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How to play Sweet Child O’ Mine on Guitar


How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine

Sweet Child O’ Mine is an 80s powerhouse of a rock song, so why not learn how to play it? Stick around as we take a look at each section of the song with clear tips and TABs.

Sweet Child O’ Mine: How to play

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Welcome to a new series here at Gearnews! We usually like to feature plenty of how-to and beginner-style pieces across our busy calendar. However, these guides never really go into much detail on specific songs.

Therefore, we’re going to take this opportunity to actually delve deep into how to play specific songs. This week, we’re looking at Sweet Child O’ Mine from Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite For Destruction.

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There are plenty of songs that we could have picked from this album, or indeed across rock history. Although, Sweet Child O’ Mine is a perfect all-rounder! Whether you’re new to playing or you’re ready for something harder.

Intro Riff

Naturally, we have to start with the opening bars of this track. This legendary riff was played by Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist, Slash. Before we start, we need to consider that this track was recorded in the Eb guitar tuning. Therefore you’ll either need to down-tune or search for a backing track in standard tuning.

  • How to play Sweet Child O' Mine
  • Intro Part 2

Inspiring guitarists for decades, this intro is powerful enough to get anyone’s heart racing. We’re up on the 12th fret of the D string with our first finger. The riff is very repetitive and just changes the starting note every other bar. Starting from D, moving to E, across to G and concluding at D before starting again.

Personally, I play the intro of Sweet Child O’ Mine with the index, middle and third fingers of my fretting hand. This allows for easy access across the required frets. If you’re more of a beginner, you’ll benefit from learning this riff to improve dexterity.

The riff repeats three times, and on the final run, you’ll see that the pattern changes. Also, make sure to use your neck pickup!

Easier Alternative Intro

When I first learnt this riff, I found it genuinely difficult to gather any speed or accuracy. Therefore, I restored to playing this version of the same riff.

Sweet Child O' Mine Easy Intro
How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine Alternative Intro

Understandably, it’s slightly different, although it’s just as recognisable. We’re working around an open D major chord, lifting and pressing various fingers to gain the sound we need.

Where this alternate version of the Sweet Child O’ Mine riff is easier on the fretting hand, the picking can be cause for extra practice.

Verse and Choruses of Sweet Child O’ Mine

Now that we’ve looked at how to play the intro in two different ways, let’s focus on the chord progressions.

Verse and Chorus
How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine Verse and Chorus

If you thought that the intro was repetitive, just wait until you try the verse! We’re playing eight beats, equivalent to two bars of 4/4 on each chord. Ideally, we want a D D U, U D U strumming pattern.

Whereas, when we get to the chorus, we’ll be playing one bar on A and C, followed by two bars of D which will then all repeat. By the time we get to the first guitar solo, you can either strum along with the verse chords or challenge yourself with the solo itself.

Solo 1

Although we’re calling it a solo, it’s more of an instrumental section really. This solo lasts approximately eight bars and accompanies the chords that we had in the verse.

Solo 1 Guns N' Roses
How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine Solo 1

Similar to the intro, we’re looking at using our third and first fingers to navigate the solo. Ideally, with your ring finger leading from the 14th fret, and your first sliding between the 12th and 11th frets.

This solo does come back again after the second verse and chorus but is slightly different.

Solo 2

Following on from the previous instrumental section, the second solo takes inspiration from the first and adds a little bit more spice. By spice, I mean slides and bends. Drizzled with extra techniques.

  • Solo
  • Gins N' Roses Solo

This solo is succeeded by a third chorus, before progressing to the main solo. I doubt that there’s enough web space to add that huge solo into this guide. Therefore, we’ll stick to looking at the chords that Izzy Stardin laid down beautifully.

Solo Backing Chords
How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine Solo Backing Chords

Sweet Child O’ Mine – Bridge

After a mammoth solo from Slash and his trusty Gibson SG, we’re treated to some more reprises of the song. Accompanying the lyric ‘where do we go now‘, we’re playing this new set of chords nice and softly so to create dynamic contrast.

Moreover, a fantastic way to create dynamic contrast could be to palm-mute the strings with your strumming hand. Whereby, you would rest on the bridge in addition to covering the strings with a little bit of pressure. Enough to reduce the strings from vibrating as much as they otherwise would have done.

Sweet Child Bridge
How to play: Sweet Child O’ Mine Bridge

Outro

Having played through everything that we’ve looked at, it’s now time to look at the final bars of the track. Our outro approaches the 5-minute mark and works through the bridge chords.

However, right at the end, we want to let a few chords ring out before finishing on a hefty and dramatic Em chord: Em / G / Am / C / D / Em.

And that’s all there is to it!

*Relevant Gear for Sweet Child O’ Mine

Get the relevant gear here at Thomann*.

How to play series

Conclusively, we’ve gone through the major components that all work together to make Sweet Child O’ Mine what we know and love. Stay tuned; next time we’ll look at another classic rock tune in the same depth and detail.

Any requests, let us know!

Videos

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How to play Sweet Child O' Mine

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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