Is Master Of Puppets Hard To Play? Here’s How To Learn It


Master Of Puppets is perhaps one of the most recognizable metal song ever recorded.

Have you ever thought about why does everyone talk about Master Of Puppets, in terms of guitar playing? Is it hard to play?

Master Of Puppets is hard to play. That’s because of its fast tempo (212 BPM) and downstrokes. It’s all downstrokes, for which you have to have very strong wrist and advanced sense of rhythm.

There ain’t a metal guitarist that didn’t even attempt to play it. Master Of Puppets is not just a metal anthem, it’s also an indicator of how good your guitar playing is.

Here’s what makes it so hard to master (no pun intended).

1. Downstrokes

Downstrokes are signature heavy and trash metal technique. You cannot consider yourself a metal guitarist if you haven’t mastered downstroke playing style yet.

Master Of Puppets is especially emphasizing downstroke playing, as it’s one of the best examples of James Hetfield’s famouse playing style. It’s played all in downstrokes, and that’s what is making it so hard.

Downstrokes are hard for someone who’s a guitar beginner, due to several reasons:

  • palm muting

Palm muting is essential for performing downstrokes. Why? It’s simple. If you don’t use your palm to mute the tone, your downstrokes will sound noisy, muddy and poor.

That’s why you just have to have palm muting technique mastered.

How To Learn To Palm Mute Strings Properly?

Place your hand on the strings. Slowly start to pick one string, for example low E. While you’re downstroking low E string, try to change the position and pressure of the palm you’re exerting on your strings.

The crucial thing is to find out the perfectly balanced palm mute. Palm mute that’s too loose and weak will result in the noisy, and muddy tone of your strings.

The tone of the strings that are too weakly palm muted will ring out too much.

Palm mute that’s too strong will result in the tone that’s too cut out. In other words, the strings that are too strongly palm muted won’t ring as much as you want them to.

  • picking depth

When you downstroke, it’s important to save as much energy as possible. Picking depth is the distance traveled by your hand every time you pick the string.

Try to reduce this movement as much as possible. That way you’ll save a significant amount of energy that’s needed to perform downstrokes properly and in tempo.

Downstroking Requires Patience

Downstroking requires a lot of time and patience. The crucial thing is to start very slow, and then gradually begin to increase the metronome.

Check out in details how to practice downstroke technique.

2. Fast Tempo

Master of Puppets have tempo of around 212 BPM. Metallica used to play it even faster in the 80’s.

With its fast tempo, one has to be advanced guitar player in order to follow the tempo with ease.

In order to play it with ease, you’ll almost certainly have to slow down the metronome and practice until you gradually get to the original tempo of playing.

3. Advanced Rhythm Patterns

Most classical metal songs have an usual 4/4 rhythm pattern. Master of Puppets have that pattern also, but there’s more to it, once James Hetfield’s starts to sing.

There’s also a 5/8 rhythm pattern, and 2/4 pattern mixed with a regular 4/4 pattern.

That means that the rhythm in the song isn’t simple and straightforward. This advanced rhythm is part of what makes Master of Puppets hard to play. Advanced rhythmic patterns are something beginners struggle to grasp and master.

Check out the article I wrote about what makes a difference between an intermediate guitar player and a beginner.

4. Soloing

There are two main solos in Master of Puppets. First solo is slower, melodic, solo played in harmony with two guitars.

If you listen to studio version of the song, that solo starts at around 3:50. But that particular solo isn’t that hard to play.

Second solo is much harder. It starts at around 5:42 (studio version). Why is it hard to play that solo?

It’s because it employs a few of the advanced guitar techniques. First, you have to have strong fingers in order to produce a good tone when using hammer on’s and pull off’s.

Second, you have to develop a very fast picking speed, which takes practice.

Third, you have to master a bending technique, as this solo employs very advanced string bending licks. If you struggle with string bending, I recommend you to check the article from this page about it.

And lastly, you have to have a very good whammy bar technique, as this solo employs a several “dive bombs” with a whammy bar.

5. Sound Output Adjustment

Suppose that you’ve just learned to play Master of Puppets from beginning to the end. You plug your guitar in the amp and start to play.

All of a sudden, you notice how the sound coming from the amp is muddy and bad. A part of what makes this song hard to play is the fact that it’s hard to adjust the amp settings in order to make the sound good.

When you downpick through the main riff, it just sounds noisy and muddy. The key is to find the right setting of the tone and volume pots both on your guitar and your amp.

If you struggle with this issue, I recommend you to watch this cool video on how to get the exact sound as it is on Master of Puppets whole album.

Final Words

I hope this article gave you an insight about how to play this legendary song. If it helped you, I’m more than happy about it.

It is always a pleasure to help my fellow guitar brothers on their guitar journey!

Anyway, don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles from this site about various guitar topics and issues!

Cheers, and rock on!

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