LickLibrary Classic Albums Nevermind [TUTORIAL]
“Nevermind” is the second studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991. Produced by Butch Vig, the album is known for its dynamic mix of punk, rock, and grunge elements, and propelled the band to international fame. Nevermind set the tone for ‘90s alternative rock and the Grunge movement which inspired a generation of new guitar players, and took the raw energy and sensibilities of punk rock and injected them with haunting and dynamically diverse songwriting. This article focuses on the guitar work of lead guitarist and songwriter, Kurt Cobain, and aims to provide guitarists with an appreciation of the album’s unique sound.
With devastatingly heavy power chord riffs married with edgy and sombre guitar parts, Kurt Cobain’s undeniable energy and attitude is channelled through some of the most iconic guitar playing of the last 30 years. Sam Bell teaches the uncompromising guitar parts from this timeless album, with licklibrary video tutorials and guidance on how to recreate the unique playing style of Kurt Cobain. Relive the album which changed the course of rock history
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit
The album’s iconic opening track features a guitar riff based on power chords and played with heavy palm-muting. The chord progression is F-Bb-Ab-Db, played in drop-D tuning (D-A-D-G-B-E). Cobain’s playing style includes heavy use of syncopated rhythms and power chords, which became hallmarks of the grunge sound.
2. In Bloom
“In Bloom” showcases Cobain’s ability to craft catchy, yet unconventional chord progressions. The song’s main riff uses power chords and incorporates slides and open-string riffs, while the chorus includes barre chords and melodic single-note lines.
3. Come as You Are
This track features a hypnotic, chorus-drenched riff using a simple chromatic progression. Cobain employs alternate picking and legato techniques for a smooth, fluid sound. The song is played in standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E).
“Breed” is a fast-paced, punk-influenced track that demonstrates Cobain’s mastery of galloping rhythms and aggressive power chord progressions. The song is played in drop-D tuning, with heavy use of palm-muting and rapid chord changes.
“Lithium” highlights Cobain’s ability to balance heavier sections with lighter, more melodic moments. The song features a mix of power chords, arpeggiated chords, and single-note melodies, with the chorus employing an unconventional chord progression (D5-G5-Bb5-E5) that adds to the song’s unique sound.
This haunting acoustic track showcases Cobain’s fingerpicking skills, utilizing finger-picking and Travis picking techniques. The song is played in standard tuning, with the guitar employing a capo on the second fret. The chords are simple and include G, D, and C.
7. Territorial Pissings
A punk-infused, high-energy track, “Territorial Pissings” features rapid, aggressive strumming and power chords. Cobain uses tremolo picking for the fast-paced single-note lines, adding intensity to the song.
8. Drain You
“Drain You” contains catchy, melodic riffs that showcase Cobain’s ability to create memorable hooks. The song uses standard tuning and features a mix of power chords, single-note melodies, and octave melodies. The bridge includes a section with arpeggiated chord progressions, adding a dynamic contrast to the heavier sections.
9. Lounge Act
“Lounge Act” incorporates a bass-heavy groove and punchy power chords. Cobain employs palm-muting and slides to create a tight, rhythmic feel. The song is played in standard tuning, with an emphasis on the low E and A strings.
10. Stay Away
“Stay Away” is a high-energy track that combines punk and grunge elements. Cobain’s use of aggressive power chords, pick slides, and a driving rhythm section creates an intense, raw sound. The song is played in standard tuning.
11. On a Plain
“On a Plain” is an upbeat, melodic track that features Cobain’s signature blend of catchy riffs and unconventional chord progressions. The song incorporates power chords, single-note lines, and double stops, with Cobain employing hammer-ons and pull-offs for added texture.
12. Something in the Way
The album’s haunting closing track showcases Cobain’s ability to create powerful, emotive music with minimal instrumentation. The song features a simple, fingerpicked arpeggio pattern played in standard tuning, with Cobain using finger-picking and Travis picking techniques.
Kurt Cobain: Lead Guitarist and Songwriter
Kurt Cobain, the lead guitarist and songwriter of Nirvana, is known for his raw, emotive playing style and ability to create memorable, catchy riffs. He made significant contributions to the band’s sound on “Nevermind” by drawing from a range of influences, including punk, hard rock, and pop. Cobain’s unique approach to guitar playing, which prioritized emotion and intensity over technical proficiency, helped define the grunge sound and influenced countless guitarists in the years that followed.
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