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Calling all guitar heroes: I know I'm going to regret this, but I just printed out the tabs for the intro to Smoke on the Water. I figure DJ can play that easily. He's getting really good with the guitar and his lessons are going great. But he's constantly looking for tabs to "real rock" songs that he can practice. His only stipulation is that it can't be anything with a slide because his arms are just too little to get the slide down right. I f you can suggest any songs that an eleven year old novice rock god (and quick, dedicated learner) should learn so he can impress the girls (well, his aunts), it would might kind of you.


"Ya Really Got Me" by The Kinks is pretty easy. Need chords?

Smells Like Teen Spirit, and many Nirvana songs for that matter are fairly simple, though I'm not sure if Nirvana impresses 11-year-olds these days. I guess if Deep Purple has a chance...maybe Nirvana does.

If he can play power chords, he can pretty much play every Green Day song ever written.

http://olga.net - a great place to find tabs...

He started on Green Day already and he likes Nirvana, so we'll try that.

Or, as he corrects me all the time: He thinks the guys in Nirvana are/were talented but Kurt Cobain's voice sucks.

Can't argue with that.

Smoke on the Water? Something tells me you're going to regret that many times in the coming months.

Ask my mother. Heh.

In my experience many of the tabs you can find on the web are wrong, but they can definately get you in the ballpark. If he is serious about playing, tell him to start practicing scales now (Pentatonic being a great one to start with) and not just focus on the chords.

Once he has the pentatonic scale down, there are a great many songs which can more easily be mastered. Many of Claptons, Hendrix, Iommi and Angus Young songs are built around this scale.

It is hard work, but worth it in the long run.

A couple of good resources I use are:


As for attracting the girls, tell him to get a job! (jk) Hope this is helpful.

Tell DJ to be sure to pick the riff instead of chords...with a lotta distortion it sounds great.

Other choices...ZZ Top, tons of stuff there, Black Crows (Hard to Handle maybe)?, Van Halen (actually a very good cover of You Really Got Me), this will sound funny (it will impress aunts), but Jessie's Girl - very fun guitar work in that one.

DG - thanks for the links and advice.

Oh, he's eleven. Not quite in the job hunting stage yet :)

Dave - nothing with distortion sounds great when it's played in my living room. Thank jeebus for headphones.

My advice would be to avoid tab all together and get him some lessons with a good teacher who will teach him proper technique and to read standard notation. It's less cool, but it will serve him better in the long run.

I second Farmer Joe's sentiment.... knowing HOW to play the instrument is FAR more valuable than memorizing a few tabs. Oh, and practice, practice, practice.

Take it from a failed musician-wannabe.

He does have a good teacher who teaches him notations and all. He has lessons once a week.

The tabs are strictly for his own amusement.

Go with the Ramones. That way he doesn't have to deal with all that "scales" crap. Assuming he has the Long Island nasal twang he could probably sound like Joey. Also it turns out that Johnny Ramone is a republican. It's a perfect fit.

Try OLGA at http://www.harmony-central.com/Guitar/tab.html

also has links to other tab sites.

A song to impress the girls....


YOU know what song I'm going to recommend
I know you're going to want to rip my 'nads off, so why don't we just pretend I said it and you can pretend you're tacking my yarbles to the wall.

You were NOT going to say Sister Christian, were you?

If he can read music, all the classic rock guys have sheet music out.

One of my buddies, who had been taught piano as a child, learned to play guitar with a friend showing him a few chords and relentless practice from his Grateful Dead song books. Of course the same guy believed that one only needs to listen to the Dead for 6 to 8 hours a day to achieve happiness so you may not want to go that route.

well, I'll grant you distortion is an an acquired taste....

"few chords and relentless practice from his Grateful Dead song books. Of course the same guy believed that one only needs to listen to the Dead for 6 to 8 hours a day to achieve happiness so you may not want to go that route."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Grateful Dead! You'll scar him for life! He'll stop bathing and get dreadlocks and follow Widespread Panic around in a leased Saab and never get a job. No, no, no, no, no, NO!!

