System Of A Down is considered to be one of the most unpredictable bands of the past 20 years because of their abrupt musical shifts and hectic arrangements.
Their signature track "Chop Suey!" took this concept to a whole new level when it was released on their album Toxicity in 2001.
In this Chop Suey! guitar lesson I will teach you how to play every riff in this hard rock gem, including the little guitar overdubs flying around all over the place.
Guitarist Daron Malakian employs everything from fast strumming to muted arpeggio riffs, alternate picked power chord riffs and more to give "Chop Suey!" the frantic energy that is heard throughout most of the track.
First off, as I explain in the video lesson, the tuning that "Chop Suey!" is in is dropped C. The song doesn't really sound right without that tuning. Low to high the guitar strings will be tuned C G C F A D.
The opening of the song contains a rapid strummed acoustic guitar part with a couple of guitar overdubs. At the beginning of the lesson video I perform all of those riffs one after the other but you will need another guitar player or two to help you if you want the song to sound like the record.
From there we get to the fast main riff consisting of alternate picking with constantly moving power chords. This riff takes a lot of synchronization between the picking and fretting hands, so you may want to take your time get it up to speed so it won't sound sloppy.
The verse of "Chop Suey!" contains a lot of start and stop rhythms. It can be quite unorthodox to play in the beginning. But, if you are very familiar with how the song sounds (which of course you should be), it won't take long to get into the groove of the verse riffs. There is actually a very simple rhythm pattern being played in the verse. After you understand that pattern it should come pretty to you.
The chorus contains a cool muted arpeggio riff along with the same overdub we played in the intro of the song. Even though the chorus is a lot more laid back than the verse, make sure you don't get lazy with the rhythmic groove of that section. It is pretty simple to play but can be a bit deceptive if you don't pay attention to what you are doing.
At the end of the song there is a different version of the chorus that consists of big sustained power chords. This last chorus is by far the easiest part of the song to play. If you make it to that point in the song successfully, I guess you can just sit back and enjoy the ride after a job well done. 🙂
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