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.

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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

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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.

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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.

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

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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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

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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How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – String Bending & Solo

(Fast-forward to 2:02 of the song for this section)

One really cool point to make about learning how to play seven nation army on guitar is that it teaches us some great songwriting and soloing tips.

Jack White wrote a guitar solo that would reinforce the melody that he had already written.

  • The fact that this solo is so straightforward makes it one of the high points of learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.
  • There are a number of ways that we can approach this solo, and Jack White performs it with a slide over his finger.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to give you a whole crash course on slide guitar in this article.

Instead, we’re going to look at a technique called string bending.

seven-nation-army-on-guitar

This is the coolest part of learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.

Skill Tip: String bending is easy – it just takes practice!

Before we begin playing the solo to this section, we’ll want to give this a shot:

Place your ring finger on the fret you want to bend from on the high E string, and your middle finger on the fret behind it.

  • For example, if you are bending at the 10th fret, your middle should be on the 9th.

If you like, you can put your index on the fret behind your middle for more strength.

  • Pick the note that you’re fretting, and push the string up toward you.
  • You’ll want to make sure that your middle and index provide additional support to your ring finger.

This is called a reinforced bend, and we’ll be using them in just a moment.

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There are three types of bends we can use:

  • ¼ Bend – Vibrates the note but does not completely shift to a higher note
  • ½ Bend – Bend far enough that your note climbs up one fret in pitch
  • Full Bend – Bend far enough that your note climbs up two frets in pitch

Give these a shot to hear the difference, and look out for them in the tab.

Now that we’ve got a handle on bending, let’s play this solo already!

  • This solo starts off with our index finger at the 9th fret of the G string.
  • We are going to be playing almost the exact same rhythm from the verse and chorus with a different octave of notes.
  • Pay close attention to the flow of the notes in the song, and count along with the tab to see exactly how it’s being played.

We’ve included slides in the tab to help you see where to shift your hand position up to reach the next set of frets.

Slide with your ring finger so you can reach the frets behind with your index.

Check out the first 8 bars:

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The smaller fret numbers represent frets that can be used to slide up to another fret with.

This adds some more detail to our technique, and is a nice touch.

The next eight bars can be found below:

7-nation-army-guitar

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How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – Song Structure

The layout of Seven Nation Army is quite simple, and we’ve laid it out for you in detail below:

  • Intro/Verse: Play riff 12 times
  • Pre-Chorus: 3rd and 5th fret power chords
  • Chorus: With octaves
  • Pre-Chorus: 3rd and 5th fret power chords
  • Verse: Play riff 12 times
  • Pre-Chorus: 3rd and 5th fret power chords
  • Solo
  • Pre-Chorus: 3rd and 5th fret power chords
  • Verse: Play riff 12 times
  • Pre-Chorus: 3rd and 5th fret power chords
  • Chorus: With octaves
  • End by holding 7th fret octave on the A string, then hitting the low E open

seven-nation-army-guitar-tab

Remember when learning how to play seven nation army on guitar that it’s important to practice section to section.

This method of practice will help us understand the structure of the song as a whole.

seven-nation-army-guitar-tab

Bonus: How To Play Seven Nation Army on Guitar – Tone Tips

In this section, we’ll look at a few of the ways we can make our guitar sound like Jack White’s in seven nation army using different pedals.

  • If we want to learn how to play seven nation army on guitar with the right tone, the first thing we can experiment with is an Octave pedal.
  • Octave pedals are used to digitally drop or raise the pitch of the guitar, and can create some pretty awesome sounds all on their own.

Jack White used a Digitech Whammy pedal to record seven nation army, but any octave pedal will do.

seven-nation-army-tab-for-guitar

Another key addition to Jack White’s guitar rig on seven nation army is a Fuzz pedal.

  • Fuzz pedals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are designed to over-distort your guitar signal, resulting in the sound from the name.
  • Jack White favors the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff for his fuzzed-out and distorted guitar tone.

Learning about tone can help us better understand the sounds in our head.

Do your research to find out what pedals your favorite guitarists use!

Where do I go from here?

Not yet through with your daily practice and craving more knowledge.

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