UG Weekend Riff: Part 6

Ultimate Guitar


Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine. Let's take a look at a classic riff from Stoke-On-Trent's best guitarist. Currently working with new band Velvet Revolver, the Les Paul playing Slash was responsible for the D-chord variations that create this famous intro. Here's how to nail the start of a song that saw the band at the top of the world in 1988, and on the verge of coming crashing back down again.


Ok, start by detuning your guitar. I know, it's a painfully time-consuming task, but this riff is in Eb standard so to replicate it you need to drop down a semi-tone on every string. If you're feeling lazy, no-one will mind if you don't detune. The second guitar is also detuned and comes in on the eighth bar playing gradually louder D powerchords. It then continues to play variations of the same chord progression, D, Cadd9, G and then D again. (A second guitarist and even a bassist can come in at the eighth bar and if the Weekend Bass Riff ever gets on the ground then we promise to provide you with spot on tab asap!)

Next up, lets look at the style here. Slash, despite being one of the world's top guitarists, is pretty simplistic in his playing style. He favours the minor pentatonic above any other scales and his solos prove this. The introduction here utilises the D minor pentatonic and, for the most part, a D Major shape chord at the 12th fret. To aid you in fretting the right strings with the right fingers, the 1, 2, 3, 4 finger numbering system is shown on the tab. Try to move your fingers almost immediately after picking the next note to both keep the rhythm up and to stop any unwanted notes ringing out. For the same reason, turn your reverb off or very low. Picking is simple, just alternately pick every note and you'll be fine.

Gear Info & Settings:

As for equipment, it's Les Paul time again and a Marshall amplifier, preferably Slash's very own signature model but, for the normal, poor people, any Marshall amp will sound great. Use a bridge humbucker and these settings:

Amp Settings:

  • Drive - 6
  • Treble - 8
  • Mid - 6
  • Bass - 5

    Audio & Tab:

    Fingering Key 1 - Index finger 2 - Middle finger 3 - Ring Finger 4 - Pinkie

    120 bpm

       D | -------------15----14---- | -------------15----14---- | |:----15------------------- | ----15------------------- | | -------14-12----14----14- | -------14-12----14----14- | | -12---------------------- | -12---------------------- | |:------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2

       Cadd9 | -------------15----14---- | -------------15----14---- | | ----15------------------- | ----15------------------- | | -------14-12----14----14- | -------14-12----14----14- | | -14---------------------- | -14---------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | 2 3 2 1 3 2 3 2 2 3 2 1 3 2 3 2

       G | -------------15----14---- | -------------15----14---- | | ----15------------------- | ----15------------------- | | -12----14-12----14----14- | -12----14-12----14----14- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2

    [First and Second Repeats]                                (2nd guitar begins)    D | -------------15----14---- | -------------15----14---- | | ----15------------------- | ----15-------------------:| | -------14-12----14----14- | -------14-12----14----14- | | -12---------------------- | -12---------------------- | | ------------------------- | -------------------------:| | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 3 2

    [Third Repeat]

    | -12----------12----14---- | -15----14----12---------- | | -------15---------------- | -------------------15*--- | | ----14----14----14----14- | ----14----14----14------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | | ------------------------- | ------------------------- | 1 2 3 2 1 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 1 2 3

    Click here to get a midi file of the tab above.

