We will now move over to the rhythm side of Slash's playing and look into how he achieves some of those classic Guns n' Roses sounds. We will learn a full rhythm track which brings together most of the key ideas, powerchords, key changing and rock rhythms! This is definitely one to have a lot of fun rocking out to!
The focus of this song is to be able to play through the entire track consistently for the full 4 to 5 minutes. A lot of people consider the rhythm side of guitar playing to be the 'easy' side, but it can be just as difficult as the intricate lead, just in a different way! So, your first task is to listen to the track. You don't need to listen to the whole 4 minutes now as it essentially just repeats, but do listen until you can sing along with it!
Let's start by learning the powerchord shapes we are using, and the order of the chords. The chords are A5, G5, F#5, D5 and a variation on G5. Not only do we use the classic powerchord E string shapes, we also use open chord powerchords, which can sound even more massive with distortion! Here are all the shapes:
Use the tab below to clarify how the chords move through the song. For the moment and we are not going to worry about the 'x' marks at the moment, we will cover that in the next lesson.
Let's now bring these powerchords to life with the rhythm pattern. The 'x' marks on the tab are where you mute the strings, and when you play this sounds with distortion you get a cool chunky rock effect! Firstly, here is the basic rhythm pattern:
So, on the 1st downwards arrow you play the A5, then on the 3rd arrow you play the 'x' sound, followed immediately by the A5 again. On the 5th arrow you do the 'x' sound again followed by the G5 and then F#5 on the very last arrow. Once you get to the D5/A chord you simply play it for half a bar, then G5 for half a bar.
We can now use the tab to take really slow down the groove and try to master it. We are once again .
Guns N' Roses were very good at randomly changing key to breath some new life into a riff that has repeated a lot. It's a great technique and something you can use in your own songwriting. The first riff was basically in the key of A, whilst we now move to the key of E. This transition works well because it moves through the circle of fifths. This simply means that E is a fifth above A and therefore is a comfortable key change for the ear. The chords are as follows:
The good news is that the rhythm is exactly the same as in the first half of the tab, so you simply apply that groove to these new chord shapes!
, and you should start by getting the chords nice and clear, then add the rhythm pattern shown in the last lesson.
We will now put the whole tune together, and the first step is running through the entire thing nice and slowly with a relatively clean sound. Once you can do that it's time to bring the rock! Rock stars tend to write relatively simple riffs like this so that they can perform them. This means gain up to 10, lots of slides, vibrato on chords and maybe even a pick-slide or two! In the video we show you how you can easily spice up this tune by adding these cool effects.
Time to put the whole thing together. Remember that the song loops around 8 times, so be sure to practice the whole of the way through.
When you are ready, the backing track and full solo are here to play along to. It is worth trying to play with just the backing track, as you will not be 'hiding' behind the recorded guitar part; it's all up to you to make it sound awesome!