In this note-for-note Lithium guitar lesson, I will show you how to play this Nirvana hit in it's entirety.
First off, you will need to tune your guitar a whole step down from standard tuning in order to follow along with the video lesson and the original recording. The exact notes of the strings will be lowest pitch to highest, D G C F A D.
The entire song is made up of 3 distinct riffs. The first riff that opens the song will probably be the most challenging to a majority of players.
This riff really needs to be played well rhythmically and the groove is very important. The single note portion of the riff may be a little cumbersome for the beginning player. It may feel like the notes are jumping around all over the place. Keep it nice and slow if this is the case for you. Practicing it slow will help you develop the muscle memory and accuracy required to play it up to speed.
From there we have the full band entering and kick in the distortion. The huge distortion and the low tuning really gives this riff a massive sound.
Nothing too challenging to play here though. It is just simple power chords throughout.
The final riff we will be learning to finish off all the guitar parts of this Nirvana classic also consists entirely of power chords.
One side note, the way that Kurt Cobain played power chords based off of the 5th string is by barring his ring finger across strings 2-4. The result of this is that at times he will hit the 2nd string when strumming and cause a full major chord to sound. It is something that happens in many of his songs and you should be aware that it also happens in Lithium.
Feel free to add it in when you want, just like Kurt did. 🙂 Enjoy!
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Lithium Guitar Lesson - Nirvana