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How To Play Thunderstruck – Rhythm vs. Lead Guitar

Ayla Tesler-Mabe, Kent Shores  /  Lessons / Dec 31

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When you listen to Thunderstruck by AC/DC, the lead guitar part grabs your attention and really never lets go. Because of this, the rhythm guitar part tends to get forgotten. But Malcolm’s rhythm playing in this song (and just about every other AC/DC classic) is amazing and shouldn’t be overlooked. So in this lesson, Ayla and Kent are here to break down both guitar parts from Thunderstruck!

The Lead Part
This is the part of the song you probably think of when you think of this song. The entire part is played on the B string which is handy. Basically, you’ll be playing a fretted note followed by the open B string over and over for this riff. It’s played quite fast so it’s important that you start off playing it slowly. 

A trick to getting the part down faster is to use hammer-ons and pull-offs, but Angus actually alternate picks the whole thing. Using this picking technique makes each note have the same attack which is important for nailing Angus’ sound.

The Rhythm Part
The two main techniques used for Malcolm’s part are palm muting and power chords. These are pretty staple rhythm guitar techniques for all genres and styles of music. The challenge with this guitar part is getting the strumming pattern down. It’s not a typical pattern that guitar players use so it may take some practice to get it down. Try singing or tapping out the rhythm first to internalize it before trying to strum it. 

When you get to the chorus, you’ll need to add a little walk-up to the power chords. You can do this with your thumb or with your fingers depending on what you’re most comfortable with. And once you get that part down, you’ll have most of the song figured out.

From here on out, try paying attention to both the rhythm and lead parts of your favorite songs. It will give you a whole new level of appreciation for the music!


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