Weekend riff: Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Learn how to play the guitar riff that broke Nirvana into the big time

Just four chords make up this classic grunge riff and all four are essentially the same shape. Changes are made easier by a run of muted notes every time you move to a new chord, meaning you don't have to hold down the strings right up to the last moment. Kurt's riff isn't too much of a workout for the fret hand, then.

Things are a bit tougher for the pick hand. 'Teen Spirit' follows a 16th note rhythm pattern - that's four pick strokes per beat - so you'll need a steady picking motion to generate the driving rhythm. Practise slowly to begin with but change to a medium tempo when you're ready to try and nail the 'feel'.

Click here to download the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' preset for the Peavey Vypyr VIP-2

'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
© 1991 Nirvana

Tutor: Steve Allsworth
Videographer: Martin Holmes

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