Smells Like Teen Spirit Guitar Lesson – Nirvana

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In this video guitar lesson we are going to be taking an in depth look at the one song that literally changed music history, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

Released in 1991 as the lead single off of Nirvana’s massively successful Nevermind album, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ushered in the alternative music movement (referred to many fans as the grunge era) that dominated the music industry during the first half of the 90’s.

In this Smells Like Teen Spirit guitar lesson video, I will break down every section of this hard rock masterpiece note-for-note.

Guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain ushers in the song with a riff consisting of 4 power chords played in a highly aggressive and rhythmic strumming style albeit on a clean guitar tone.

As the rest of the band enters, those same 4 power chords are given the big rock treatment with an absolutely crushing sound.

The hardest part of mastering those chord changes is getting the right hand rhythm right. Play close attention to my picking hand so you can get this down quickly. Also focus on muting any unwanted strings as well, since your chord strums will probably be quite large.

The verse is quite literally, two simple notes. It really doesn’t get any easier than this!! But it is still incredibly effective!

Another part we will take a look at in this video is the chord progression coming out of the chorus. The riff requires some quick shifting, but once again is primarily simple power chords.

The last thing I will break down in this video lesson is Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Once again, Kurt chose to keep it simple and extremely catchy. The guitar solo is pretty much identical to the verse melody. There are a few bends to contend with, but all in all you will probably get it down pretty quick.

I would put “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at about a upper beginner level. Virtually any player that loved that musical era should try to master it. It is incredible how it has stood the test of time and continues to inspire musicians decades after it’s release. 🙂

Rock Out!!

Video Rating: / 5


  1. I love your videos they've been so helpful.  If you could do some steel panther videos that'd be amazing.  Asian hooker or anything goes….

  2. pičovina

  3. What guitar was used

  4. please dumb

  5. Is this in a standard 440 as Nirvana usually plays in some pretty weird tuning ?

  6. Aurelien Noscope

    TUNING ?



  8. I think my fingers are going full retard…

  9. Zelta _advetures

    Are you using an electric guitar or base… sorry,but I'm new with this stuff

  10. you have motivated me to play so long ago i just never had a guitar until now lol but its a cheap one "BC" like $100 but i still cant play even if sounds dont match i just wanna shred because of you! 🙂

  11. I dont understand what a power chord is please help.

  12. Julien Jabbour

    super lesson thank u and very good detailled solo continue like this

  13. Grayson Hatton

    is this guitar anygood? Fender Japan Jt-95 Jagstang

  14. Hi Sir. Can you make a lesson of the solo of far behind by Candlebox please.

  15. thanks I can now play this song decently.
    PS for those of you who are hitting other strings then the one required-Just lay down your index finger on all the strings while pressing down on the 6th or 5th string(depending upon the chord).This would mute all the strings that are not to be played.

  16. One Thousand subs No videos?!

    I subscribed! Keep up the great work mate! From all the Aussie guitar players.

  17. i cant play this song to save my life

  18. i dont understand why you mute the low e string but dont hit it when you strum. Why do i have to mute it?

  19. My All Time Chemical 5 Seconds Of Green Romance


  20. Ted Bundy plays Nirvana… cool

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