How to Play Rock N Me Chords
In this Steve Miller Band Guitar lesson, brought to you by Guitar Control Instructor, Robert Baker, Robert is going to breakdown the Rock n Me chords and main riffs. This is a great song for an intermediate guitar player. But there are still a lot of really techniques and ideas that beginners can use to start to grasp these concepts. Lots of muting, straight up blues style rhythm parts, and hammer ons. And how to write simple, but powerful lines with lots of attitude.
Step 1: Riff One
In this Steve Miller Band Guitar lesson will probably be a quick one for you. We start with two power chords. First an A5. Robert is doing the three finger version of it, which includes holding the octave note down with your pinky. So for A5 your pointer is on the 6th string 5th fret, your ring finger is on the 5th string 7th fret, and your pinky is right under your ring finger holding down the octave on the 4th string 7th fret. An octave means it’s the same note, 8 notes higher. So it is the same pitch. An A, and a higher A. That is why singers have different ranges and why this note is optional….we don’t need it in the chord because we are already holding down a lower A with our pointer but if we want to strum more strings and have a fuller sound we can include it because it is already in the chord. We strum this A5 twice, one down stroke and then an up. Then slide up two frets on the same string to play a B5. Pointer on the 6th string 7th fret, ring finger on the 5th string 9th fret, and pinky on the 4th string 9th fret. The Steve Miller Band puts a lot of emphasis on these chords and slide off of them off the neck to give this riff a lot of attitude and style. After the B5 he plays an E5. The E5 is played with your pointer on the 5th string 7th fret, ring finger on the 4th string 9th fret and pinky right under your ring on the 3rd string 9th fret. Strum down and then up and then go back to the B5 on the 6th string 7th fret. The sliding out of the chords is a great way to practice resetting your hands. A lot of times it’s easy to get your hands in one shape and become stiff and robotic… this forces you to add some style and to truly know your shapes.
This riff is so cool. It’s very original and very much makes you think of the Steve Miller band. You start it by barring your pointer finger on the 9th fret on the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings. You are basically barring a B chord but with an E on top. So you are going to strum down on your barred 9th fret and then hammer on to the 11th fret on the 5th string only. So strum the bar, hammer on and then pick up, strumming just the higher notes of the bar, focusing on the 3rd and 4th strings. Then repeat this four times and go back to the chords we did in the beginning. So this hammer on riff breaks up the straight chords. This riff can be kind of tricky if you aren’t familiar with barring. If you are having trouble feel free to isolate these changes and work on them in sections instead of all at once. So if you haven’t mastered hammer ons yet, just kind of break it apart. You don’t always have to do everything at once, you can just practice the actual hammer on and then add in the details of the strum after you have that mastered. To learn another awesome song full of hammer ons check out our video on how to play Crosstown Traffic by Jimi Hendrix.
Step 2: The Driving Riff
So this rocking riff starts on the F on the 6th string. Even though Robert is using distortion in the lesson, the Steve Miller Band actually uses barely any. This song is super driving though so feel free to use some if you want to make it sound heavier. So starting on the F# he plays the 6th string 2nd fret to the 6th string 5th fret. Then he does the same thing on the 5th string, picks the 2nd fret then the 5th. Then roll your pinky up from the 5th fret 5th string to pick the 5th fret 6th string again. Then end this phrase but picking the 5th string 2nd fret with your pointer finger. That whole riff uses alternate picking, which means every note switching from a down pick to an up pick, or more often referred to as a downstroke or an up stroke, meaning down is when we pick towards our freet on the top of the string and up is when we pick up towards our face on the bottom of the string. Repeat this entire riff twice. Even though they play it very clean it’s fun to crank up the distortion of this heavy riff. Also be sure to palm mute this entire riff. Palm muting is when you kind of karate chop your guitar with your picking hard against the strings very close to the bridge, you can even rest on the bridge a little if you like. You leave your picking hand touching the strings while you pick to create a tighter more controlled sound. Much more staccato than when you do not mute. So to put it simply, tighter sounding, almost restricted, not letting the strings ring out.
