How to Play Break On Through On Guitar
In this video I am going to show you how to play Break On through on Guitar. This awesome Doors song has a few really catchy parts. Today I will focus on the main riff I would also call this the intro/verse and the chorus.
Step 1: Dissecting the Main Riff
The first step in learning how to play Break on Through on guitar is to breakdown the intro. Remember I consider this to be the main riff in the song, meaning it stands out the most and probably is the riff you heard and identify this song with. In this song the main riff is also the intro and the verse. The only difference between when you play this riff as the intro and when you play it as the verse is that the intro starts off with a slide and the verse doesn’t. So for the intro I am starting at the 6th string 12th fret using my middle finger and I pick down and slide. To slide means I am keeping the pressure down for the note I picked and not releasing it while I move across other strings until I get to the note I want. In this case we slide to nothing really, so just sliding from the 12th fret down toward the headstock of the guitar and off of the fretboard. So you move it almost like someone pushed your finger, keeping the pressure down the whole time. So remember this slide only happens at the intro, every other time we will just be picking an open 6th string because that is how the riff starts.
So the intro starts with the slide from the 6th string 12th fret to the open 6th string. Then I use my middle finger to pick the 4th string 2nd fret. Pick this note once and then pick the 4th string open. So I am going to go between the 5th and 4th strings all on the Then I to the 5th string 2nd fret, mixing the 2nd fret and the open strings. Starting this part by picking the 5th string 2nd fret with my middle finger. Then straight back down to the 4th string 2nd fret, also with my middle finger, and pick this note twice. Now back to the 5th string 2nd fret and end with an open 5th string to the 5th string 2nd fret. So I used only my middle finger for this whole riff. Remember, the very first time we play this riff it starts with a slide, but every other time it starts with an open 6th string. At about the 2:40 mark you can see me play this riff twice in a row to see the different ways I start the riff off when repeating, not with the slide like the intro. If you are enjoying this simple but classic riff, make sure to check out my lesson on how to play Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones for another easy, classic riff to add to your repertoire. If you want to when you slide make sure you emphasize the open note right after, or make sure you get a really strong pull off.
Step 2: The Chorus
Now for the chorus! Mixing chords and an awesome lick. We start with a D5 power chord. Pointer on the 5th string 5th fret, ring finger on the 4th string 7th fret, and pinky right under on the 3rd string 7th fret. Strum only strings 5 through 3 unless you are muting 6, 2, and 1. So I strum just the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings and in between strums I slap my picking hand against the guitar strings, above the pickups to mute the guitar. I do this twice, muting the guitar in between each strum.
After the chords we have this single note part we play right after. More of a lead/melody. The first two times are the same and the third is almost the same, but stops a little short in comparison to the others. So finger wise, I’m using my 1st finger for the 1st fret, my 2nd finger for the 2nd fret, my 3rd finger for the 3rd fret, and my pinky for the 4th fret. This is called a finger per fret. I do this to play this riff as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
So this part starts with an open 6th string and then using my ring finger to pick the 3rd fret 6th string. Then I pick the 5th string open and then play the 1st fret 5th string with my 1st finger and the 2nd fret 5th string with my 2nd finger. Then I pick those same frets but now on the 4th string, so open 4th string and then 4th string 1st fret with my pointer and then 4th string 2nd fret with my middle finger. When I get to the 3rd string I now pick this string open, then I place my middle finger down on the 2nd fret 3rd string and pick it once and then back to picking the 3rd string open. I do that movement as a hammer on/pull off, so one pick with my picking hand and then I use my middle finger on my fretting hand to attack the 2nd fret, which would be the hammer one, and I also use it to pull the string off to zero which would be the pull off. After this I go to the 4th string and pick the 2nd fret, then I pick the open 4th string and then end by picking the 4th string 2nd fret once more. Now repeat all of this twice in a row, exactly the same. However, for the last time we do almost the same exact thing but cut it a little short. The only difference is at the end when we go to the 4th string to play that very last phrase, the 4th string 2nd fret, to the open 4th string, back to the 4th string 2nd fret. This last time we just play the 4th string 2nd fret once and that’s it! So two times all the way through and the last time through, the third time, we just stop on the 4th string 2nd fret.
Recap: How to Play Break on Through on Guitar
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play Break on Through on guitar. Remember that these parts aren’t crazy difficult but do require some attention to detail, so slow them down and make sure you are paying attention to which fingers you use and practice playing these parts slow first and then fast. And of course, as always, have fun!