Scary-hard songs to learn on guitar

It’s the scariest time of the year.

We know you’re up for a challenge, so why not take on a new guitar song that’s terrifyingly challenging?


“Eruption” – Van Halen 



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Eddie Van Halen’s face-melting guitar solo on Van Halen’s 1978 debut album showcased his tapping and squealing guitar prowess – and it’s often considered the best guitar solo of all time. For a leg up on learning this song, check out our Eddie Van Halen Player Study Course


“Through the Fire and Flames” – Dragonforce 

@fret_zealot Replying to @the_bone_doc #ThroughTheFireAndFlames by #DragonForce with #tabs from the #FretZealot app 🔥 #Guitar #Metal #GuitarTabs #SpeedMetal #Prog #ProgMetal #GuitarTok ♬ Through The Fire And Flames – DragonForce


“Through the Fire and Flames” was famously featured in Guitar Hero III – causing a lot of frustration for players, as it was one of the most difficult songs in the game. With a speed of 200 BPM, this song will give your fingers a real workout. 


“Cliffs of Dover” – Eric Johnson 

@fret_zealot “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson with Fret Zealot #Guitar #GuitarTabs #GuitarLessons #LearnGuitar #GuitarSong #Guitarist ♬ Cliffs Of Dover – Instrumental – Eric Johnson



Another instrumental composition that shows off the skills of its guitarist, “Cliffs of Dover” starts with an ad-libbed guitar solo. This song was also featured on Guitar Hero III. 


“CAFO” – Animals As Leaders 


Most guitarists probably find Animals As Leaders songs punishingly hard, as AAL guitarist Tosin Abasi is one of the greatest technical guitarists around. 


“Master of Puppets” – Metallica 


The title track of Metallica’s 1986 album is difficult because of the odd meters used in the fast, heavy riffs. The song was prominently featured in Stranger Things 4 and – SPOILER – Eddie Munson must have been a musical genius to be able to play it front to back the same year it came out without online tabs or videos! 


“Heartbreaker” – Led Zeppelin 


If you’ve ever thought that Jimmy Page’s guitar solo on “Heartbreaker” sounds different than the rest of the track, you’re right. Page told Guitar World in 1998 that the track was recorded separately in a different studio than the rest of the song. It was also the first time he used his  Gibson Les Paul/Marshall Stack combo for recording. 


“Neon” – John Mayer 


John Mayer has said his technique for playing his 1999 song “Neon” is a trick similar to “the kid at school turning his eyelids inside out”. In March 2021, Mayer uploaded a TikTok video sharing a “guitar tip” on how to play the song, which is to move your thumb and index finger back and forth on the guitar strings. 


 “U forgot to explain the step where u just dislocate your thumb,” one commenter pointed out. 


“Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynryd 


“Free Bird” might be a bit of a punchline among guitarists – who hasn’t been hassled by a drunk audience member requesting it before? But the solo, which kicks in around the 4:55 mark, is a bona fide endurance contest of short licks that takes plenty of technique to master. Or, you can always troll the audience:


[TikTok video of Shane’s Free Bird request]


Reasons you should learn a new instrument

If you’ve already mastered (or at least gotten pretty good at) one instrument, it might be worth considering picking up a new one. Not only will it be a new challenge for you, it will reinvigorate your interest in playing music by giving you a whole new device to explore. 


Here are some reasons to learn a second instrument: 


Learning a second instrument won’t be as difficult as learning the first one 

If you already know scales, chords, rhythm and key signatures, you’re halfway there. Learning a new instrument will involve putting the principles you already understand to work – much easier than trying to learn the instrument and music theory at the same time. 


It’s a challenge for your brain and your body 

Learning another instrument is similar to switching up your routine in the gym. Learning something new will challenge both your mind and your body to help keep you in the best shape possible! 

It makes you more versatile as an artist and a performer 

If you play multiple instruments, your musical possibilities are wider! Not only will you be able to play multiple instruments on any tracks that you record, but you’ll be a more attractive candidate to any band looking for a new member. Suddenly, you’re not just a guitarist – you’re a guitarist AND a bassist/keyboardist, etc. You may even find that you prefer the new instrument over the one you already know. 


Learning a new instrument can freshen your perspective on music 

Think back to how exciting it was when you were learning your first instrument – every milestone you hit felt like a huge breakthrough! You can recapture that feeling again by learning a new instrument. 


