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Unlock the secrets of Back In Black on Guitar


How to play Back In Black on Guitar  · 

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Back In Black is one of AC/DC’s most recognizable records. Let’s check out what notes and chords go together to create one of the world’s favourite rock songs.

Back In Black Guitar Tutorial

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Welcome back to our new how to play series here at Gearnews. Having sampled some late eighties American rock last time, how about we jump down under to the start of the decade with AC/DC?

If you’re new, welcome! Here, we’ll be deep-diving into various sections of specific songs. Using TABs and chords to show you how to play them on guitar. This week we’re examining Back In Black from AC/DCs seventh studio album under the same name.

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Following Bon Scott’s abrupt death in 1980, this album was either make or break for current and longstanding frontman, Brain Johnson. Nonetheless, every song on this album is a winner. So, let’s begin looking at how to play Back In Black.

Intro

Firstly, the opening bars to the track don’t actually feature any chords or notes. Instead, Angus Young accompanies Phil Rudd‘s high-hat drum intro. We want to cover the strings with our fretting hand so that when we strike them with a pick, we can’t hear any sound. This is over six crotchet beats across two bars.

How to play
Back In Black – Intro

Following this, we have just three chords for the next 40 seconds. Comprising two repeating riffs, the intro and verse revolve around E, D and A major. We can play these as open chords. We want to strike E once with a downstroke, and then D and A are both played as down-up-down. Thus, on beats 1e+.

In between the chord progression, we have the two riffs. The first features a cheeky 1/2 step bend, while the other follows the swung pattern of the drums. The first riff is arguably harder than the second, but they’re both well worth mastering.

Verse

As we’ve just been looking at, the intro section forms the verse to Back In Black. However, when starting out on guitar you may only have a few chords in your repertoire. Therefore, it can also be fun and beneficial just to play along with the open chords.

  • how to play AC/DC
  • Back In Black Chords

Despite not being able to play the riff just yet, strumming along with chords will help with your muscle memory, dexterity and rhythm.

Chorus of Back In Black

Our chorus feels pretty relentless compared to the verse. Which is okay, as it matches the powerhouse vocals from Brian Johnson. Similarly, our chorus hovers around a set of chords but with the occasional bend or accent.

The chorus repeats twice, and just like the verse it has two sections. Our first section moves between A, E and B Whereas the other section goes for G, D and A.

We just want to be careful the second time round, as there is an alternate ending. Instead of repeating again, we actually want to play a bar of G followed by a bar of D. Overall, this completes the chorus before returning to the verse.

Solo 1

Between the first solo and the first chorus, there’s another verse and chorus. Having focused a lot on Anngus Young’s lead parts, it’s only fair to look at his late brother’s impressive rhythm sections. Malcom Young was renowned for playing rhythm guitar just like it was lead.

Malcolm Young Solo Chords
Back In Black – Malcolm Young’s Part

Again, we’ve got a repeated pattern throughout the solo. We’re working around a series of power chords that are an appropriate foundation for Angus Young’s noodling in Em. Every couple of bars the rhythmic backing flurries with a cool switchback riff between E and A, just before starting the main chords again.

Eventually, the solo finishes after an impressive 16 bars, and we return to a penultimate chorus.

Bridge

When looking at how to play the bridge of Back In Black, it’s best to read through the TAB slowly. Simply because we’re greeted with an abundance of semi-quavers, also known as 16th notes. Overall, making for a very fast reprise in the middle of the track.

How to play Bridge
Back In Black – Bridge

Luckily for us, we play this riff across the E and A strings initially, before moving downwards to the A and D strings. It’s the same riff, just across different strings. Just watch out for the repeat markers!

Technically, this bridge should be referred to as a Middle Eight, as it lasts for eight bars in the middle of the song. For more of an insight into this, why not check out our guide to song structures?

Outro

The outro of Black In Black is just another solo. With the song being in the Key of Em, it gives any guitarist plenty of soloing opportunities across the fretboard.

Having already looked at the backing chords to the first solo, we don’t need to cover any more content. Simply repeat to fade. Malcolm’s awesome backing chords return once more for some additional air time across this second solo.

Relevant Gear

If playing the song has got you hungry for more AC/DC, then you can find some cool equipment on *Thomann that will help you look and sound the part.

Tutorial Series with Back In Black

There we have it! A collection of parts working together to deliver a killer rock track. Along with some of the gear that you could use to get even closer to the record. Stick around, as we’ll return again with another guide.

As always, if there are any songs that you’d like to know more about, let us know!

Videos

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Back In Black How to play

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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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