Basket Case Guitar Lesson – Green Day

In this lesson I am going to show you all of the chords to Green Day's smash hit "Basket Case".

Released in 1994, "Basket Case" topped the charts for 5 weeks and is recognized as one of the greatest punk rock songs of all time. In this Basket Case guitar lesson, you will learn how to play it all note-for-note.

You will need to tune your guitar down a half-step in order to play along with the original recording and this lesson. So starting from the 6th string that will be Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb.

Almost the entire song is comprised of simple power chords. So with one chord shape you are well on your way to playing the whole thing. The challenging part of playing "Basket Case" will definitely be in the picking hand. This picking style requires lots of very fast and dynamic palm muting with consistent downstrokes.

The main key to playing fast muted downstrokes in this style is to keep your picking hand wrist and forearm as relaxed as possible. Try to make all of the movement of the downstroke come from the wrist itself with very small and accurate downstrokes. Pick just far enough to get through the strings of the specific chord you are playing and no further when playing in this rhythmic style. Wasted motion means wasted time to recover for the next downstroke. Economy of motion and relaxation is the key!

I will demonstrate how the rhythm is pretty consistent with random accents thrown in. If you know the song well and have this technique mastered, you should be able to easily recreate the sound of the rhythms found throughout the song since they compliment the vocals quite well.

So have fun tackling this challenging song by Greed Day. It is a fantastic picking workout for just about any level of rock guitarist. Thanks!


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Basket Case Guitar Lesson - Green Day


  1. Jeff on March 18, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Why do I need to tune my guitar down if the whole song is power chords?

    • Paul Bentley on July 14, 2022 at 7:30 am

      You don’t have to if you don’t want to. Play it on the 12th fret if it tickles your fancy.

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