It’s fun! 

With Fret Zealot, learning the guitar, ukulele, or bass guitar is fun and easy. With step-by-step lessons and an optional LED system that shows you exactly where to put your fingers, you’ll be playing a second instrument in a couple of months. 


How to clean your guitar

What’s the last time you cleaned your guitar?

Oils and sweat from your hands, dust, and other contaminants can grime up your guitar. Use these tips to give your guitar a good cleaning and make sure that it lasts you a long time. 


Wash your hands first 

Even if your hands look clean, they’re a source of oil. Make sure that you scrub yourself up before getting to work cleaning your guitar. 


Take off the strings 

…and consider changing them if they look or sound dirty, discolored or dull. 


Clean the fretboard 

Wipe down the guitar’s fretboard using a soft cloth. You can use a clean T-shirt or another similar material, or a specially-designated cleaning cloth. Make sure to wipe down the front, back, and sides, clearing off any places your hands may have touched it during the process. 


Clean the guitar 

Repeat the process for the body of the guitar. 


Use a polish on the guitar body

If your guitar’s finish is gloss (poly-finish), spray a guitar polish onto a soft cloth and wipe it down. Buff the polish out with a dry cloth. 


Clean the hardware 

Use a soft cloth and a small amount of guitar polish to remove dirt, dust and grime from your guitar’s hardware. 


For more tips for overall guitar maintenance, check out this Ultimate Guitar Maintenance Guide. 


@fret_zealot Does your guitar need to be cleaned? Here’s a guide 🧹🧼🧽 #guitar #guitartok #cleanguitar #guitarcleaning #music #guitarist ♬ Storytelling – Adriel

How chords can influence the mood of a song

Writing a new song but feeling stuck when it comes to chord progressions?

Chords are the building blocks of any song, and they can influence the mood of your song – and the mood of the listener. 

Like all art, music is subjective, but here are some general associations between chord type and song mood. 

Major chords: Brighten the mood of a song 


Minor chords: Darken the mood of a song by creating “dissonance”, usually from the minor third or 5th note. 

Using both major and minor chords in a song will enrich the texture and depth of a song. You can use either minor chords or major chords strategically to enhance the gravity or hopefulness of a certain lyric. 

You can also substitute a minor chord for a major chord in a progression to darken the mood of a piece of music. 

For example, in John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, the chorus chord progression is: 


                     G                            D          Em             C

“Country Roads, take me home, to the place I belong”


       G                   D                              C                    G


West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”

The E minor chord in the first line of the song helps lend a note of melancholy to the overall upbeat nature of the chorus, lending the chorus an air of wistful homesickness that makes it a more dynamic song. 


There’s a lot more to chords than simply major or minor. Chord variations such as 7ths, 9th, and suspended can also impact the mood of a chord. 


A 2010 German study charted several different chord types and their associated emotions.


Here are some general associations with other types of chords: 


7th: Cool, jazzy 


Dominant 7th: Mysterious


Minor 7th: Emotional, hopeful 


Diminished: Dark 


There’s no correct or wrong way to write a chord progression – but play around with different combinations of chords until you find the perfect one for your song! You can find every chord in the Fret Zealot app. 

Scary songs to learn on guitar for Halloween

Spooky season is here. Check out these creepy songs to learn on guitar to get you in the Halloween spirit! 

“Monster Mash”

You can either learn the original 1962 version of this Halloween novelty song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, or The Misfits’ 1997 cover!







“Creep” – Radiohead 

Radiohead’s debut single “Creep” – and one of their most successful songs – wasn’t supposed to be released at all. The band recorded the song at the request of their producers and released it as a single in 1992. It didn’t become a hit until it was re-released in 1993. 

“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon 

Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon’s comedy rock hit “Werewolves of London” features some big names on the track – Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood and John McVie played drums and bass on the song. 

“Hell’s Bells” – AC/DC

The creepy bell featured at the start of this 1980 track is an actual 2,000 lbs. bronze bell. It was recorded using a mobile studio inside of the bell’s foundry in England.

“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne said their 1977 hit was written with the idea of “Alice Cooper writing a Randy Newman-type ballad”. Although the song’s inspiration was purely creative, it was released around the same time as the Son of Sam killings – an eerie coincidence. 

