Learn to play My Iron Lung on guitar from Radiohead's classic album The Bends

(Image credit: Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

We’re focusing on Jonny Greenwood’s parts in this classic 1994 Radiohead track that is also one of the greatest guitar tones of the '90s. 

Get the tone

Guitar-wise any bridge pickup will do, although Jonny likely used his Fender US Telecaster Plus V1, which has a humbucker in the bridge, but I’m using a single coil in the lesson. 

To get that classic sound in the intro you’ll need a DigiTech Whammy pedal set to an Octave up (in toe position) on the harmony side of the pedal. It's just played with a clean tone (don’t make it too sparkly, less treble is better here) and it’s just a wonderful use of that pedal. 

You’ll also need an overdrive or distortion pedal to get those crunchy tones later on, but the notes need to be fairly clear, so I’ve gone for a cranked overdrive. He possibly used the Marshall Shredmaster for this one which is a pretty high-gain pedal, but basically anything with decent bite and you’ll be fine! 


This is a slightly unusual tuning; almost open G tuning if it wasn’t for the low E, but you’ll need to detune 2 strings, as below:

E stays the same

A down to G

D stays the same

G stays the same

B stays the same

E down to D


Technique tips

The intro is straightforward enough in this tuning; just arpeggiation and some pull-offs/bends. 

When you get to the Verse there’s a fill that really benefits from the high E tuned down to D, which should give you a more authentic sound. 

For the latter parts you just need to ensure you’re muting the strings you’re not playing so you can really dig in. Watch out for the 2½ step bend towards the end of the solo and have fun! 

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Matt Webster

Matt spends his spare time teaching guitar lessons and creating gear demos on his YouTube channel Let's Play All, which covers all manner of styles, but he does have a special place in his heart for '90s grunge and alt rock.