, that means your fingers have to gain strength.

And Tornado of Souls really demands strong fingers. This is the best exercise (and perhaps the only one that matters) for developing strong fingers. It’s called finger gym exercise. Doing that will develop your hammer on’s and pull off’s dramatically.

But you have to be careful not to overexercise. 5-10 minutes a day is enough. Take a look.

4. Palm Muting

Palm muting is also used in Tornado of Souls. The main riff (verse) is played with the palms slightly muting strings. It is crucial to mute strings in a way so they don’t ring out too much. But also you shouldn’t mute them too much. The key is to find a right amount of palm muting.

Palm muting is interrelated to downpicking. That’s because most downpicking rhythms include palm muting. That’s the bedrock of trash metal rhythm guitar playing.

Make sure you exercise palm muting. After a while, it will come to you naturally.

Having a Strong, Pushy and Chuggy Sound is The KEY

Let’s suppose you know all of the techniques mentioned above. Still, you have to set up your amp and gear in a proper way to get the EXACT sound of the song.

Essentially, it’s the Marshall amp that does the trick. Marshall’s had been widely used among trash metal bands like Megadeth. However, if you don’t have one, an Angry Driver pedal by Boss can do the trick. Check it out on Amazon.

Your goal is to recreate that strong, chuggy sound with strong gain and without any mud in the mix. Angry Driver does the trick pretty good, IMO.

Also, to play Tornado of Souls flawlessly, having a good pick is important. There are a tons of different guitar picks out there. My choice is this one. 1mm thickness is perfect for me, but you can choose different thickness if you wish.

Sand grip picks are among my favorites for playing trash metal, as they provide much better control than picks that don’t have grips. Check it out on Amazon for more details.

Guitar Solo by Marty Friedman

A lot of people are asking: Is Tornado of Souls solo the best solo ever?

Well, it’s a subjective thing. It certainly is one of the best solos, if not the best one, in metal music. But no one can objectively decide what’s the best solo ever. This one certainly falls in the category of ‘best solos ever’.

And it’s not hard to see why. The solo is really interesting to listen. It combines various guitar techniques while it retains its logical movement and has its distinctive melody.

Let’s analyze what guitar techniques are used in Tornado of Souls solo.


Vibrato is widely used in this solo, especially at the beginning of it. You can hear that vibratos in this particular solo are very nuanced. It takes more than just knowing how to vibrate a string on a guitar.

Basically, without knowing vibrato don’t even attempt to learn this solo. Vibrato is crucial, in general sense, for solo guitar. It gives you a feeling. Without it, guitar sounds boring and lifeless.

Make sure you practice vibrato a lot.

String Bending

String bending is another crucial technique. Again, string bends that are present in this particular solo are also very nuanced. Marty Friedman is just an awesome guitar player!

String bending requires a certain strength in your fingers. Make sure you practice string bending a lot. Take a look at how you can bend strings easier.


Arpeggios are one of the most demanding guitar techniques. Not all guitar players use it in their soloing. Marty Friedman use it. Especially in Tornado of Souls solo.

You can’t nail this solo if you haven’t master arpeggios technique beforehand.

Economy Picking

Along with downpicking and alternate picking, this song also uses an economy picking. Particularly, there’s an economy picking technique present in solo of the song.

What is economy picking? It’s when you sometimes pick upward and sometimes downward. It depends on the direction you’re moving across the strings.

If you’re moving down, you’ll pick downward. If you’re moving up, you’ll pick upward. It is complex, and it needs to be practiced a lot before you can nail it properly.

Make sure you practice it before learning the solo.

How To Learn It (Tips)

1. Use a Metronome

As it’s been said at the beginning, this song has a very fast tempo (194 bpm). Unless you’re a guitar master, you can’t play it at first on that tempo.

You have to slow down the tempo to the speed you’re comfortable with. For example, you can slow it down to 140 bpm and start to play rhythm. Or solo.

Just be patient. It takes a while for you to get comfortable playing it on the tempo. Just play it slow enough until you feel enough comfort. Then speed up the metronome tempo. Little by little, you’ll catch up.

2. Take a Rest

Unless you’re a guitar prodigy, you can’t expect yourself to learn the whole song in one session. You have to recognize the time when you need to take a rest.

Taking a rest is often overlooked advice when it comes to playing guitar. Your fingers easily get tired and sore. Make sure you give them a rest.

Sometimes a 5 minute rest is all you need. But sometimes even a 1 day of rest is necessary. Taking a rest is an integral part in the process of learning.

3. Work on Finger Dexterity

Finger dexterity is one of the most valuable skills when we talk about guitar playing. You want to have confident hand and finger movements across a fretboard.

You don’t want your fingers to fly around, missing frets and so on.

Here’s the exercise on finger dexterity. It is called spider exercise, and it’s one of the most important exercises. It will help you, not only with Tornado of souls, but with everything you play on your guitar. Play it every day for 10 minutes. After a few weeks, your playing will dramatically improve.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I hope that the analysis brought you some valuable bit of information. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it! It’s always a pleasure to provide help to my fellow guitar brothers.

Take a look at other interesting articles on the site.

Cheers, and rock on!

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