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Song Tips 1 (Pop and Rock)

The Justinguitar.com Transcribing Course

I'm planning on doing another few pages of songs like this in other styles too - this stuff is mainly pop rock. Note that the CD links are not working just yet - will sort it sometime when time allows - too much to do... Have fun.

NOTE: I AM RE-WORKING THESE TIPS AND AM TAKING SONGS OUT OF THIS LESSON AND INTO OTHERS!

Song List (to be found below) 

Animals - The House Of The Rising Sun
Coldplay - Trouble
Foo Fighters - Next Year
Foo Fighters - Times Like These
Green Day - Time Of My Life
Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Green Day - Hold On
Guns n Roses - Knockin On Heavens Door
Iron Maiden - Flight Of Icarus
Jack Johnson - Gone
Jack Johnson - Times Like These
Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
REM - Everybody Hurts
Travis - Sing
Travis - Writing To Reach You
Troggs - Wild Thing
White Stripes - Cold, Cold Night
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

Animals - The House Of The Rising Sun
The chords are easy, the songs is a classic and you play it many ways.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Amin, C, D, F and E (open chords - except F).
Rundown: The basic progression goes Am, C, D, F then Am, C and E. This is basic form of the tune, now try to play along. If you can't work out the picking (use a pick and roll it slowly across the strings) then just strum along.
Once you know the chords try playing it in other styles, or try working out some of the other versions, as many people have played this song.
I hope you find this one pretty easy but remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Coldplay - Trouble
This tune is originally played on piano, but is lovely on guitar. Check it out. You need to know your barre chords and this tune is great for changing between the open chords and barres.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Open chords: G, Emin, G, A and Bares: Bmin, F, F#min.
Rundown: The verse and intro sequence is G, Em, Bmin then, F, Am, G. This sequence is repeated for the verses. The chorus is just A and Em chords, very simple. The Bridge is a bit strange, Em, F#m, G, F#m, and the changes are quite fast.
Because you are playing it on guitar, you can play it how you like, so experiment, try using fingerstyle and various strumming patterns.
This tune can be a bit of a challenge because you have to listen to the piano parts. If you want to really check out the guitar parts deeply, the guitar plays very little in the main riff and verses, just an open string 2 note riff, if you listen closely, sometimes playing a descending lead line too. The chorus has a nice slide part. Later in the song there are some very nice chords that are a bit more complex, the first is G6 (TAB: x x 14 12 12 10) and then D6 (TAB: x x 9 7 7 5), require quite a stretch, I guess the guy might have used an odd tuning.

Foo Fighters - Next Year
Not only did Dave Grohl get to play drums in probably the most influential bands of the 90's but also he plays great guitar, writes great songs, sings great and really delivers. Don't you just hate that. In this song he uses very simple chords and makes a great song.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Open G, D, C and A and sometimes A/C#
A/C# (TAB:x 4 2 2 2 x) - first finger part barre at 2nd and use 3rd finger on the low C# note Rundown: This one start on the G chord and then D to C with an occasional A thrown in for good measure. It is a great one for beginner transcribers. The only funny bit is when he uses the A/C# in the chorus, I'm sure you can find it!
It is a great tune to play along with too, nice strummy stuff.
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Foo Fighters - Times Like These
This is not a beginners tune, but it is a great one to push on a little. It is in an odd time (7/8) but you will get used to it if you listen enough. The riff might cause problems but the rest should be fine.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Intro uses a strange D13 chord, the rest is riff or D, Am, C and Em
D13 (TAB: x 5 0 5 0 5) - have to be careful here with finger placement so you let the open strings ring out Rundown: The intro uses the D13. The verses go D, Am, C and Em. The Chorus C, Em and D. The hard part is the riff. Have a go and try to get it, it uses open strings and then notes at the 10th, 11th and 12 fret on the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings. If you get stuck then run a search for the tab on the web but just steal the riff. and work out the rest yourself
The riff can be quite hard to play along with but the rest should be ok.
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Green Day's new album American Idiot is awesome. Great songs, great concept and great musicians. This first single is quite an easy one if you get the trick - capo at 1st fret makes all the difference...
Tuning: Normal - Capo at 1st fret
Chords Used: Open Chords Emin, G, D and A and Power Chords C5, G5, D5, E5 and B5
Rundown: The main chord sequence uses the Emin, G, D and A chords strummed. Listen closely and try to pick up the rhythm. The power chords start as we go into the chorus, first with the cycle C5, G5, D5 and low E5 (uses the low open E note) and then the B5 going back into the verses. That should be enough for you to get going.
The end part is a little trickier to work out.... I could tell you the notes but that would be no fun... have a go at working out the notes one at a time - if you really don't get it leave a message in the forum and might put it there ;-).
Try to play along as soon as you get the chord changes fast enough, great fun..
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Green Day - Hold On
This song is a great easy one by Green Day. They really rock, even with acoustic guitars.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Open chords: G, C, D and Emin
Rundown: The verse and intro sequence uses only G, C and D so go for it. The chorus introduces and Emin chord and that is it!! Go on, off you go and work it out....
Oh yeah, and make sure you get the strumming right!

Green Day - Time Of My Life
Greenday are an awesome band and this is a very popular tune. To get the picking exactly right may take you a little while but to play along with the right chords should not take you too long.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used:
G (TAB: 3 2 0 0 3 3)
Cadd9 (TAB: x 3 2 0 3 3)
D (TAB: x x 0 2 3 2)
Emin7 (TAB: 0 2 2 0 3 0)Rundown: The basic groove is two bars of G, then Cadd9 and D for a bar each. The picking is plectrum flatpicking, sounds like fingerstyle but more strummy. Try to keep your 3rd finger down most of the time. Also concentrate on the rhythm, check out the rhythm patterns in the beginners lessons too, there are some similar there. It then goes into a Emin7, D, Cadd9, G part.
The chorus uses Emin7, G twice, followed by Emin7 D and then the same pattern as the intro.
It is a great tune to play along too.
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Guns n Roses - Knockin On Heavens Door
The G'n'R version of this classic Dylan song is a great one for working out your open chords. You can take it a bit further too and try to get down the strumming and the way Slash picks out the notes too. Later on it is also great for learning the solos, but maybe leave that for now!
Tuning: Eb Tuning (every string tuned down a semitone)
Chords Used: G, D and C chords and G5, D5 and C5 Power Chords
Rundown: There are two very different guitar tracks on this record. The intro shows the main guitar part very clearly. A clean guitar playing chords, but picking the notes out instead of strumming. You might want to just strum along to start off with - remember that the whole chord is held down while the notes are picked out - so the strings ring together.
Those more adventurous might discover that the C chord is really Cadd9 (TAB: x 3 2 0 3 3) chord and that the D often uses the Dsus4 or Dsus2 as replacements. If you know those chords maybe try putting them in and using them for the picking out the notes stuff.
The second part is playing power chords through most of the tune. This should be pretty easy. Just G, D and C over and over. Listen to it and try to emulate the rhythms.
I will deal with the solo in another lesson.
This track is not for complete beginner transcriber but should still be pretty easy, with the arpeggiated part maybe causing a few people problems, but fight through the problem and you will be a better transcriber for it.
The album this is of is one of my recommended greatest rock guitar cd's. You should certainly check it out. It's wicked.

Iron Maiden - Flight Of Icarus
This song uses power chords and is one of the easiest Maiden songs to work out.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: F#, E, D, C#, D, B and E Power Chords, and also E/G# (TAB: 4 7 6 x x x) which uses 1st 3rd and 4th fingers, it is actually an E chord with a G# on the bass.
Rundown: This tune is a good one to get going into metal power chords transcribing with many chords sustaining and not too many changes. Some of the rhythms are a bit tricky but if you listen to the tune a bunch of times you should find that you can pick them up ok. The intro uses F# A and E chords - listen to hear the order! The verses use F#, E/G#, B and C# - make sure you listen closely to the rhythms, it should be two down strums and then two up. The chorus rhythms get a bit tricky but the chords are F#, E, D, C#, D and E - again listen to the track to get the order exactly. Remember this is about you working it out - it will make you a lot better player.
Tip: Check out the lesson on Power Chords in the beginners section if you are not sure how to play them, or want to make sure that you are doing them exactly right.
This track is a beginner/intermediate level transcriber rock metal tune.
Iron Maiden have loads of cool guitar songs, many with flashy fast guitar parts that are hard to work out, but a great challenge!

Jack Johnson - Gone
Jack Johnson is a personal favorite of mine, and this song was the one that turned me round and made me check out more. It is a simple song using barre chords and a very nice fingerstyle pattern.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Barres: E, C#min, G#, A F#, B
Rundown: The main riff bit is just E to C#m but it is the right hand picking that is what makes it unique and funky. The first note (E, 5:7) is played with the thumb, the second note (B 4:9) is played with your first finger, and then you should use your 2nd and 3rd fingers together to strum the chord. Check it out, the pattern stays for the whole song.
The Verses go E, G#, C#m to A round a few times and then into the F#m and B. The chorus is just E, B, C#m and A. This tune is a great example of how a tune can be simple but also wicked and powerful.
I hope you are diggin it.

Jack Johnson - Times Like These
Jack Johnson is a legend. Great surfer, great songwriter, and this a great song, and pretty easy one too.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Barres: A, B and F#min and Open E.
Rundown: The tune starts with a B chord, then the main groove starts going from the A down to the Open E. When the On and On bit starts it goes to the F#m to B. These are the only chords so go for it and try to work it out.
The rhythm pattern is quite specific in this tune, even though you can of course make up your own pattern, having the clicks on beats 2 and 4, which are made by putting your picking hand down and kind of picked but with all the strings muted (the barre lifted a little bit).
The ending bit ("somehow I know") is very nice and no tab on the web gets it right so here it is:
F#m E
|--2------------------|
|--2------------------|
|--2------------------|
|--4------------------| (Note: Slide up to the 9th fret with the 3rd finger.)
|--4-----7--9--/11---| (Note 2: Let the open E ring out with the note at 11th fret)
|--2--/9---------0---|

Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl
This Aussie band rock and this single is pretty easy to work out if you get the hints.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Barre chords, A, D, C, G and E (so you have to know both E and A shape barres).
Rundown: This starts with drums and then bass, the riff that enters the tune uses the A min pentatonic at the 5th position - if you can't get it then just go onto the rhythms part.
The main riff is just an A chord at 5th fret and the two bar rhythm pattern is very distinctive and you have to get the strumming order right: Down, down, down, up, up ,up, down, up, down. Just get the stops in the right place.
The Chorus goes D and the C and G quickly after each other. After playing the sequence 4 times it goes into A, C, D and A chords, the last time moving up to the E and then G (right up at the 10th fret). Listen a bunch of times and you are sure to get it.
The solo is too messy to bother working out properly, it's kinda based on the Amin pentatonic scale (in position 2).
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
Hendrix is a pretty hard guy to work out in general. I had loads of problems when I was learning trying to get his stuff down. This track is not too hard but don't make it your first go at transcribing. What I will explain is a simplified approach to playing this tune because the real one would be too hard to describable, and if you can work it out you probably don't need my help!
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: (Simplified) Open chords: C, G, D, A and E.
Rundown: The intro riff uses the E minor Pentatonic scale in the open position. It is not too tricky if you have done some blues before but maybe leave it at first.
The main verses play the sequence C, G, D, A and E over and over, but Jimi uses many variations and fills through the tune that you should have a go at. Try playing along with the simple chords and maybe trying to get a bit jiggy with it if you can!
The solo is not a hard one if you are an intermediate player, but if you are starting out, leave it and play rhythm underneath. The outro uses a chromatic riff, very cool, uses only notes on the thickest two strings, the notes to start are C E F F# G, B C C# D you work out the next two, but they are the same pattern. and it ends with an E chord. Check it out it is a very funky riff, and good luck....

REM - Everybody Hurts
Everybody Hurts is a great tune for working on your fingerstyle transcribing. It is quite simple both harmonically and technically.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Open chords: D, G, D/F#, Emin, A, C and Barres: F#min, Bmin. D/F# (TAB: 2 x 0 2 3 x) - use 1st finger on bass.
Rundown: The verses are very simple, just going between D and G, eventually dropping down to the D/F# and onto the chorus which goes Emin to A. Most of the song goes like this, the only other bit is the bridge which starts on the F#min to Bmin and eventually going into a C and G bit going back to the verse progression. Just aim to get it roughly right, don't be too fussy on yourself.
As you develop your fingerstyle technique try to make sure that you use different fingers, don't just use one finger for all the notes. The thumb should play the bass note each time, and the 1st finger should always play the third string, the 2nd finger plays the second string and the 3rd finger plays the thinnest string. This is a very general rule for fingerstlye, it is not always that way but will get you off to a good start.
If you find it easy really try to copy the parts exactly, especially the bridge has an electric distorted part to get through, it's not hard but a bit harder (think Power Chords).

Travis - Sing
Although this was not their biggest song, it is a great one for transcribing barre chords, if you know the basic E and A shape barre chords then you shouldn't have much trouble with this.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: F#min, Bmin, A and E
Rundown: This is a pretty easy pop tune as far as the basic harmonies and strumming guitar part goes. The Verse has an interesting trick in that it goes F#min to Bmin then stays on the Bmin before going back to the F#min. The chorus has the A, E to Bmin thing going on with slight variations.
If you fancy getting a bit harder why not try work out the arpeggiated banjo part. It uses the same chords in different inversions.
I hope you find this one pretty easy but remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Travis - Writing To Reach You
This is one of my favourite Travis tunes, Fran wrote a great song about writing songs! Most of the chords are pretty straight but it also has an excellent example of using suspended chords. There are quite a few chords, but it is not a hard one, the chords are pretty obvious.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Emin, G, Dsus4, D, Dsus2, C, D/F#, B, A and Amin.
Rundown: The Verse of this tune is great. It uses Emin, G and then the Dsus4, D, Dsus2, D pattern that is common through the whole tune. The basic Chorus uses G and D (repeated) and then the C, G, D/F#, Emin to B then A, Amin to D. But... there are many variations of the chords during the tune so you will have to listen closely to the progressions, and make sure you are playing the right things. Make sure that you don't have the cd track too loud or you won't notice if you are playing the wrong chords!
I hope you find this one pretty easy but remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

Troggs - Wild Thing
Wild thing is a very very easy song that is great to start off with.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: A, D, E, G (easy version) - all the basic open chords
Rundown: Make sure you remember to listen to the song a load of times first. The main riff in the song is simply A A D D E E D D with that funky rhythm that gives the riff it's character. The middle part (the "wild thing I think I love you" bit) is going G A G A but the G is played with only the open 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings (the thinnest string is string 1), so it is just a case of lifting off your A chord and playing the strings that are now open, then putting the A chord down.
Watch out for the occasional bar where it stays on the E chord and for the funny rhythms right near the end.
I hope you find this one pretty easy but remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

White Stripes - Cold, Cold Night
This is really cool, firstly cos Meg gets to sing and secondly is uses a great technique called octave playing.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Lots of octaves. Actually C, D, F G and A for the verses, G and A (low) for the chorus bit.
Rundown: So this uses octaves, if you don't know what they are you might have to wait for me to put up a lesson about them sometime in the future. But the basic thing would be if you played a 3 finger Power Chord and lifted the middle note (3rd finger) you would be left with two notes that are an octave apart. These are normally strummed with the thumb (thanks to jazz legend Wes Montgomery) and all the other strings must be totally muted for the technique to sound any good.
If you get the technique down this should not be too hard to work out. Play the first notes and then slide up to the second notes. Stop and then play them again and slide up to the next notes. It's nice to play, the fun is getting your fingers to slide up the strings and staying the right distance apart.
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
This is a modern classic. What a wicked riff... Jack White, you the man. It uses mainly power chords and single notes.
Tuning: Normal
Chords Used: Power Chords: E, G, D, C, B, G and A.
Rundown: Once you get the riff down most of this should fall into place. Start on the note E (6:7), try to play along with the bass, do the notes go up or down? Listen closely and try to play along. If you really can't get it it goes: E, E, G, E , D, C, B. Get that down first and then listen very closely and try to hear that there is a variation every now and then where the melody is slightly different. Try to get that bit too. The Chorus kinda bit introduces the low G power chord and then the A.
This one should not cause you too many problems.
Remember that all transcribing is hard at first but it is a brilliant skill to acquire so please stick at it, you'll be a much better guitar player for it.

 

Lesson ID: TR-501