21 Guns Guitar Lesson – Green Day

In this complete song lesson we will take a look at Green Day's popular hit "21 Guns" in it's entirety.

I think this song proves how a band can continue to develop as song writers well into their career. This 21 Guns guitar lesson really shows how Green Day and guitarist/singer Billie Joe Armstrong can write some clever hooks into a simple rock format.

The first thing I will show you how to play is the atmospheric intro played with volume swells. The chord voicings here use only two notes played either a minor or major 10th apart. That is a chord voicing made popular by The Beatles great "Blackbird".

After that we will take a look at the chords for the acoustic verse. This shouldn't provide too much of a challenge if you are used to playing barre chords.

When the full band finally comes in at the chorus, we are on to a fully distorted electric guitar sound that uses mostly power chords. The rhythmic difference between the chords is the most important thing to focus on here. The chorus also contains all little lick that is used over the chords. I will demonstrate that as well.

There is also a bridge section that contains all power chords again, however, the rhythm changes quite a bit here from the chorus so make sure you know how the song should sound by listening to it quite a lot.

All we have left to learn then is the guitar solo. The solo actually moves around the fretboard quite a bit both vertically and horizontally. It is a very singable solo, as most Green Day solos are, but you will need to focus on the fingerings that I am using in order to comfortably play the entire thing.

So have fun learning this great Green Day song, it is certainly one of their best. 🙂


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21 Guns Guitar Lesson - Green Day


  1. Tommy Radcliffe on April 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks again Carl. Great session.

  2. Diesel Trowbridge on April 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    If you haven’t heard, over the weekend Green Day, SRV, Bill Withers, and Ringo Starr were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  3. dave jacinto on September 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Wow this is really cool. Loved it. Learned a lot from you Carl. Umm one Favor. Can you please do a tutorial of out of my limit by the Band 5 Seconds of Summer. Looking for Electric guitar tutorial there is nothing. Can you please do it Carl.
    Again love your tutorials keep up the good work carl.

  4. Jonas Ebner on March 11, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Great Lesson.
    Thanks Carl.
    Would be great if you could make a tutoorial for Whatsername too.
    It’s one of my favorite Green Day songs and i would like to learn to play it on guitar.

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