  • 76 comments sorted by best / new / date

      That's interesting. A few days ago I discovered Slash's Snakepit once again. And I found tabs for "Neither Can I", for intro. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L
      i know for a fact this song is in Eb cuz i played along with this b4 this riff came out and it was in Eb. And by the way stairway kinda actually has a riff, the intro, but i guess you don't consider it. Its just as much a riff as this one. Oh well no complaints i wanna master the solo so keep up the good work Geldof, oh by the way if your an ignorant, uninformed, dumbass...DON'T POST OR TAB ANYTHING
      Gunstar Hero
      when i learned this myself i used sort of a two handed tapping method. its alot easier and either makes me look pretty cool or like an idiot. the song is tuned 1/2 step down so playing by yourself it doesn't matter if your in standard tuning but if your playing along with the song youve gotta tune to Eb
      It took so much practice to get that lick down..
      Same here. Exept when I play this, I use ALL of my fingers, unlike Slash. I prefer to use all my fingers.
      I just tried learning that and because I'm not very good with my solo scales and abilities, I had a little difficulty, but I have nearly mastered it now!
      pretty good man! i didnt understand the finger things exactly, but i came closer to getting it right! NICE.
      Troy Stetina, recently featured in the 10 Great Guitarists you didn't know about, tunes to Eb. Read the article and you'll know that if he says it's right then it's right. Anyway listen to the track, it sounds flat. Play it with both tunings to hear for yourself. Also check this out.
      Geldof, you are god. You will better than that by the end of the 10th edition. . I can't wait for the whole of Stairway. .
      hmmmmm I always played it the wrong way I guess. But I can play it none the less.
      PunkSpikedFreak: I think you have to tune down to all flats. Cuz later in the song he strums an Eb chord u wouldnt b able to do it unless you tunned down
      Why don't you just play a D chord then?
      im not mental
      when i played it in chords it sounded alot like the bridge to times like these by the foo fighters
      uh ... doesn't Slash use the neck pick up , not the bridge? Apart from that , thanks for the amp setting
      Um Yeah I know one thing about this is that Slash used the neck pick-up, to get that rounded sounded
      @ FakePlsticTrees: i am playing for about eight months now and i think this intro riff is quite easy (especially if you don`t use your small finger, god i hate that finger ! i can`t even hammer on/ pull off with it !)
      free_iraq: please tab slipknot, korn or metallica, geldof. anyway nice work. [POSTED: 24 July 2004 - 07:14]|
      Lol that is funny....!
      I think you have to tune down to all flats. Cuz later in the song he strums an Eb chord u wouldnt b able to do it unless you tunned down.
      free_iraq: please tab slipknot, korn or metallica, geldof. anyway nice work. [POSTED: 24 July 2004 - 07:14]|
      lmmfao. anyways, great tabbing. Just spread out the fingering so it matches the notes.
      the whole reason why i got a les paul with humbuckers is to get this song played perfectly. Unluckily, learning this song is hard for a noob with only 6 months in the guitar world.
      Slash: "Sweet child o mine was a joke. it was a fluke. I was sitting around amking funny faces and acting like and idiot and played that riff. Izzy started playing chords that i was playing, strumming them and all of a sudden Axl really liked it. I hated that song because it was so stupid at first *laughs*. I hated the guitar part. Now i really like it because I've gotten to the point where it sound really good when i play it live. and im so used to the song so i like it more now. But it definaly wasn't something i hummed out in my head. It was more like me f***ing around with the guitar." slash doesn' hate the whole song he only hated that riff but now he likes it.
      i heard slash dislikes the riff. he was muckin round on his guitar 1 day and axl said hey thats kinda cool, but slash disagreed. apparently he dislikes the whole song.
      I learned this the other day... I use my pinky... you do not need to use certain fingers for it. That's so textbook.
      I won't say that I thought everyone who plays guitar knows this riff by heart. Anyway, good work. Always love GnR. Love Slash, even if he invented this fantatic riff by accident. Great musician, unbelievable musical feeling in his fingers.
      Geld! ahh...another classic, as alwayz, waiting for the 10th edition!
      slash always likes it a semi tone down..... it sounds way more like it like that but im to lazy. HAahhaa funny that the riff was a joke. Sucks i already learned the thing.
      The Jin
      Slash time!! its not that hard a riff though. the main highlight of this one is the amp setting info.
      It took so much practice to get that lick down.. Very funny fingering for the last third of the lick, 12 and 14 on the same string. However, i am looking foward to next installment of this article.. I LOVE IT!
      Geldof the Grey
      OK, a lot of people asked for Stariway to Heaven. But thre's no riff in Stairway, right? So, Part 10 will be the ENTIRE Stairway to Heaven solo. Meanwhile, the finger numbers are broken, they haven't lined up properly for some reason... I will check with Zappp. Good luck to you guys. I will definately bring you some nu-metal next week!
      sweet deal, way to go geldof, these things rock, i was just thinking that i should finally learn this song since i love vr and just got into guns, thanks a lot man, keep em comin!
      If you are just playing the main riff, you won't have to de tune your guitar, just shift it down a fret, so that saves some time on tuning. But all my magazies say it is Em pentatonic, but It does sound better detuned.
      ITS DROPPED HALF STEP! Just believe me. Thats the way Slash writes everything, just like this song. And it was his birthday yesterday, so happy birthday.
      exactly how new is VR? i gave them a listen cus john frusciante was talking about them- i didnt like them all THAT much... i sometimes CAN get into metal, but this one seems really generic