Step 3: The Verse
So we just covered what palm muted is. Now this entire section is going to be using this technique! So for the verse you are starting by palm muting B5, pointer on the 7th fret 6th string and ring finger on the 9th fret 5th string. You strum that 16 times! Which is really just two measures full of eighth notes, so one and two and three and four and….playing on every single one of those counts two times through, all downstrokes picking both strings at once. Then move down two frets to an A5, so now pointer is on the 6th string 5th fret and ring finger is on the 5th string 7th fret. Then play the A5 16 times, so two full measures of strictly eighth notes. Then just move both fingers down a string and up two frets to move from A5 to E5, pointer now on the 5th string 7th fret and ring finger on the 4th string 9th fret, strumming the E5 16 times as well. Then move each finger up a string going back to the B5 chord right above the E5. Pointer now on the 6th string 7th fret and ring finger on the 5th string 9th fret and strum this 16 times. So you end and begin with the same chord, the B5. So when you repeat the B5 is actually played 32 times in a row, or 4 measures of eighth notes because the progression ends with two measures and starts with two measures so when they connect it becomes four measures of B5. At 6:22 Robert shows you how he doesn’t just play this all with the same dynamic… even though the rhythm is very straight he accents certain notes to make them pop out and make this part more exciting. So feel free to have fun with this one and add your own accents. Robert is adding his on the second measure on the and of 3 and the and of 4, and sometimes on beat one of the first measure. Have fun with this stuff, it is stripped down and there’s not a lot happening.
Step 4: The Chorus
When we get to the chorus we enter this classic blues shuffle. Starting with a B5 power chord, pointer on the 6th string 7th fret and middle finger on the 5th string 9th fret. The reason why we use our middle finger for this bar chord is because we need to make room to stretch since our pinky is going to be grabbing some blues notes to create the classic blues shuffle feel. So strum that power chord twice and then use your pinky to change the note on the 5th string from the ith fret to the 11th, grabbing it with your pinky. Strum once with the new note and then back to the original B power chord, the 7th and 9th frets on the 6th and 5th strings. Repeat 3 times. Then Robert adds in another special note on the 5th string since The Steve Miller Band is doing some crazy stuff for this part. Now he moves his pinky to grab the 12th fret 5th string while still holding down the 7th fret 6th string, and strums this twice. Then move your pinky to the qqth fret 5th string and strum that twice. Then do the same exact movements but now off of the A5 chord, so starting with your pointer now on the 6th string 5th fret and your middle on the 5th string 7th fret. So strum twice then reach your pinky over to the 9th fret 5th string and strum once and then back to the 7th fret and repeat 3 times. Then two times with pinky on the 5th string 11th fret with your pointer still holding down the 6th string 5th fret for this entire part, strum twice, then bring move it in so it’s now on the 10th fret and then strum that chord twice. Then back to the E5. Pointer on the 5th string 7th fret and middle finger on the 4th string 9th fret. And same stum with the pinky movements and all. So first strum E5 twice, then move your pinky to the 9th fret 5th string then back to the 7th for one more strum on E5. Then repeat that a total of three times and on the fourth time put your pinky on the 10th fret while still holding down the E with your pointer on the 5th string 7th fret and strum twice, and then move your pinky in so it snow on the 9th fret again and strum this twice. The back to the B5 repeating this whole pattern.
Then you are going to stay on the B5 for one more measure but this time you just do the first half of the blues shuffle, not the extra pinky stuff. So two strums on B5 then move your pinky to the 9th fret, strum one, and then bring it back to B5 and strum once. Repeat that a total of four times. Then same thing on the A5, and then back to the fancier shuffle when we go back to the E5 so this has the normal shuffle plus the pinky moving from the 12th to the 11th frets. Then B5 with the fancy shuffle and then B5 again with a straighter shuffle, the one without any extra punky stuff the last time but this time in the second measure you accent the down beats making them stand out more. Then back to the main riff!
Recap: How To Play Rock N Me
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play Rock N Me by The Steve Miller Band. This song is a lot of fun and has a few pretty interesting parts that make this song stand out. Remember to break down any hard parts and isolate your changes. It doesn’t matter how fast we learn it if we don’t learn it right. So slow these riffs down, pay attention to details, and most importantly, have fun!