Holy Wars Guitar Lesson – Megadeth

In this video guitar lesson series, I will show you how to play note-for-note what is considered by most metal fans to be Megadeth's greatest song, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".

This Holy Wars guitar lesson is definitely no walk in the park. We are actually going to be tackling all the highly intricate guitar riffs and all 4 guitar solos in-depth. It is going to be quite the challenge so I hope you will stay will me through all 4 videos!

In the first video lesson I will show you the main riffs of the intro. In the second video lesson I will demonstrate all the riffs found in the rest of the song, There are a lot of them!

The third video lesson will cover all three of Marty Friedman's incredible guitar solos note-for-note. The fourth video lesson will wrap things up with a close look at Dave Mustaine's solo at the end of the song.

The opening riff is a Dave Mustaine classic. Fast, tight, precise and absolutely ripping. You are gonna want to pay close attention to the picking indications in the first video lesson for that part. Otherwise, your picking hand will probably have a lot of trouble getting everything up to speed.

From there we move on to the main riff that involves a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs with rapid palm muted alternate picking between them. Timing is the big issue in this section.

You will want to make sure you can feel these rhythms internally before attempting to play them up to speed.

And since both of these riffs require a high amount of articulation between the fret and picking hands, I suggest practicing them quite slow at first.

You will want to wait until the riffs are mostly just muscle memory before attempting them at full speed.

Let's see if you got what is takes to play these riffs! They are a great challenge!

After that we finally make it to the second video lesson. There are many riffs taught in this lesson but by far the most difficult will be the first verse. It moves around a ton with lots of fast picking and interesting chord voicings. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

For the third video lesson we finally make it to the guitar solos. The first three solos are performed by the incredible Marty Friedman. His playing style is always highly musical yet very unorthodox. He doesn't play the typical guitar licks that are found in most guitarist's playing. You will find a number of challenging techniques within these 3 solos including economy picking, large skips and sweep picking. I will break down each solo phrase-by-phrase which I think is a great way to practice them as well.

In the fourth and final video lesson I will take you through Dave Mustaine's guitar solo. This guitar solo is quite different in style from the Friedman solos. Dave Mustaine's in your face soloing style can be highly chaotic and hard to recreate. However there are many incredible licks to be learned here and a few of them are incredibly challenging to get up to tempo. Good Luck!

Hope you guys enjoy learning what I consider to be one of the greatest thrash metal songs of all-time. 🙂


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Holy Wars Guitar Lesson Pt. 1 - Opening Riffs

Holy Wars Guitar Lesson Pt. 2 - Guitar Riffs Pt.2

Holy Wars Guitar Lesson Pt. 3 - Marty Friedman's Solos

Holy Wars Guitar Lesson Pt. 4 - Dave Mustaine's Solo


  1. Mark Daniel on May 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Carl,
    Thank you so much.

  2. Stormin' on October 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    How is it that your low E string sounds so lose and “floppy” when speed-picking it? That’s the sound I’m trying to achieve, but never can. Not sure if it’s string quality, pick-ups or amp effects.

    • Carl Brown on October 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      What you are hearing there is a result of the old way we used to film the lessons.

      The audio mic for my voice used to be placed in the room and the guitar signal was sent direct. The clicky floppy sound is what the room mic for my voice is picking up. That is placed on top of the guitar audio.

      We eventually switched to a lapel mic to avoid it picking up the sound of the unamplified guitar strings in the room. 🙂

  3. Stormin' on October 7, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Maybe you can list out what you’re using and playing through, from strings to amp.

    • Carl Brown on October 18, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      When I shot this lesson I was using D’Addario 10’s through the John Petrucci pickups. I forget their name actually.

      From there it went straight into a Fractal Audio AXE-FX II and then directly into the computer via my Focusrite audio interface.

      Everything is then edited in Logic Pro.

  4. Stormin' on October 20, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Which Music Man guitar is that you’re playing?

    • Carl Brown on October 24, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      It is one of the cheaper John Petrucci models. The Sterling by Music Man JP100 to be exact.

      However, I upgraded the pickups to the John Petrucci signature dimarzios.


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