I'm sorry, this is where I must intervene. Teach that kid Grateful Dead and I'm calling DFACS. I mean it.


"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Grateful Dead! You'll scar him for life! He'll stop bathing and get dreadlocks and follow Widespread Panic around in a leased Saab and never get a job. No, no, no, no, no, NO!!"

LOL....you described a different old friend to a tee.

That said, "Boys Don't Cry" by the Cure is an excellent beginning guitar album.


Just to be contrary, very few people who play sight-read guitar (I'm not against it, see below). It's a major pain, and really not often necessary unless you want to be a studio guy. Instead, players memorize chord shapes and use the root note to know what the chord is. Scales, you know the root note and count from there, so you need to know scales as far as when to take a whole step and when to take a half step, and not necesssarily the name of each note. Anyway, that's what Vic Trigger taught me in one of those one-day seminars many moons ago. Doing those two things, memorizing chord shapes and doing scales through counting (and shape as well), leverages how the guitar is layed out.

Sorry, I don't have an online source for this stuff. I learned all of it before the web even existed.

However, since your son is getting both the classical way and a way that will enable him to play songs quickly, it's all good. Often those learning an instrument get frustrated because they spend a lot of time learning stuff that doesn't get them playing the songs they want to play.

As I said, I am not against sight-reading guitar. I frankly no longer have the patience to learn it. I wish I had started that young when I had fewer distractions. It often makes you a better musician, and always increases your worth to a band.

Yeah, I know, I went far afield on this one, and yes, I know I need to get my own blog. Sorry you asked yet?

David, I'm not sorry at all. I find all of this information very interesting - plus it will help when he wants to talk to me about his guitar lessons and I have no clue what he's talking about. I can pretend I know something now!

He also plays by ear - listening to a song and then trying to recreate it himself. He's pretty good at that, but I don't think he's learning anything that way.

What, nobody here has mentioned Black Sabbath yet? What's wrong with you people?!?

"Boys are Back In Town", Thin Lizzie.

Simple chords, mostly power chords, but lots of 6ths and 7ths thrown in for variation. If he's already learning scales, the song will help him learn structure.

Won't impress the guys..."Ventura Highway", America. Sounds really flash, simple as falling off a log.

Shoot David,thought you were gonna whip out the Nashville numbering systems on us! Whew!

Hey Michele, most juke-box heroes learn a ton by listening and playing, you stretch yourself cause you want to do some new thing. As long as he stays at it and has fun, he can't go wrong.

Unless he starts hanging out with the reprobates in my band. Then you put your foot down.

Well, Louie Louie and Wild Thing are both basically the same song. G-C-D or a variation thereof. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the opening riff to "Iron Man" and no guitarist is complete without learning the arpeggio stylings of "house of the rising sun" that begins with Am.

As for a cool song for the girls, "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison is really easy on the chords (although the opening riff is a little tricky).

Beyond that, I'd suggest he learn some blues turnarounds. I'm always amazed at how many songs are basically a I-IV-V progression.

And the idea of buying songbooks for the tabs is also a good one.

pretty much whatever he wants to show off to a girl would probably impress one (guitar-wise)- unless she plays, too...

but hey check this place out- www.wholenote.com

it's all just crazy guitar players asking and answering questions, trading riffs and all that kind guitary stuff.

Aren't girls more impressed by synchronized dance moves? Most girls his age have horrible taste in music, unless they're punk/goth chicks.

Old Metallica -- try to find the tablature books for Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, And Justice for All, and Kill 'em All.

The songs are good, there's a variety of styles and techniques involved, and there's something for every skill level.

"Fresh Air" by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Gloria by Van Morrison - but you'll hunt me down and kill me for the suggestion after he plays it a couple thousand times...

As Mike said, OLGA has tons of stuff.

