The Final Countdown Guitar Lesson – Europe

Released in 1986, "The Final Countdown" became an enormous international hit for the band Europe, reaching number one in 25 countries around the world.

In this The Final Countdown guitar lesson series, I will show you how to play all of guitarist John Norum's guitar parts note-for-note, including that killer guitar solo.

Obviously, most of "The Final Countdown" is dominated by that infectious keyboard melody with the guitar relegated to a backing role. There are some cool little riffs going on there though so make sure you check them out. All of the chords and riffs will be taught in the first video lesson.

In the second video lesson I will take you through John Norum's guitar solo note-for-note. There are some really great licks in this solo that can be turned into some nice technique exercises if you wish.

The fast arpeggios that open the solo requires smooth legato and sweep picking. Those two techniques combine to create a very fluid sound. I will show you exactly how to pick this section and the great thing is, once you get the first arpeggio down, the entire sequence is played the same way.

The rest of the solo includes fast alternate picking, whammy bar dips, unison and oblique bends and more. It really is a great 80's era guitar solo in that it contains lots of flashy guitar licks, but the entire solo can still pretty much be hummed throughout. Creating musically yet technically demanding solos was the challenge of many great guitarists back in the 80's shred era, the solo for "The Final Countdown" certainly doesn't disappoint!

Hope you guys enjoy this one! It is really fun to play once you get it all together.


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The Final Countdown Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Chords

The Final Countdown Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Solo


  1. Stormin' on December 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    What’s the best way to practice the opening phrase- those repeating arpeggios, to get up to speed?

    • Carl Brown on December 10, 2016 at 9:33 am

      I think the most important first step is to get the picking pattern correct. Once the pattern is mastered you then will want to assimilate the whole arpeggio lick into feeling like it is just one movement.

      The thing that slows many players down is that they feel they need to think about every single note. For a series of licks like the ones at the beginning of the solo, you will need to feel like one complete arpeggio is one full movement instead of many notes. It will then feel like you can effortlessly fly from arpeggio to arpeggio without thinking too much.

      I hope this makes sense to you. It basically is a different way of looking at large groups on notes and consolidating them into one sensation instead of a separate thought process for every note.

  2. Stormin' on December 8, 2016 at 10:41 am

    That’s the Pt.2 – Solo video.

  3. Stormin' on December 11, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    The feeling of one full movement makes total sense. Question is: how do I practice to get it to feel that way?
    The two-string sweep with the pick is giving me trouble. All I feel is “da da da-dum”, i.e. individual notes with the stress on the last two notes. I don’t think I’m getting the hammer-on done quick enough. I feel too long a pause waiting for that hammer-on to finish. I seem to feel better when I pick down, up, down, then pull-off (i.e. three picks instead of the two you show). Is it feasible to think I can eventually get this up to speed that way?

    • Carl Brown on December 12, 2016 at 8:51 am

      That way of doing the little 2-string sweep is how Yngwie would play it and that is what they are trying to recreate. It is actually easier to sweep it once you get the hang of it and it will also help create the sense of it being one motion.

      The easiest way to develop that sense of one motion while still remaining accurate is with speed bursts. I know it may seem like you hear this speed burst comment from me every time, but it really is the key to quickly getting difficult sections of music up to speed. Just focus on one arpeggio without moving around, simply repeat the very first one. Do it at a slow or moderate tempo keeping it extremely accurate for 3 times through then a quick and very relaxed speed burst version of it. You will need to actually try to feel the burst as just one motion. Repeat this process again and again without stopping. 3 slow then one burst.

      You will know it when you got it. The great thing is, after you can do this with the first arpeggio, all the others are played the same way.

      You will also get better at applying this concept to other licks as well. Just give it a little time to let your brain figure it out and everything will feel effortless soon. 🙂

  4. Stormin' on December 12, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    O.K. will do. I also researched some of the techniques you offer in the Free Lessons section for Intermediate. Things like Legato exercises and Breaking Your Speed Barrier. I found those last night. Those should help here, right? I think I may need to practice hammer-on speed. Any suggestions for that?

    • Carl Brown on December 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Yes those lessons will definitely help.

      I think the main thing you can practice to develop your hammer-ons and pull-offs are trills. The thing that slows most players down is that they feel they have to really hammer down with a lot of force.

      In reality, as long as you are coming straight down onto your fingertip, it only requires a very light touch to produce a hammer-on, especially on an electric guitar. What you want to focus of is the speed of you finger moving to the string instead of force onto the string. Also, having speed of movement allows your fingertips to stay closer to the strings because the speed is what creates the power, not the distance the finger has to travel to the string. The movement is generated by the big knuckle at the base of your finger. That joint provides the most power and speed and most importantly, fluidity that you will need to have excellent hammers-ons. The middle knuckle’s role is to create the proper arch in the finger for the fingertip to accurately come down onto the string.

      Does that make sense?


  5. Stormin' on December 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Makes sense. What makes me question technique is when I see this lick, elsewhere, suggested in a different picking pattern. I think it’s an edition of Guitar World magazine I have laying around that has this song transcribed and they have the first three notes picked with a pull-off for the last two notes; no hammer-on and pull-off. I know there is not just one right way to play it, but I wonder what makes each lesson show a different way. Which way is easier?

    • Carl Brown on December 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      The way you describe playing the lick is usually the way I would do it myself. However, the reason I pick it this way in the video is because it was how I hear the guy articulating it in the song.

      Just ending with a pull-off is easier I think because it is easier to time.

  6. Stormin' on December 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Yes, I feel staying in time better with just a pull-off at the end. I guess it’s feasible to believe it can be played up to speed either way, if that’s the way it’s practiced, including using speed bursts 🙂

  7. Tony Wilson on February 11, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Hey Carl,

    I know you are probably busy and get a zillion requests. One other great song these guys did that does not get enough cred is “Carrie” I would love to see tutorial with the keyboard part arranged on guitar.

    When every you can add it to your bucket list. LOL

    Great job as usual.



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