Over the last couple of decades, there’s been an explosion of interest in producing acoustic covers of songs ranging from electric to heavy metal. The quality of acoustic variants ranges from some of them being incredible to many flopping horrendously. The trick to producing a high-quality acoustic rendition is understanding which method to follow. Simply playing a metal or electric song on an acoustic won’t cut it, even though both instruments are closely related. Below, we let you in on the secrets of acoustic version success.
Electric guitars used in metal songs have the power of distortion and sustain, which allows the chords to last longer. One way to tackle this in your acoustic rendition is by strumming out more, which also helps to account for other instruments used in original versions.
Moving Towards Bar Chords
Acoustic guitars, like these beautiful Fairbanks guitars, don’t have the sustain and distortion of an electric. This is why we recommend converting pretty much all power chords into bar chords, which will provide your track with a fuller and longer-lasting sound. You will also need to choose between open chords or bar, but this will largely depend on your intention. Do you embellish, chord pick, or extend chords?
Adding Bass Lines
If you’re playing solo, then learning the bass line for the original song is a good idea. Considering how the bass helps to guide a song, including elements of the bass in your acoustic version will create a more fluid movement throughout your chord progressions.
Including Melody Components
Unless you’re being supported by an accompanying band, we recommend including melodic components within the chord progression. By doing this, you’ll achieve a sound full of appealing extensions and embellishments. This approach to song translation allows for a decent instrumental song, which helps with overall progression.
Techniques for Solos
Metal songs often include solos to provide a break between chorus and verses. Leaving these out of your acoustic version isn’t an option because the song would sound out of balance. However, you won’t be able to simply copy the solo directly onto your acoustic; the lack of distortion and other effects would weaken it.
Slides and Bends
Bending strings on an acoustic guitar is tricky because of the playing position and string gauge, but these can be replaced with sliding to achieve a more real-sounding solo. This doesn’t mean bends always need to be swapped out for slides; you could simply alter the position of the bend because some positions are easier than others.
A chord hit happens while you’re busy playing different riffs in the solo, and you hit the underlying chord. This helps keep solos centered, and it can be executed in any key. In simple terms, you’re drawing out the chord progression that’s being played.
Creating a phenomenal acoustic version of a metal track isn’t always easy. However, by following the approach outlined above, you’ll create a unique version that will still be faithful to the original version.