By Andrew Catania
Doug Marks, a prominent figure in the contemporary rock and metal guitar community thanks to his more than 30 years of experience as a guitar teacher. He developed what would be known as one of the most popular guitar methods of the world: The Metal Method. Doug’s early days as a teacher started doing private guitar lessons in Denver, Colorado as a way to help other fellow guitar players to develop their potential; he also learned from his students’ questions: when he didn’t know about something, he did the necessary research to find the answer, making him grow as a musician and teacher. When he later moved to Los Angeles, his students were interested in keeping in touch with him. They thought that Doug’s method of instruction was excellent, so he was encouraged by his pupils to find a way to give long distance guitar instruction.
By 1982 he was pursuing a career as a heavy metal musician with his band, named Hawk. Doug had the opportunity to work this project with many great musicians that were not so known at the time: Charlie Morrill (ex-Black Night), Teddy Days (ex Hellion), Scott Travis (Judas Priest, Racer X, Thin Lizzy), David Fefolt (Forgotten Realm, Valhalla) and Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver). Doug managed to release the first Hawk studio release independently in 1986 as his personal project, a solid ten track album with Marks taking the leading guitar role, demonstrating a clean, bright and virtuosic heavy metal sound that was going to support his reputation as a metal guitar teacher.
The Metal Method
To keep in touch with his former students from Denver, and to make his method available to a larger audience, Doug Marks started to develop what was going to be known as The Metal Method. Metal Method Guitar Lessons has founded in 1982 thanks to his students’ questions; this was the way in which the method was shaped from the very beginning, and it owes his success and popularity to the fact that, to this day, Metal Method answers your needs as a guitar player.
The method consisted of a mail-order business in which Doug made his lessons available through audio cassettes and video tapes, where he explained the foundations of guitar playing, from the very beginning, under the assumption that you never picked up a guitar before. This was going to be known as the Basic Course in 1982, and it was the genesis of all. Doug takes you step by step into the paths of heavy metal technique and musical theory in a moderately increasing difficulty that is reasonable regardless of your playing level, avoiding you the pain of getting frustrated with impossible goals and overwhelming information.
The examples are played at different speeds, so you can easily keep up with the music, allowing you to analyze and practice each lesson in a way that you can get the most out of it, without being overwhelmed trying to play them at full speed right away. One of the most successful factors of this course was the fact that you can feel how Doug Marks is talking to you, not to a microphone or recording equipment, but to you as a student, as someone who’s eager to improve! That’s something that was not being offered in the market back in the day: a personal relationship between tutor and student, which is something the Metal Method offers.
The method was successful right from the beginning thanks to the philosophy of great guitar lessons at a lower price, with a high volume of sales. It was expanded into many editions that focused on specific areas of the guitar technique: Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar, Easy Guitar Modes, Guitar Mastery Package, Classic Guitar Licks and many others made in collaboration with guitar legends like Michael Angelo Batio: Speed Kills 1 and 2, Star Licks Master Series videos are an example. The Method has grown into a thriving business with plenty of information for all guitar players out there. In Doug’s website, he interacts with the people, answering their doubts and hanging around with them, showing how down-to-earth he is, and proving that he cares about the students and their learning process.
The Metal Method Legacy
It is amazing how the Doug Marks legacy is evident to this day. Worldwide known guitar masters such as Rusty Cooley or Myles Kennedy have said how important the Metal Method was to them! Doug is right when he states the following on his website: “We’ve been in business since 1982 for one reason – our program works!” The basic course is still going now in his 2016 revision! In the field of guitar lessons, we are always searching for the perfect answer to questions like “how can I play faster?” “How can I approach lead guitar?” “What is the musical theory I should know to play what I like?” and the Metal Method is positively answering these questions to all of us!
The influence of the Method has been around for 34 years already, helping many guitar players out there to achieve the desired improvement in their guitar playing technique. And don’t let the word “metal” fool you: if you are into any other genre like blues, country, jazz, rock, and roll…you will get plenty of advice and useful information from the Method, because of all the resources it has to give to any aspiring artist.