There are hundreds of techniques to create memorable songs.
Some involve playing with pedal effects, some others rely on utilizing different tunings.
Others simply play the same note twice, but with different instruments.
Believe it or not, something as trivial as this can make a huge difference on a guitar solo.
Twin guitars are very popular in rock and metal music, and here we’ll show you why.
Twinning is achieved when two guitars play either the same note simultaneously, or when there’s an interval of 3rds, 4ths, or 5ths between notes. This method creates fascinating melodies that add more strength to the notes.
Here you’ll learn everything about this technique.
We’ll provide examples of how to do it, along with some famous songs that incorporate twin guitars on them.
What is twinning on guitar?
Twinning is a playing technique.
It involves playing two (or even more) parts of a melody at the same time, by different instruments.
This technique tends to be done with intervals. So, both guitars don’t need to play the exact same note simultaneously.
One guitar can play on, let’s say, C, and the other guitar play on E.
However, both guitars respect a logical series of tempos and rhythms which, overall, can be slightly distorted to create interesting results.
How to know what notes will work well together?
The most obvious approach to finding notes that work together is by playing the same note simultaneously.
This method is known as unison playing.
Another method is playing in harmony, in which guitars respect the same tempo, but play the notes on different pitches.
For this, it’s recommended to learn about intervals, and the most common ones used on twin guitars.
Most common intervals for twinning
When playing twin guitars, the most common interval is the 3rd.
A third encloses three staff positions, where there are three semitones between one note and another. Examples of 3rds are intervals from C to E; A to C#; D to F#; F to A; and so on (check that there are three semi-tones between all the intervals on these examples).
So, in this case, the first guitar plays on a specific scale and the second one plays three notes higher.
Now, while the 3rd interval is the most common one (used a lot by bands such as Iron Maiden or Thin Lizzy), you may find that 4ths and 5ths work perfectly as well.
In the case of 5ths, they are generally used simultaneously with 3rds in studio recordings.
Movement in harmony
In music theory, parallel harmony is a parallel movement of two or more melodies together.
In other words, two or more chords (or notes) share the same intervallic structure, which means that the notes will rise or fall at the same interval.
Although twinning on guitar involves playing the same note (or playing in some interval), you don’t have to use parallel movement every time.
To be more precise, both guitars don’t need to rise and fall simultaneously.
Parallel movements sound fantastic, but finding alternatives it’s also an interesting form of achieving unique results.
The truth is that, on certain occasions, chords may clash (especially when the notes are held for more than two beats). Therefore, using the same parallel harmony is not always recommended.
Practice twinning with melodies from songs you know
Here’s a very fun and useful exercise for you to practice twin guitars.
Pick a song you like. Any song.
Just make sure you do know the song, and that you are able to play it along.
Also, try to find a melodic song. Avoid songs that have too many chord sections, or that are in continual changes.
To be more precise, focus on songs (or parts of a song) in which the guitar melody is so memorable you can easily sing or hum it.
You may also try a solo if you want (if possible, one with little to no shredding, at least on your very first tries).
Once you have picked your song, play your guitar over the melodic part.
Begin by playing the exact same note the guitar on the recorded track is playing. After that, try experimenting a bit.
Play 3rds, 4ths, or even 5ths. Also, play the same note, but on a completely different pitch.
Once you have mastered these methods, go even deeper if you dare, and see if you can add your own notes over the original guitar.
That way, you may create a twin guitar with other hybrid notes that, despite being different (and despite not being 3rds or 4ths), still work together well.
Double stops: You can also twin with yourself
A double stop occurs when you play two notes simultaneously. This occurs solely on string instruments, such as violins and, of course, guitars.
For this, play a note and its fifth (the one above the root note). For instance, play G on the fifth fret of the fourth string, and D (the fifth) on the fifth fret of the fifth string.
Do it either with two fingers or with just one. If the action is not too high, then a double stop with just a finger can be done with little to no effort.
Double stops are fantastic for making a twin guitar on your own. Not to mention, is a way of adding a “second” guitar to a one-guitar band.
After all, double stops add an extra note, without exactly creating a chord (chords are made with three notes at least or more).
Double stops add volume and weight to your songs, so try them out if you haven’t already.
Great examples of twin guitars on classic songs
Theory is great. However, the best way to truly understand how twin guitars work (and sound!) is by listening to real-life examples.
Here we present some great examples of twin guitars in songs.
KISS – Detroit Rock City
One of the most memorable KISS songs also has one of the most memorable twin guitar solos.
The duet between Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley guitars in this track is a must on every twin-guitar list.
Megadeth – She-Wolf
One of the greatest tracks in “Cryptic Writings” also has one of the greatest twin-guitar solos of them all.
Try this one out with your friends!
Also check Hangar 18.
Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
Well, we could make an entire article with A7x songs that have twin guitars.
Unsurprisingly, the combination of Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates’s twin melodies has captivated young and old-schooled guitarists all around the world.
We recommend you check the intro and the guitar solo in Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare to find just one of the many examples that these two guitarists have created.
Other honorable mentions include Afterlife, Coming Home, Carry On, Danger Line, and Blinded in Chains (but seriously, we could just go on and on).
Judas Priest – The Hellion/Electric Eye
Hands down, the most famous twin-guitar duo in the history of metal.
In this opener to their classic album “Screaming for Vengeance”, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton show us a small display of how powerful twin guitars sound in metal.
More Judas Priest classics include Victim of Changes, The Ripper, Heading Out to the Highway, and of course, Breaking the Law.
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
What’s better than adding a second guitar to make an outstanding intro even more epic? I know what: adding a bass guitar to do the same!
Once again, we mention The Trooper because is one of their most iconic songs with this technique. But the truth is, we could simply copy+paste the entire Iron Maiden discography here.
Naturally, we cannot do that, so instead, we just mention some other songs for you to check up on.
The list includes the following: Another Life, Die with your Boots On, Run to the Hills, Hallowed be Thy Name, Aces High, Flash of the Blade, The Duelist, Caught Somewhere In Time, and I better stop here because this list needs to end sooner or later.
Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
We couldn’t leave Thin Lizzy out. This band has arguably popularized twin guitars in the world of rock and metal.
While Whiskey In The Jar is another worthy selection, we prefer this one, since it’s not a cover.
Kyuss – Green Machine
Kyuss used to be a solid stoner rock band. Although the group didn’t have two guitarists, they managed to achieve similar results with their bass guitar.
Green Machine’s solo has Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri playing almost the same notes simultaneously, with minor changes here and there.
Once the guitar solo ends and moves to keep on playing chords, the bass player continues it, creating a fantastic section that shows the versatility of twin guitars in music.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.