What’s going on, everybody? Sean Daniel with Guitar Control here. Today, we’re learning a classic song that can be enjoyed either ironically or legitimately. It is Take on Me by A-ha, and we’re going to do an acoustic version. We’re going to talk about the riff, which is one of the all-time nasty, fun riffs to play, and also the chords, so make sure you click the link below, because we have the chords and stuff for you to follow along with. And it is important to note that the capo is on the second fret in this version, okay?
First of all, we’re just going to learn the chords, and then we’re going to learn the riff, because they really interact, and it’s also a really great lesson in seeing how riffs are made, and that they come from chords anyways, all right? The verse of the song sounds like this. Then, the super famous riff sounds like this. It’s really hard to play that without kind of smiling. All-time classic. It even works on an acoustic guitar, right?
So, real quick again, chords with the capo are A minor, pointer finger, first fret on the B string relative to the capo, ring finger second fret on the G string, middle finger second fret on the D string. Open A and open E. Highest five strings, so in reality, this would be a B minor chord, but because there’s a capo on there, A minor. That’s going to be essentially what the rhythm of it… It’s going to be like… Down, down-up, up-down-up, just like that.
From there, we’re going to go to a D chord, second fret on the high E string, third fret on the B string, pointer finger second fret on the G string, same strumming pattern. From here, we can go to a G major chord. Now, I want to use this G major chord, with your pinky on the third fret of the high E string, your ring finger the third fret of the B string, pointer finger second fret of the A string, middle finger third fret of the low E string. Now, there’s a reason that we’re using this one, and it’s because of the melody of the riff, okay?
We’re going to get there in just a second, but we’re going to use this G major, same thing, and then the fourth chord of the progression is a C major, but it gets split with a descending base note, like this. So it’s kind of like a C major, ring finger third fret of the A string, middle finger second fret of the D string, open G, pointer finger first fret of the B string, and then we’re going to take the root out, and halfway through the bar, we’re going to switch it to the second fret, which is a B, okay? That’s going to lead us back to A minor, so the whole chord progression for the verse is going to be…
Now, let’s talk about the riff, because the riff comes from these chords. Remember, the first chord is the A minor. Now, if we play the highest three strings of A minor backwards, that’s actually the beginning of the riff, open on the E string. We play the open E string twice, the B string first fret once, and then the second fret of the G string. So it comes from this A minor chord. Now, after that, we go… Okay? We have three, three, three, all on the B string, high E string, two, two, three, five, again, relative to the capo, so part one is… part two…
And I think it’s important to break these into four parts, just like you broke the progression into four different chords, because each of these parts goes with a chord. That’s how these melodies were written. That’s how the accompanying chords were chosen. If we look at the notes here, we have a D, D, D, F#, G, A. Now, again, relative to the capo. Technically, those are different notes, but these three notes make up a D major chord, which is these notes go over the D part in it.
So we have the A minor part, we have the D major part, then we have the next chord is a G major, so the melodies are going to be a… Three, three, three, three B, one B. Now, you probably have noticed that that note isn’t in a G major chord, but it is in a C chord, so that’s where we transition to that next chord, so three, three, three on the high E string, three B, one B, and this is going to be kind of over the C to B walk, E, E, E, three B, open E, three B. So all together, just for the riff… And again, that goes with… And then you can actually repeat it.
Now, if you want to get a little bit more advanced, you can start incorporating the melody into the chords. What I mean by that is like let’s just take the first part of it as an example, the… We can try to accentuate finding those notes within that chord, so right there, you can kind of hear the note on top. That’s just like a very exaggerated way of doing it, where when I’m strumming the chord, when I want to hear that note, I’m going to end the chord on the highest note. When I want to hear the first fret of the B string, I’m going to stop the strum on the B string. When I want to hear just this note in the melody, I’m going to stop it on the G string. So you can kind of hear a little bit of the… just by really shortening the length of your pick, right? Or your stroke.
So, that’s the verse, chord progression, and the riff combined. Now, there’s one more chord progression, but there’s also kind of like a variation I want to talk about, and it sounds like this. Really simple strumming. The chords are really easy to remember, G, to D. Now, I’ve played it two different ways, because eventually, we’re going to go to E minor and C. We’ve seen all these chords before, but now they’re in a different order, G, D, E minor, C. Now, you may have noticed the first time I played that, I played the D major two different ways. The first time, I did it the regular way we did it. The second time, I did it like this, G, D, E minor, C.
Now, the reason I do that is because whenever we have a G, and a D, and an E minor in a progression, which you’re going to see a lot in the chords in the key of G, you can do this thing where you play the low inversion D major, where it’s kind of the same thing, but instead of having the high E string second fret, we have the low E string second fret. What that does is it thickens the sound of a D major chord, and also, since we’re going to E minor, if we just track the root notes of those chords, we end up with a G, F#, E, which kind of like in the verse, when we have the A minor, D, G, we have that descending bassline, from the C over the B back to A.
We can kind of do the same thing, but now with a G, a D inversion, E minor. Again, inversion is just where you play a chord, but the root note is not the base note, okay? Usually, the root note in a D major chord is D, right? We can play a different note in that chord, but play it in the base note, and that’s what makes it an inversion, G major, D, E, and then followed up with C.
Okay, so I think, thinking of the base notes as just descending all the way to C is a great way to just memorize the chord progression, because really, the chords and the base notes are helping you kind of drive it in a certain way, because if you’re like, “Okay, I’m in the chorus. I know it starts with a G, and then there’s a D.” Well, it’s like, “Where does it go next? I can tell that these base notes are leading me to the next chord, E minor, C.” So again, those chord progressions, back to back, A minor, D, G, C (singing). If it’s the last one, A minor, E minor, C. Then we have the chorus, which is walking you down to E minor, and then to C.
Then really, you can go back to the verse from there. You can end the song, resolve it however you want. Make sure you click that link below to grab the chords, because it also goes over the bridge. Again, this is more of a singer-songwriter version of it, so we’re not going to cover any of the instrumental bridge parts of it, just the main riff, all the chords and strumming that you need to just go rock this out. Then again, make sure you do yourself a favor, walk down memory lane, watch the music video, iconic music video. Check that out.
Then after you’re done, check out other videos on the Guitar Control channel, by myself and other great instructors, and leave some feedback in the comment section about what you want to see more of, what you thought of this lesson, and what you think in general, and just your thoughts on life, how you’re feeling today, and we’ll get back to you, because we love you, so thanks for checking it out. Talk to you soon.
– Click here to get Sean Daniel’s Secrets of Hendrix: DECODED – GO!!