How To Play The Main Riff to Sunshine of Your Love on Guitar
A classic rock song played by one of the world’s greatest guitar players, in arguably his coolest band, that you can learn in minutes? Yes, please! In this Guitar Control lesson video I will show you how to play “Sunshine of Your Love” on guitar by Cream! You either know and love this song already, or you have heard it and didn’t know it was this song, and love it. In all my years of teaching no one is ever not excited to learn this riff!
Click on the Tabs button to follow the chords and tabs.
Step 1: The Scales
The first step to learning how to play “Sunshine of Your Love” on guitar is figuring out what key this song is in. Even though this song is in D Major, we are focused on the D minor blues scale. The D minor blues scale is very similar to the D minor pentatonic scale, but we have a couple of added notes, called, “blues notes”. To take a closer look at this scale, please click the video above to see me play it.
Step 2: The Main Riff
So we start with our ring finger on the 12th fret, 4th string and we play the 12th fret twice, playing 12, 12, then we go to the 10th fret, 4th string and pick it once using our pointer finger and then back to the 12th fret, 4th string with our ring finger. So so far we are only on the 4th string, playing the frets, 12, 12, 10, 12. Then on the 5th string I play the 12th fret, 11th fret, and 10th fret….this is our blues scale showing, having these notes played chromatically (which means right next to one another, right after one another). So so far we start on the 4th string playing frets 12, 12, 10, 12 and then we move to the 5th string and play the frets 12, 11, 10.
For our chromatic notes I use my ring finger on the 12th fret, my middle on the 11th fret, and my pointer for the 10th fret. To end this riff we now come out of our pentatonic box and slide with our ring finger on the 6th string. It doesn’t really matter what fret you slide from because that’s not the focus but I am sliding from about the 8th fret to the 10th fret. It is most important where we land, which is the 10th fret, 6th string.
Then we are going to use our pointer to pick the 8th fret, 5th string once and end by pick the 10th fret, 6th string with our ring finger and adding lots of vibrato. Vibrato is a lead guitar technique that adds tons of feel to your playing. To add vibrato we wiggle the string back and forth with tons of control so that we are not going to any specific pitch. If you are enjoying learning this simple but awesome riff, check out our lesson on how to play Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones for another one.
Step 3: The Main Riff Played Higher
Now that you have learned how to play the main riff to Sunshine of Your Love, Part 2 is going to be a piece of cake! For part 2 all we do is take this part and move it up! Up in pitch that is. We are going to play all the same frets but we are changing the strings.
Instead of starting our riff on the 4th string, we now start it on the 3rd string but keep the same frets and rhythm as part 1. So frets 12, 12, 10, 12 all on the 3rd string. Then we are going to play our chromatic part, frets 12, 11, and 10 on the 4th string. Then we end by sliding on the 5th string from about the 8th fret to the 10th with our ring finger, then dropping our pointer to the 4th string, 8th fret and picking it once, then ending on the 5th string, 10th fret with vibrato
Recap: How To Play Sunshine of Your Love on Guitar
It is amazing how simple this riff is but how cool and fun it also is to play. Learning how to play “Sunshine of Your Love” on guitar also teaches you that you don’t have to overdo things just cause you’re a guitar hero. If Eric Clapton can rock a cool, simple riff and let it be cool and simple and not over complicate it, then so can you!