“Poison” – Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper (aka Vincent Furnier’s) co-writer on “Poison”, Desmond Child, worked with another theatrical act. Child also produced Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell III”. “It’s a fine line between somebody telling the true story of their life in a song and also what their character type calls for,” Child told Songfacts


Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”

It wouldn’t be right to make a list of Halloween songs and not include the “Prince of Darkness”! “Crazy Train” was Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s debut solo single. With a maniacal laugh at the start of the track, an iconic riff, and lyrics dealing with the fear of annihilation during the Cold War, it’s a great song to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

“Them Bones” –  Alice in Chains

“Them Bones”, off of Alice in Chains’ 1992 album “Dirt”, deals with themes of death and mortality. Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who wrote the song, told R.I.P. Magazine in 1993, “Death freaks me out. I think it freaks a lot of people out. It’s the end of life, depending on your views. It’s a pretty scary thing. ‘Them Bones’ is trying to put that thought to rest. Use what you have left, and use it well.”

“Am I Evil” – Metallica/Diamond Head 

Metallica’ 1984 version of “Am I Evil” popularized the song, but it was originally released by British heavy metal band Diamond Head. The song evolved over the course of 18 months with different parts being added on, Diamond Head’s co-founder/ guitarist Brian Tatler told Louder. 



Pre-show superstitions and rituals of famous musicians

It’s easy to dismiss superstitious beliefs – Stevie Wonder famously sang about it in one of the catchiest songs of all time. However, performing a ritual before a stressful task – like playing a sold-out show, for example – can actually help alleviate anxiety, helping promote a good performance, a study by Harvard Business Review found. 

During the study, researchers conducted four experiments during which the participants performed a ritual before completing stressful tasks, which included singing “Don’t Stop Believing” for an audience and taking a math test. 

They concluded that performing a “ritual” before a high-stakes situation can ease feelings of anxiety, allowing the ritual-performer to do better on the task. 

Many famous musicians have pre-show rituals to help them perform their best. Here are some of them: 


The Rolling Stones

Don’t touch Keith Richards’ Shepherd’s Pie! The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist has a rule that he must have a pre-show Shepherd’s Pie (an English pub favorite) and that he’s the one who breaks the crust. “Nobody touches the pie till I’ve been in there,” Richards wrote in his 2010 autobiography Life.  “Don’t bust my crust, baby.”


Led Zeppelin 

Led Zeppelin was famous for their hard-partying antics during the band’s heyday – but the remaining members have calmed down a bit. During their reunion show in 2007, lead singer Robert Plant requested a special spot to iron his shirts. He explained that the task of ironing his own shirts helps to get him into the mood to perform. 

Foo Fighters

These rockers get ready for a show by listening to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album and downing some Jager bombs (aka “David Lee Roth juice”, lead singer Dave Grohl said in 2007



The British band has a quiet moment and a group hug together before they perform. Lead singer Chris Martin has some additional rituals of his own, including brushing his teeth. “For me, there are about 18 things I have to do before I can go out to perform—most of them are too ridiculous to repeat!” Martin told Clash Music in 2009. 

Taylor Swift

Triskaidekaphobia, where? Any true Swiftie knows that Taylor’s lucky number is 13, and the singer/songwriter used to write the number on her hand or body before each performance. She doesn’t appear to do this ritual anymore – but she now has the most number one albums by a woman in history, so maybe it worked! 


Mumford & Sons

Before a show, the members of Mumford & Sons light some palo santo wood, a type of wood native to South America and used in ritual purification there. Lead singer Marcus Mumford has said that the fumes of palo santo seem to be the only thing that can help his pre-show headaches. 


Leonard Cohen 

The late singer/songwriter used to prepare for shows with a whiskey and a Latin phrase – “Pauper sum ego, nihil habeo”, meaning  “I am poor, I have nothing.”

Do you have a pre-show ritual? Let us know what it is in the comments! 

Fret Zealot’s Fall 2023 playlist

Fall is here! Here are all of the songs the Fret Zealot team is listening to this season – and songs that remind us of autumn.

What are you listening to this season? Let us know in the comments.


Ways to avoid back pain while playing guitar

Whether you’ve been playing for a little while or a really long time, avoiding back pain is eventually going to be a factor for most guitar players. Especially if you spend a lot of time playing, paying attention to your posture will really affect your long-term comfort while playing guitar. 


