Mean Street Guitar Lesson – Van Halen

In this Mean Street guitar lesson video, I will show you how to play this early Van Halen classic note-for-note.

The tuning is Eb tuning. That is, starting from the 6th string, Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb.

The intro to "Mean Street" is one of Eddie's finest moments. He recreates a slap bass effect at the beginning with a combination of muted slaps with the fretting hand, along with a tapped double-stop and slap harmonic that is slapped with the knuckle of the right hand thumb. It sounds crazy, but there is a pattern to what he is playing there, and I will demonstrate that pattern in detail.

After that, Eddie launches into a series of tapped harmonics and legato riffs. Here again, we have the same thing repeated 3 times, so if you can see the patterns, it makes it much easier to memorize. This intro is extremely challenging so good luck!

After the intro, we can finally take a breath and play some really cool guitar riffs. All the riffs here have a great groove to them with some occasional fills thrown in there as well. I will cover all the riffs and fills in the order that each appears on the original recording.

Eddie's solo is of course amazing and incredibly awkward to play at certain parts. I will go through each phrase of the solo in-depth.

There is also a short outro solo that I will cover as well. One of the coolest parts of this outro solo is the riff that it is played over. This riff uses a very unusual muting technique to create sustained chords over a rhythmic ostinato. Very cool sounding when you can put it all together!

All-in-all, "Mean Street" is just swimming in highly creative yet unorthodox guitar techniques that can take a while to get under your fingers. But any effort you put into it will be well rewarded! So hang tight and dive right into this monster!


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Mean Street Guitar Lesson - Van Halen


  1. Noah Graham on April 1, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Hey Great lessons! Could you do some more David Lee Roth Van Halen? That’s my favorite🎸

  2. Jason Cunningham on October 17, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Mind blown. You are the man. God bless you and EVH! Thank you Carl!

  3. Keith Halwig on January 11, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Carl thank you so much for that. I’m still not up to full speed but looking forward to getting there–it will be a great deal of fun. Van Halen was my favorite band in High School! RIP EVH

    Aside: you were of course right about the statement you once made to me: stick with it [learning guitar] it will pay you back 100 times over! 🙂

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