Photograph Guitar Lesson – Def Leppard

Man I truly miss the 80's. There were so many great bands and just about all of them had a guitar virtuoso. It is that era that made me want to play guitar in the first place so it would make sense that some of those bands still resonate with me. Of all of them, I would say Def Leppard is my favorite.

In this Photograph guitar lesson video, I will show you how to play all of this Def Leppard classic note-for-note. "Photograph" is many Def Leppard fan's favorite song because of the driving guitar riffs, melodic soloing and unbelievable vocal harmonies.

In the first video lesson I will tackle all of the riffs and chords played by guitarists Steve Clark and Phil Collen. The opening riff is one of the most identifiable of the era so you will want to make sure to get it right! 🙂 There is actually a slight rhythm variation in this riff that differs between the intro and verse. I think a lot of guitar players that I see play "Photograph" miss this variation. In any case, I will show you how to easily play both versions of this riff.

The pre-chorus uses a lot of open power chords in a very tight AC/DC rhythm style. The chord changes happen fast and the rhythm has to be very precise.

The chorus has a very unique riff that requires special attention to a couple of different elements. First, you will want to make sure your fingers are properly arched so the open G string can always ring out. Second, you will need to slightly mute some of these arpeggiated notes in order for them to pop-out over the mix. It only requires a very very slight mute though.

In the second video lesson I will demonstrate both the main guitar solo and outro solo as played by Phil Collen. The main solo is full of some really nice melodic playing with a few flashy guitar licks thrown in for good measure. This is a great solo to analyze if you want to know how to write a great guitar solo. There is a definitive beginning, middle and end which makes for a very complete musical statement and not just a bunch of random guitar licks thrown together.

The outro solo is similar in that is contains mostly melodic content with a few fast licks. You will still need to make sure you get those bends in tune though!

So have fun learning this incredible song from the legendary Def Leppard!


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Photograph Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Chords/Riffs

Photograph Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Solos


  1. Thomas Goff on July 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Awesome lessons Carl. Your video lessons have gotten me to a much higher level of playing than i thought I would ever be at. Will you be doing anymore Def Leppard? I’d love to see Armageddon it.

  2. Stormin' on September 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    During that reverse blues lick in the solo, are you keeping your index finger planted across the high E and B string, 9th fret?

    • Carl Brown on September 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Can you give me the minute and second mark of the video so I don’t have to go through the whole thing? Thanks!

  3. Stormin' on September 28, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Video Part 2.
    Starts at 2:00 mark.

  4. Stormin' on October 2, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    how do feel about active pick-ups, like EMG, vs. an in-active pick-up?

    also, pick-ups that are set above the guitar body vs. ones that are set in the body.

    i don’t get the sound I like even though I have a nice Fender Deluxe tube amp and a Boss ME-25 effects pedal. good ESP guitar, too. wondering how much the pick-ups matter.

    • Carl Brown on October 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      I think it is the pickups that make the biggest difference of all.

      Do you know what type of pickups are in your ESP (ie. brand, model)? I personally don’t really like the active pickups for anything but metal. It really compresses the sound but it can get a great tight metal sound if you like that.

      As for pickup height, that varies as well. Pickups need to be set depending on how they react with the strings. A good tech would be able to do that easy.

      I recently replaced the single coils in my strat with humbuckers and it just sounds and feels so great now. HUGE difference!

  5. Stormin' on October 4, 2016 at 9:44 am

    My ESP has EMG-60 and EMG-81 pickups.

    I’ve heard debate about pickups that are set down in the body of the guitar versus those that are not dug in. I thought it had some effect on tone.

    I’ve always liked Seymour Duncan double coil pickups and I’m thinking about taking out the EMG from my ESP and putting in the SD in place.

    • Carl Brown on October 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Those EMG’s, especially the 81 are probably the most used active pickups ever made. So you definitely don’t have cheap pickups in your guitar.

      When it comes to how the pickups are set in the guitar, I wish I knew more. I have never been a guy that worked on his guitars. But a really good tech could tell you all about it.

      If you do get new pickups, make sure you find a really good tech to do the work. Maybe even call him beforehand to let him know what you are thinking of buying and he may have better pickup suggestions when you let him know what kind of tone you are looking for.

      That is what I did at least and I am very happy with the results. 🙂

  6. Stormin' on October 6, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Hey Carl, how do you determine which song lessons you post daily? I imagine you get flooded with requests. I have a couple in mind, but no big hurry – just curious how you handle the process.

    • Carl Brown on October 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Hey Norman, it is usually determined by how much interest I think it would have on YouTube.

      Also, some weeks I have more time and can do some music that is a bit more involved when the transcription process takes place. Also, longer videos take a lot more editing and rendering time.

      I usually try to find music that is heavily requested, that is going to be popular on YouTube, and that fits my work schedule for that week. 🙂

  7. Stormin' on October 19, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    O.K. So, subscribers, like me, do not put in requested songs or artists, right?

    • Carl Brown on October 20, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Sure you can. Subscriber requests are the first ones I consider. But the song would still need to be a good fit. Feel free to request all you want and I will let you know what I can and can’t do. 🙂

  8. Stormin' on October 20, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Well, I’m a big fan of Tesla, but I see no songs by them on the site. I think they have a good following and their songs are really guitar-driven. Seems they are not too complicated and sound very melodic. Nothing crazy-fast, either. If it’s ever feasible, would be nice to see them on there.
    I’m meeting the band at their show in St. Charles, IL February 1st and would like to let them know that I promoted them to your site 🙂

  9. Alexander Beardsmore on October 26, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Hi Carl – this is a great lesson, it took a while to get the finger roll up to speed but have it down now.

    I know you get a ton of song lesson requests – but would like to suggest Promises by Def Leppard. Its got a brilliant Phil Collen solo – love that guy’s leads!


  10. Alexander Beardsmore on October 29, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah its from their 1999 record Euphoria, one of the few newer songs they wrote with Mutt Lang, so sounds very like the Hysteria era

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