Michelle, I'm glad you've got your son a teacher and he's learned real rock songs. Smoke on the Water is a good start. I'd say about any Black Sabbath songs have easy enough riffs, and "Sunshine of Your Love" is easy enough. If he's good enough at chords have him learn Hotel California. Good luck to him.

On sight-reading -- there is an old joke:

Q: "What's the best way to make a guitar player turn down?"

A: "Put a chart in front of him."

Aside from all that; a very wise guitarist told me in 1978 that if I did nothing else with my lead work, a thorough working knowledge of the pentatonic scale would see me through every rock song ever written or that would ever be written. He was right. Many guitar players go far beyond that, but there are at least as many who never have, and you own their records.

I can't recall whether the first rock song I ever learned was Creedence's take on "Suzie-Q" or Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour", but it was one of the two: I figured them both out on the same day. I was twelve years old, and I did it by ear. That can be an extremely effective way to learn, not least because experimenting with sounds like that reinforces the confidence necessary to stepping out on one's own style.

At the same time: I remember the day that same summer when my father sat me down to begin teaching me formally. He asked whether I could hold a barre chord, and I just grabbed one, clean as a whistle, just like that. He was impressed. Then, he asked me what I was holding.

I didn't have the most random clue. I guessed an F, but it was a G. That told him something about what he had to teach me.

Set the theoretical roots early. I can't tell you how many guitarists I've run into who could get around a neck fairly well, but were completely crippled when it came to communicating in an ensemble context. You can't be in a band if you can't communicate concepts.

Didja know that "Smoke On The Water" is a groove? It's really too bad that it got beaten to cliche death the way it did, because it's a great, great rock song. What I've found is that this realization is nearly exclusive to people who have tried to play it in a band that has what it takes to find the groove rather than just pose all over it.

And "pick[ing] the riff" doesn't cut it. It needs that whole root/fifth/octave triad to really work.

God bless you, Michele. As ZZ Top once admonished, "Let that boy boogie." He's on his way to something beneficial far beyond what meets the eye or ears, not least of which is his own personal proof of the value of a work ethic. If he keeps at it, he can develop a feedback-loop of hard work coming back around to him as something uniquely and extremely satisfying. It won't take long for him to figure this out if he gains a foothold, and the working example of applied discipline will always serve him well.

I've been playing for thirty-five years now, and, for me at least, there ain't no life without guitars. I feel sorry for people who never did it.

Michele, you said: "He also plays by ear - listening to a song and then trying to recreate it himself. He's pretty good at that, but I don't think he's learning anything that way."

He's absolutely learning that way. He is (or should be) learning to recognize chord changes and progressions by their sound. He's gaining skills that will stand him in good stead when playing, particularly jamming, with others. If he's playing along with recorded music, it can help his timing almost as much as a metronome (depending on what/whom he's playing along with).

Cheryl Wheeler (no relation that I'm aware of) has a song called "Music in My Room," in which she describes learning to play guitar by playing along with records. Steve Martin (among others) learned to play banjo by slowing down records so he could hear the individual notes being played. I don't know about rock, but in folk/bluegrass, you can buy CDs and videos where the musicians on the recording "lay back" to let you play a solo during one verse of each song.

Having said all that, a guitar site I've been looking at is http://www.guitarnoise.com/


E(half note then rest a half note)
A(quarter note)
A(quarter note then rest a half note)
B(half note then rest a half note)

...over and over, as needed to accompany the chorus of "Pour Some Sugar on Me".

It may be a bit simple for DJ, but its a lot of fun.

I didn't know what the nashville numbering system was, so I looked it up. Turns out to just be a name for a system I already used.

Rather than blather on about it, I refer you to this site:Cyberfret

Just looking at the site, there is a lot of information available that you used to end up paying for. However, I didn't go that deep into the site, so I can't say how complete it is.

David, I heard about it from a friend of mine (another bassist) who does session work in Nashville. It's just a way of charting chord relationships rather than fixed chords in case you run across a vocalist who needs to take it up or down a few notes.