How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar

Learning how to play seven nation army on guitar is a rite of passage for every guitarist. In this epic lesson we’re going to show you everything you need to know about this iconic song.


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In this free lesson you will learn:

  • How to play seven nation army on guitar (from beginner to advanced!).
  • 3 easy tone tips that will make you sound like Jack White.
  • 5 essential guitar secrets that will help you learn songs as quickly as possible.


We’re going to break down the techniques needed to learn how to play seven nation army on guitar.

If you’ve come here because you’re only interested in learning the beloved main riff of the song, read no further!

  • We’ve got it tabbed out right here for you.
  • Start out with your index finger on the 7th fret of the A string, and use your pinky to reach the 9th fret on both the E and A strings.
  • Then simply, move this shape around each fret listed below on the tab.

This is a fantastic way to learn how to play seven nation army on guitar, however if you find this too difficult, you can just play the notes on the A string.


How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – An Introduction

In March of 2003, Meg and Jack White released the lead single from their fourth studio album Elephant.

The single was titled Seven Nation Army, and it rocked the world’s airwaves.

  • Seven Nation Army enjoyed (and is still enjoying) a long life as a catchy, Billboard-topping Rock tune.
  • The song’s life was further extended in 2017 when it became the most played song in TV commercials (according to Billboard) due to its appearance in Dr. Dre’s “Be Heard” campaign for Beats Headphones.
  • On top of all of this success, this White Stripes classic is also an influential song for many beginner guitarists.

Since its release, learning how to play Seven Nation Army on guitar has been a rite of passage for many musicians.


Why Is This Such a Commonly Learned Song?

Learning how to play seven nation army on guitar is a straightforward process that uses the same musical idea different ways.

  • This is a great example of how simplicity is often the best tool we have to write music with.
  • The song’s main melody follows a strict pattern in both the verse and chorus sections, with only a few slight differences between them.

This makes this song extremely easy to break down for the guitarist who is looking for a simple song to learn.


A unique lesson that learning how to play seven nation army on guitar teaches us is that the guitar can play the same notes as its counterpart – the bass guitar.

  • This song begins with what sounds like a bass guitar, but is actually just a guitar being pitched down using an octave pedal.
  • If you’re stressed about not being able to play notes low enough for this song, don’t worry – It will sound the same with a higher pitch.

Let’s start by breaking down the best way to learn songs.


What is the Best Way to Learn Songs On Guitar?

The answer to this question strongly depends on who you ask, but we’re going to give you our golden rule to learning songs.

It’s simple:

  • Learn everything in small portions.

Not only do you want to approach learning the song slowly, you also want to understand what is happening in each section.

Learning in sections helps us get a better picture of how to play the song as a whole, and the same applies to learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.


In today’s lesson, this song will be broken down into four sections:

  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Solo

It’s important to note that there are only slight differences between the verse and chorus sections.

Top Tip – Remember, to listen first before you play. 

Your ears are your greatest tool as a guitarist. They will never lie to you, and they will always try to guide you in the right direction.


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How To Play Seven Nation Army on Guitar – Intro & Verse

The intro and verse sections of this song are identical, which makes it a lot easier to learn and play through.

  • We can start with our index finger at the 7th fret on the A string, and perform this whole riff on two strings to make it easy.
  • Use your pinky finger to get to the 10th fret on both the A and low E strings, and your middle finger on the 8th fret.

When we are learning how to play Seven Nation Army on guitar, we want to pay attention to how Jack White is playing each note.


We’ve included tablature and notation in this article for you to play along with.

If you’re not hip to reading music, that’s okay too! This is how your note durations should look in the intro and verse:

Long – Short – Short – Short – Short – Long – Long

Make sure to listen to the track while learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.

You will hear these long and short bursts of notes in that order.

Skill Tip: The proper term used for the shorter notes in this riff is Staccato.

For those of us interested in the exact note durations, they are as follows:

Dotted Quarter – 16th – 8th – 8th – 8th – Half – Half


Skill Tip: This is the only main rhythm played in this song, so take some time to play along now and get it under your hands

We repeat this riff twelve times before moving on to the chorus:

How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – Pre-Chorus & Chorus

The pre-chorus is perhaps the easiest section of this song to conquer, as it only requires two power chords to play. 

We can jump down to our 3rd fret on the low E string and form a power chord using the following finger shape:

E String – Index, 3rd fret

A String – Ring, 5th fret

D String – Pinky, 5th fret

Give this chord a solid eight strums with your pick, then slide up two frets to the fifth fret and repeat for another eight.


From there, we launch straight into the main chorus riff

  • When we are learning how to play seven nation army on guitar, it’s very important to pay attention to this next riff.
  • While we play only one riff in the verse section, we play two alternating riffs in the chorus.
  • The first riff of the chorus is similar to the verse and takes place over two bars.

Instead of playing single notes, this time we play octaves.

Octaves are simply the same note played on two different strings, and can add thickness to single-note guitar riffs.


When we play octaves on guitar, we play them across three strings but only use two.

  • The middle string should remain muted. This is easy enough to do by letting our index finger lean back a bit to come in contact with the middle string.
  • Mastering the octave is essential for learning how to play seven nation army on guitar., so take some time now to practice this technique.
  • The following two bars of the chorus riff see us mimic the first two. The difference here is that we add two extra notes to the riff to round it out.

Pay close attention to this section as it is written across the A and G strings instead of the E and A strings.


The reason for this is because it is much easier to move this octave chord shape across just one set of strings.

  • We’re going to play our way out of this section the same way we played in – with the pre-chorus riff once again.
  • Now that we’ve gotten this far, we know the entire foundation of how to play seven nation army on guitar!

Take a second, stretch and breathe.

Now kick on your distortion pedal, and let’s take on the solo section in detail.

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