Just What I Needed Guitar Lesson – The Cars

As the debut single off of their self-titled debut album, "Just What I Needed" quickly launched The Cars career making them one of them most popular bands of the late seventies and eighties.

"Just What I Needed" is full of great guitar parts played by guitarist Elliot Easton. In this Just What I Needed guitar lesson, I will show you how to play all of them note-for-note!

The muted intro with aggressive chord stabs can be a bit tricky to time correctly if you don't know how to count it. However, if you follow the lesson I will show you a very simple way to easily understand the timing of this part.

We then quickly move into the verse which consists of mostly muted power chords and the occasional Chuck Berry style embellishment. There is nothing to overly difficult here except for some relatively large stretches.

The pre-chorus contains a couple quick suspended chords that help build the tension into the chorus. Remember though, the first verse and pre-chorus end with a short musical interlude that concludes with a cool descending guitar lick instead of going to the chorus. You will finally hit that chorus the second time around.

Speaking of the chorus, it is by far the easiest part of the song to play and easily the most recognizable guitar riff of the song. It uses simple power chords built entirely off the 5th string. Try to really feel the groove of this part and everything else should be a piece of cake.

On the other hand, Elliot Easton's guitar solo can be quite the challenge. It contains fast bends, a quick trill, slippery ascending slide licks, oblique bends and more. It moves around quite a bit.

Elliot Easton really figures out a way to throw in a bunch of cool licks in such a small time frame. But, because of this, you are going to have your work cut out for you in order to keep up.

As always with solos like this, I highly suggest learning it in sections or phrases like I teach it in the video lesson. This will help you digest all the parts and get them under your fingers before you put it all together. The different phrases come at you so fast there really isn't any other way to learn it.

So I hope you enjoy learning this intermediate level seventies classic from one of the best bands of that era, The Cars.


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Just What I Needed Guitar Lesson - The Cars


  1. Tommy Radcliffe on July 28, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Hey Carl:
    This was excellent! Elliot was so under-appreciated as a lead guitarist. You don’t often hear about how good and off the wall his unique bends, rolls, and hammer-ons were. You have it nailed, as usual. Thanks for the help. I have been playing “Just what I needed” since it came out, and was close, but never had it perfectly ‘note for note,’ as they say, until now. There were a few small bends, and a couple of notes that I’ve never had right. Thank you again. Also, as for a the Pink Floyd, Dark Side of The Moon “Reprise” ending solos that I asked you about on the Brain Damage reply a couple days ago, I have made a lot of headway with Gilmore’s tone and vibrato. The solos on all of them, “Breath, Brain Damage, and Eclipse are all so subtle and at times hard to even hear, but they aren’t that hard. Still, there is a few areas throughout the entire ending that I could still use help with. Even if you just played it through slowly once on video here, that would cover me. Anyway, Its been super tough making ends meat lately, but I hope to get you a donation soon. You deserve it. I’m trying to get through a rough surgery too.
    My spinal fusion operation was just last month. I had lost the feeling in my right hand and couldn’t even hold my pick. So, the procedure completely relieved the numbness and pain in my right hand. I am doing OK now, and can at least hold my pick and play again. Well, thanks again bro, I really dig the site and hope you are around for a while. Regards, Tommy Rad.

  2. Jason Cunningham on January 1, 2020 at 11:23 pm

    Awesome Carl! Thanks for this!!!

  3. Mike on March 6, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Hello! Love The Cars! I agree Elliot Easton is very underrated. Would love to see a “You Might Think” lesson some day! Thank you for making these lessons available to all. Take care!

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