Here are some ways to avoid back pain while playing guitar #guitar #guitartok #guitarplayer #guitarist #playingguitar #back #backpain #cramp

♬ original sound – Fret Zealot

The #1 tip for avoiding back pain is your posture. 

Keep your spine straight and afloat while playing. Try to avoid curling your spine over the guitar to look at your frets. Think about your vertebrae – you don’t want them crunched into each other. Instead, find a natural, comfortable posture where your neck and spine are straight. 

It’s important to have the right tools. 

If you like to sit while playing, use a stool rather than sitting in a chair with arms. This will allow your guitar to sit naturally, without you having to shift over and accommodate it. 

The most natural way to play guitar is to stand while you play. It’s recommended to stand for performances if you can to ensure that your back stays straight. 

It’s also important to have a guitar strap that fits correctly. If you find you have sore shoulders after a long playing session, look into getting a strap that has some padding, or is wider to better distribute the weight of your guitar. 

If you’re having back pain while playing guitar, check out how much your guitar weighs, and consider swapping it for a lighter model. Anything over 8 lbs. is considered a heavy guitar. 

For more advice in keeping good posture (and preventing back pain) in everyday life, check out the Alexander technique.

Add these movies about music to your streaming list!

If you love watching movies about music, check out these titles on your next movie night! From biopics to comedies, each of these movies also have great soundtracks. 

Walk The Line (2005) 


Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon star in this biopic about Johnny Cash’s early life and his evolution into being the “Man in Black”. The film’s actors perform the songs in the movie, including “Folsom Prison Blues”. 

Folsom Prison Blues


This is Spinal Tap (1984) 


“Spinal Tap – The Majesty of Rock” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This mockumentary follows the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap on their tour of America. The film parodies the excesses of rock bands of the time, as well as documentaries about rock bands like The Song Remains the Same. The film also spawned the term “up to eleven”. 


Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) 


Bohemian Rhapsody follows the life of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, from the band’s inception to their iconic 1985 Live Aid performance. The soundtrack includes many of the band’s songs and previously unreleased recordings. Including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “We Will Rock You”. 


Wayne’s World (1992) 


“Wayn’s World” by Ned Vizzini is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Based on an SNL sketch, Wayne’s World follows a pair of metalheads who run a public cable access show in Aurora, Ill. The film features cameos from Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper, and the soundtrack famously features “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a driving scene. 








Purple Rain (1984) 


Purple Rain features Prince in his acting debut. The musician had told his manager after the release of his album 1999 that he wouldn’t renew his contract with him unless he was able to star in a studio film. He also scored the film, including the title track, “Purple Rain”. 


Straight Outta Compton (2015) 


This biopic details the history of hip-hop group N.W.A. Original members of the group Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as producers on the film, as well as Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright. MC Ren and DJ Yella were creative consultants on the project. 

A Star is Born (2018) 

Romantic drama

The 2018 version of this movie, starting Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is actually the fourth American adaptation. The 1937 original starred Janet Gaynor, 1954’s starred Judy Garland, and 1976’s starred Barbara Streisand. The lead song off of the 2018 soundtrack, “Shallow”, won an Oscar for “Best Original Song”. 

Shallow from A Star Is Born Fret Zealot lesson Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper


The Wall (1982) 

Musical drama 

The 1982 film The Wall was based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album of the same name, and Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters wrote the screenplay. The film is metaphorical and features little dialogue, driven instead by music from the album, including “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2”. 


La Bamba (1987) 


La Bamba followed the life of Chicano rock and roll star Ritchie Valens. The title comes from a Mexican folk song, famously recorded by Valens in 1958. Los Lobos covered the song for the soundtrack. 

What are your favorite music movies? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the Fret Zealot instructors – Dan Holton

In this new series, we’re introducing you to the Fret Zealot instructors! Fret Zealot has dozens of teachers with unique backgrounds and styles, so that you can find the one who’s right for you. 


Name: Dan Holton


What’s your name/organization?
Dan Holton/Your Guitar Academy Ltd

How long have you played guitar?
20 years

What got you into guitar?
Eric Clapton!

Why are you passionate about music?
The guitar is a beautiful blend of creativity and expressionism that I fell in love with at the age of 16 and never looked back!

Who is your favorite band/artist? 
Clapton, Bonamassa, Radiohead, Muse, Jeff Buckley, Vulfpeck… and many more!

What’s your favorite style of music to play on guitar? 
Blues and soul
Here are some of Dan’s lessons and courses: