how to play smells like teen spirit

Master Smells Like Teen Spirit on Guitar

Are you a fan of Nirvana’s iconic grunge anthem, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Do you dream of playing this legendary song on the guitar like a rockstar? Look no further! In this guitar tutorial, we’ll walk you through the essential chords, strumming patterns, and techniques needed to master “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” So grab your guitar and get ready to rock!

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn the power chords and unique strumming pattern used in the main riff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
  • Practice the verse/pre-chorus riff and post-chorus riff to nail the transitions and dynamics.
  • Master the distinct guitar intro that sets the mood for the song.
  • While there is no complex guitar solo, focus on adding expression through bends and vibratos in the bridge section.
  • Play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in standard tuning (E A D G B E) with a tempo of 117 BPM.

The Main Riff / Main Chord Progression

smell like teen spirit chords

The main riff of Smells Like Teen Spirit is played with power chords. It forms the foundation of the song’s iconic sound. To play the main riff, you will need to know the following power chords: F5, A#5, G#5, and C#5. These chords are played on the lower strings of the guitar and require the use of your index finger, ring finger, and pinky finger.

The progression starts with an F5 power chord. This chord is formed by placing your index finger on the first fret of the low E string, your ring finger on the third fret of the A string, and your pinky finger on the third fret of the D string. Strum all three strings together to produce a full and powerful sound.

Next, move to the A#5 power chord. This chord is played by moving your whole hand up two frets. Place your index finger on the third fret of the low E string, your ring finger on the fifth fret of the A string, and your pinky finger on the fifth fret of the D string. Strum the same three strings to play the A#5 power chord.

After the A#5, move to the G#5 power chord. This chord is played by moving your hand down two frets from the A#5 position. Place your index finger on the first fret of the low E string, your ring finger on the third fret of the A string, and your pinky finger on the third fret of the D string. Strum the same three strings to play the G#5 power chord.

The final chord in the progression is the C#5 power chord. This chord is played by moving your hand up two frets from the G#5 position. Place your index finger on the fourth fret of the low E string, your ring finger on the sixth fret of the A string, and your pinky finger on the sixth fret of the D string. Strum the same three strings to play the C#5 power chord.

To capture the essence of the song, pay close attention to the strumming pattern. The main riff is played with a specific strumming pattern that includes 16th notes and dead notes. Emphasize the downbeats with a firm strum and use light touches for the dead notes to create a punchy and dynamic sound.

Here’s a visualization of the main riff chord progression:

Chord Fret String
F5 1 Low E, A, D
A#5 3 Low E, A, D
G#5 1 Low E, A, D
C#5 4 Low E, A, D

Practice Tips:

  • Start by practicing each power chord individually, making sure you have a clean and clear sound.
  • Once you feel comfortable with the chords, practice transitioning smoothly between them.
  • Focus on the rhythm and timing of the strumming pattern, paying attention to the dead notes.
  • Use a metronome to practice playing in time and gradually increase the tempo as you progress.
  • Record yourself playing the main riff to identify any areas that need improvement and make adjustments accordingly.

“The main riff of Smells Like Teen Spirit is one of the most recognizable guitar parts in rock music. By mastering the power chords and strumming pattern, you’ll be playing along to this iconic song in no time.” – Guitarist Magazine

Verse/Pre-Chorus Riff

nirvana guitar riff

The verse and pre-chorus sections of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” showcase a distinct guitar riff that adds depth to the song. This riff, played using power chords, creates a melodic progression that beautifully complements the lyrics. It follows a similar strumming pattern as the main riff, allowing for a seamless transition between sections.

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In this section, you’ll be playing the following power chords: F5, A#5, and G#5. These chords, when combined with the strumming pattern, create the iconic sound that is synonymous with Nirvana’s signature style.

To capture the true essence of this riff, pay close attention to the timing and dynamics. Focus on playing the notes with precision while maintaining the right level of intensity. This will help you recreate the verse and pre-chorus sections with the energy and emotion that Kurt Cobain intended.

“The verse/pre-chorus riff in ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is so catchy and immediately recognizable. It’s one of those guitar parts that just sticks with you. It perfectly captures the grunge spirit of the song.” – Dave Grohl

Post Chorus Riff

teen spirit post-chorus

After the powerful chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the song takes us into its intense post-chorus section. This section features a unique and captivating guitar riff that adds an extra layer of intensity to the song. Played with power chords, the post-chorus riff includes the chords F5, E5, F#5, A#5, and G#5, creating a melodic progression that transitions seamlessly between sections.

To truly capture the essence of the post-chorus riff, it is important to pay attention to the dynamic shifts and transitions. The riff serves as a bridge and builds anticipation for the next section, making it a crucial part of the song’s overall structure. Practice the riff slowly, focusing on precision and timing, before gradually increasing the tempo to match the energy of the song.

By mastering the post-chorus riff in “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” you will not only enhance your guitar skills, but also gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate composition of Nirvana’s music. Let the intensity of the riff propel you forward as you navigate the song and create an electrifying performance.

Intro

kurt cobain guitar setup

The song starts with a distinctive intro played on guitar. The chords used in the intro are F5, A#5, and G#5. It is played with a clean tone and follows the same strumming pattern as the main riff. The intro sets the mood for the song and introduces the iconic guitar sound of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

If you want to capture the essence of Kurt Cobain’s guitar setup, mastering the intro chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit is essential. These chords create the foundation of the song and set the stage for the powerful grunge anthem that follows.

Chord Finger Position
F5 1st fret, index finger on the low E string and the A string, skipping the D string
A#5 3rd fret, index finger barring the low E string, A string, and D string together with the ring finger on the G string
G#5 1st fret, index finger barring the low E string, A string, and D string together with the ring finger on the G string

Practice transitioning between these chords smoothly and strumming them with precision. Pay attention to your finger placement and the tone of each chord. By mastering the intro, you’ll be able to capture the essence of Smells Like Teen Spirit and showcase Kurt Cobain’s signature guitar sound.

“The intro to Smells Like Teen Spirit is one of the most recognizable guitar parts in rock history. I often get asked about my guitar setup and the chords used in the intro. It’s all about the raw power of those three chords and the way they’re strummed that creates that iconic sound.” – Kurt Cobain

Solo

kurt cobain guitar solo

While Smells Like Teen Spirit is not known for its intricate guitar solo, there is a bridge section where Kurt Cobain showcases his melodic skills. The solo acts as an extension of the song’s melody, adding expression through bends and vibratos. To capture Cobain’s unique style, use the F minor pentatonic scale and focus on the feel rather than technicality.

In this image, Kurt Cobain is playing a guitar solo during a live performance. The solo in Smells Like Teen Spirit may be relatively simple, but Cobain’s unique playing style and emotive bends and vibratos make it memorable.

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Tuning And Tempo

Playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” requires the correct guitar tuning and a firm grasp of the song’s tempo. By understanding these elements, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this iconic grunge anthem.

Guitar Tuning: The song is played in standard tuning (E A D G B E), which means each string is tuned to its conventional pitch. Ensure that your guitar is properly tuned to achieve the correct sound and maintain accurate chord formations.

Song Tempo: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has a tempo of 117 BPM (beats per minute). While initially the song may seem fast, don’t be discouraged. Once you become familiar with the main riff, playing the entire song will become more manageable. To improve your timing and keep the rhythm steady, practice with a metronome. Start slowly and gradually increase the tempo as you gain confidence and proficiency.

Now that you understand the importance of guitar tuning and tempo, you are ready to delve deeper into mastering “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Let’s explore the different sections, guitar chords, and strumming patterns that make this song so distinctive and memorable.

Guitar Chords

If you’re looking to master “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on guitar, you’ll need to get comfortable with power chords. These three-string chords provide the foundation for the song’s signature sound and are relatively easy to learn. Power chords are played using the lowest three strings of the guitar, giving them a powerful and distorted sound.

The main chords used in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are F5, A#5, G#5, and C#5. These chords are played in various combinations throughout the song to create its iconic riffs and progressions. To start, focus on practicing the power chord shapes for these chords. Once you’re comfortable with the finger positions, you can begin to add in the specific strumming pattern and transitions between chords.

Remember to take it slow and give yourself time to build muscle memory. With practice, you’ll be able to play the guitar chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” confidently and capture the rebellious spirit of grunge music.

Main Strumming Pattern

The strumming pattern in Smells Like Teen Spirit can be initially challenging due to the presence of 16th notes and dead notes. However, you can break it down into smaller sections to make it easier to learn. Start by focusing on strumming down on the downbeats of each measure.

Once you feel comfortable with this, begin incorporating the upstrokes into your strumming pattern. This will help you develop the rhythmic feel of the song. Remember to maintain a consistent tempo throughout.

In addition to the down and upstrokes, the song also incorporates dead notes, which are played by lightly touching the strings with the fretting hand without fully depressing them. This technique adds a percussive element to the strumming pattern.

Strumming Pattern Count
Down 1
Up 2
Down +
Down +
Up 2
Down +
Up 2
Down +
Down +
Up 2

It’s important to practice the strumming pattern slowly and gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable. Using a metronome can help you maintain a steady rhythm and improve your timing.

Conclusion

Smells Like Teen Spirit remains one of the most iconic guitar songs of all time. Its simple yet powerful guitar work showcases the essence of grunge with power chords, slides, vibrato, and bends. Learning to play this song not only teaches you the specific techniques used by Kurt Cobain but also immerses you in the spirit of the grunge era.

From the unmistakable opening riff to the energetic solo, playing Smells Like Teen Spirit allows you to tap into the raw emotion and rebellious attitude that defined the grunge movement. The combination of power chords, alternate picking, and dynamic shifts creates a captivating listening experience and solidifies the song’s place in rock history.

By mastering Smells Like Teen Spirit, you gain not only a valuable addition to your guitar repertoire but also a deeper understanding of the iconic sound that Nirvana introduced to the world. So grab your instrument, crank up the amp, and embrace the grunge guitar techniques that made this song a timeless classic.

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FAQ

How do I play Smells Like Teen Spirit on guitar?

To play Smells Like Teen Spirit on guitar, you need to learn the main riff, verse/pre-chorus riff, post-chorus riff, intro, and solo. It is played in standard tuning with power chords and a specific strumming pattern. Practice the chord progressions, timing, and dynamics to master the song.

What are the chords for the main riff in Smells Like Teen Spirit?

The main riff in Smells Like Teen Spirit is played with power chords. The chords used are F5, A#5, G#5, and C#5. These power chords are played with a particular strumming pattern to achieve the distinct sound of the song. Practice transitioning between these chords and perfecting the strumming pattern to play the main riff accurately.

What is the guitar riff in the verse/pre-chorus of Smells Like Teen Spirit?

The verse/pre-chorus section of Smells Like Teen Spirit has its own guitar riff. It is played using power chords, specifically F5, A#5, and G#5. The strumming pattern is similar to the main riff. Pay attention to the timing and dynamics to capture the feel of the song in this section.

How do I play the post-chorus section in Smells Like Teen Spirit?

The post-chorus section in Smells Like Teen Spirit has its own guitar riff. It is played with power chords, including F5, E5, F#5, A#5, and G#5. This riff adds intensity to the song and serves as a transition between sections. Practice the transitions and dynamics to nail this part.

What are the chords for the intro of Smells Like Teen Spirit?

The intro of Smells Like Teen Spirit is played with the chords F5, A#5, and G#5. The intro has a clean tone and follows the same strumming pattern as the main riff. It sets the mood for the song and introduces the iconic guitar sound of Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Is there a guitar solo in Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Smells Like Teen Spirit doesn’t have a complex guitar solo, but there is a bridge section where Kurt Cobain plays an extended melodic line. The solo is more of an extension of the melody, with bends and vibratos adding expression. Use the F minor pentatonic scale and focus on the feel rather than technicality to capture Cobain’s style.

What tuning and tempo is Smells Like Teen Spirit played in?

Smells Like Teen Spirit is played in standard tuning (E A D G B E) and has a tempo of 117 BPM. The song might seem fast at first, but once you get the main riff down, you’ll be able to play the entire song. Make sure your guitar is properly tuned and use a metronome to practice playing in time.

What are the guitar chords used in Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Smells Like Teen Spirit primarily uses power chords. The main chords used in the song are F5, A#5, G#5, and C#5. These three-string chords are played with the lowest three strings and are easy to learn. Start by practicing the power chord shapes and gradually add in the strumming pattern and transitions between chords.

What is the strumming pattern in Smells Like Teen Spirit?

The strumming pattern in Smells Like Teen Spirit might seem challenging at first due to the 16th notes and dead notes. However, breaking it down into smaller sections makes it easier to learn. Start by strumming down on the downbeats and gradually add in the upstrokes and dead notes. Practice with a metronome to improve your timing.

Why is Smells Like Teen Spirit considered an iconic guitar song?

Smells Like Teen Spirit remains one of the most iconic guitar songs of all time. Its simple yet powerful guitar work showcases the essence of grunge with power chords, slides, vibrato, and bends. Learning to play this song not only teaches you the specific techniques used by Kurt Cobain but also immerses you in the spirit of the grunge era.

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