Mr. Brightside Guitar Lesson – The Killers

When "Mr. Brightside" was released off of The Killer's debut album "Hot Fuss", it went on to become the bands biggest hit and helped them achieve international success.

The success of "Mr. Brightside" is in large part due to guitarist Dave Keuning's highly inventive and melodic guitar work. In this Mr. Brightside guitar lesson video, I will show you how he plays all of those signature guitar riffs note-for-note.

Be sure to tune your guitar down a half step to Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb in order to follow along with this lesson and the original recording.

The opening guitar riff is instantly recognizable to any modern rock fan and quite challenging to play. Keuning uses some highly unorthodox chords very high up on the fretboard while playing a challenging arpeggio pattern across each chord. Besides the chord work, the key to getting this type of picking comfortable is to always pick in the direction of the next string that you will be picking. That will insure that your playing is as economical as possible.

You will also notice during this opening riff, which also acts as the verse of the song, that there is a quick open D string played between the chord changes. That open string is a clever technique that Keuning uses to facilitate the smooth chord changes. While picking that open D string you should be preparing the left hand for the next chord shape. Your ring and little finger should stay planted at all times.

The pre-chorus is also very challenging using a repetitive arpeggio picked pattern along with some chords requiring a very large stretch. This is also a very unorthodox way of playing these chords, but it is necessary in order to have the open high E string and E on the 5th fret of the B string ring together.

The chorus starts out rather simple by playing double-stops with a constant up/down arpeggio sequence. However, the second half of the chorus can be difficult to get up to speed due to the quick shifts involved. Once again here though, guitarist Dave Keuning uses an open string to enable him to quickly shift up without creating a break in the sound.

During the short guitar breakdown you will be playing a little variation of the chorus riff. The melody line moves around a bit faster here but it makes for a very exciting guitar part.

Other than that we will close the song out with 3 quick chords. These chord shapes will be familiar to you since they are also used during to chorus.

"Mr. Brightside" is not only a fantastic song full of energy and melody, it is also a very challenging and brilliantly original song for guitar players to learn. I highly recommend it. 🙂


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Mr. Brightside Guitar Lesson - The Killers


  1. Paul Bentley on December 11, 2023 at 7:16 am

    Hi Carl, I thought I’d share with you and any other future students that I found it a lot easier to play from the 10th fret, using the high E string for the open note then the 12th fret and then the 10th.

    You may have already worked on this and decided you preferred that position for the tone of the strings but I don’t think there’s much difference, and who’d notice in the ‘white hot’ maelstrom of a ferocious high energy gig? 😎

    • Carl Brown on December 20, 2023 at 8:01 am

      I have to demonstrate the songs I teach in the exact same way the original artist performed it or else I would be crucified on YouTube. Feel free to play it however you wish. 🙂

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