In This Guitar Control lesson video, Robert Baker, is going to explain how to play School’s out for summer, but Alice Cooper. This riff is super cool, and super recognizable, and will get everyone wanting to sing along! Robert will go over the main riff and solo, and explain the different techniques used to make both this riff and solo stand out as a legendary song.
To start off this part, and the entire song, Robert goes to the 6th string to play an E power chord. He actually plays this chord in a higher voicing than you’d expect, starting at the 12th fret 6th string with his pointer and using his ring finger to hold down the 5th of the chord on the 14th fret 5th string. He plays this E5 power chord twice. Then rolls his ring finger down to the 4th and 3rd strings, barring them with his ring finger to pick them at the same time. Then he goes back to the 6th string E5 power chord on the 12th and 14th frets on the 6th and 5th strings and plays it twice, just like he did the first time. Now following it with his ring finger holding down the 12th fret on both the 4th and 3rd strings. Robert explains there are other ways to play this and shows a few in the video at 1:28. But recommends this way, since that power chord really thickens up the riff. Then we almost repeat this all. We got back to the E5 chord on the 12th fret and pick it twice and drop our ring finger down barring the 4th and 3rd strings on the 14th fret, he picks once and then he goes straight to the next part with no open hits in between. Straight to his ring pointer barring the 4th and 3rd strings on the 12th fret and follows it with this chromatic lick, all on the 4th string, and picks the 14th, 13th, and 12rh frets. If you listen closely you can hear it’s a pull off. Then he repeats all of this, and this is the whole beginning part. When the singing starts the riff remains the same, except he removes the chromatic lick, where he pulls off the 14th, 13th, and 12th frets on the 4th string. If you are enjoying this Alice Cooper classic be sure to check out our other video on how to play No More Mr. Nice Guy, also by Alice Cooper.
Next he starts with a C5, which is played with the pointer on the 6th string 3rd fret and the ring finger on the 5th string 5th fret. This pre-chorus has a nice driving rhythm that leads us to the chorus where he actually sings “School’s Out”. And you can’t learn how to play School’s Out for Summer without knowing that! He is playing an eighth note rhythm, and alternate picking, staying on C5 for a measure and a half, so 6 beats. Before moving to the 5th fret 5th string for two eighth notes. So strum a down and an up. To the 6th fret 5th string also strumming it for two eighth notes, a down and an up. Sitting on the 6th fret power chord for one complete measure of our strict eighth note rhythm
This goes straight into a choppy rhythm you can see at 3:06. Robert refers to it as a short stoppy part since the rhythm is so chopped up. There is a close up of his hand while he plays it, starting on the G5 strumming down down up down up, down up down to the 6th fret 6th string strumming down down up down to the 8th fret 6th string strumming down up down. Then he goes to the 1st fret 6th string and strums once, to the 3rd fret 6th string and strums once, these two chords follow the word “sum-mer” one strum on “sum” the other on “mer” Then he scratches the guitar strings while muting them, down up down up. Then we play the G5 power chord on the 3rd fret 6th string down up down up down down down. This is all followed by a walk down with chords. First an A Major bar chord on the 6th string, to a G Major 6th string, to an F# Major. So our roots go from the 5th fret 6th string to the 3rd fret 6th string, 1st fret 6th string. In between each of these chords is he plays the same unison bend. This is done by picking the 15th fret 2nd string, so that string is our bend, and then you also strum the 1st string with your pointer finger holding down the 12th fret 1st string. The are played together. So this happens between each chord in the walk down and hung out for a little extra time after the F# Major chord. Then the guitar fades out and comes back in from the solo.
The solo starts out with a big unison bend, just like he did in between the chords for the walk down. This solo is in the key of E minor and he is using the pattern minor pentatonic box shape 1. Robert walks you through this shape at 5:40. A quick rundown of this shape string by string is, 6th string 12th fret to 15, 5th string 12th fret to 14, 4th string 12th fret to 14, 3rd string 12th fret to 14, 2nd string 12th fret to 15, and 1st string 12th fret to 15. Robert demonstrates this scale to help paint a picture of where these solo notes come from. So starting with the same unison bend that was used in between the chords on the walkdown, ring finger on the 15th fret 2nd string bending, while his pointer is on the 12th fret 1st string staying put, but both strings are picked together, in unison. Then he picks the 15th fret and the 12th fret on the 2nd string, the 14th to 12th frets on the 3rd string, ending this phrase with a slower bend on the 14th fret 3rd string, meaning you hang on it longer. The next part is a bit tricky because you have to bar both the 1st and 2nd string 10th fret with your pointer and slide it back and forth to the 12th fret, six times, before walking down the neck barring both the 2nd and 1st string still, chromatically walking them down from the 12th fret to the 7th. So chromic means right next to one another, so he is going 12th fret to , 11, 10, 9, 8, and ending on 7. Then he slide up from the 10th fret to the 12th on the 2nd string and then he picks the 12th fret 1st string twice. Then he bends the 15th fret 1st string, then pulls off from the 15th fret to the 12th on the 1st string, then he picks the 15th fret 2nd string once and then the 12th fret 1st string once, to end the entire solo!
I hope you enjoyed Robert’s lesson explaining and demonstrating how to play School’s Out For Summer. This song isn’t too difficult and is really fun to play. The solo has a couple challenging parts that will push you a bit, but that’s a good thing! So remember to slow things down before you speed them up, pay attention to the scale shapes Robert demonstrates, and most importantly, have fun! That’s what playing guitar is all about.