How To Play the Intro To AC/DC’s Back In Black On Guitar
No one writes a rock riff like AC/DC. They are the kings of big, open, catchy, classic rock riffs, and Back in black is no exception! In my Guitar Control lesson on how to play the intro to Back In Black on guitar, I will break this intro riff and it’s fills down and explain all the techniques used to get you ready to jam it in no time!
Step 1: The Riff
The first step for learning how to play the intro to Back in Back on guitar is knowing that in this song we only use three different power chords; E5, D5 and A5. A power chord is neither major nor minor. We leave the 3rd out of these chords, which is the note that makes chords major or minor-more simply put, the defining note in a chord that makes it sound happy or sad. That’s why power chords are written with the root note (the main note in the chord) and the number 5 (showing that this chord only has a root, and a 5th). Power chords allow you more freedom in solo and melody writing because you are not tied to major or minor. If you are just starting out and you have never played a power chord, make sure you watch the video above to see where I put my fingers and how I pick the strings, leaving out any unwanted notes.
So we start our intro riff off with an E5, I place my pointer finger on the 5th string 2nd fret and I pick only the 6th and 5th strings. I pick an open 6th string because it is an E note and this is our root (our main note) for our E5 chord. Then we go straight to our D5. For our D5 we drop our pointer to the 3rd string, 2nd fret and our ring finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret. For this chord we strum from the 4th string open, which is a D note, to through to the 2nd string, 3rd fret, which is also a D note. For our last chord, the A5, we’re going to place your pointer finger on the 4th string 2nd fret, and strum an open 5th string, which is an A note. So strumming only the 5th and 4th strings. If you are enjoying this AC/DC lesson be sure to check out our lesson on how to play Hells Bells another classic AC/DC song.
Now for our strum directions! This is where we bring our chords to life and give them that AC/DC sound. We strum once, downward on E5, then for both D5 and A5 we strum down, up, down and slap the guitar in between to help space it out and add attitude. To get the best possible mute, which is where we silence our guitar (this sounds silly but when you’re playing with distortion, you need to know how to control it so it doesn’t take over) we karate chop your picking hand down and just touch the strings with our hand to silence them. For our fretting hand, we slap down our hand with all our fingers just touching the strings to silence them and stop them from ringing out. Again, please see the video above to see me demonstrate this. For the intro we play this same rhythm, but the fills change.
Step 2: The Fills
You can’t learn how to play the intro to Back In Black without adding those Angus Young fills to liven this up and add a ton of attitude and style that make this a guitar hero riff.
Fill one is simple and tasty. We start in our open position using our third finger and we pick the 3rd fret, 1st string and then pick the open 1st string. Then we do the same thing on the 2nd string, picking the 3rd fret, 2nd string, and then the open 2nd string. Then we take our second finger and bend a whole step up on the 2nd fret, 3rd string and release to open and then straight back to our E5 power chord so we can play our rhythm again and follow up with our second fill.
For fill two, we pedal, which means we always come back to the same note. So we play the 2nd fret, 5th string in between every other note and the other notes actually just move chromatically which means all the notes are right next to each other, and in this case all of those notes are on the 6th string. So we will be pedalling back and forth between the 5th and 6th string. Every time we are on the 5th string we are playing the 2nd fret, and every other note we are moving chromatically on the 6th string from the 4th fret, to the 5th, then 6th and then twice on the 7th. So 5th string, 2nd fret to the 6th string, 4th fret, then back to the 5th string 2nd fret, and now to the 6th string, 5th fret, back to the 5th string, 2nd fret, to the 6th string, 6th fret, back to the 5th string, 2nd fret, to the 6th string 7th fret and ending by picking the 6th string, 7th fret one extra time (so two times total) and sliding down right back into our E5 to keep cycling that rhythm. I use my pointer on the 5th string, 2nd fret, and my pinky finger on all of the notes on the 6th string and slide down with my pinky, which leaves my pointer hovering over the 2nd fret and ready to jump right back into that open E5 power chord.
Recap: How To Play The Intro To AC/DC’s Back In Black On Guitar
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play the intro to Back In Black! One of my teachers once told me if you can’t make my head turn playing this riff, I don’t care how fast you can solo. That advice really made an impact on me and the message there is to challenge yourself always and always put forth tons of feel in your playing. Make the guitar sing and have attitude while you do it, that is what translates to an audience and that is what makes people feel things. I hope you have a ton of fun with these classic riff and also adding those fills in to help prepare you for leads!