5 Guitar Techniques You Need to Know to Play ‘Back in Black’

Tackling your favorite rock and metal songs when learning guitar can be intimidating. But with Fret Zealot, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve covered how Fret Zealot is an all-encompassing guitar instruction tool that blows traditional guitar lessons out of the water. Especially with its state-of-the-art physical LED addition for your guitar.

But on top of that, Fret Zealot’s intuitive database of song lessons for guitar can have you playing your favorite songs just like the pros.

It’s no joke, but you don’t have to take our word for it. See a demo video of Fret Zealot’s guitar lessons near the bottom of this post. And comb through our list of five guitar techniques you need in your arsenal before crushing “Back in Black” the way AC/DC‘s Angus Young plays it.

The classic song is just one of many video lessons Fret Zealot provides, and it teaches you the tune all the way through. Fret Zealot’s video lesson on “Black in Black” is the only tool you’ll need — besides guitar and gear! — to nail how Young plays it.

Before you watch the demo below, let’s touch on five guitar skills you need to play “Black in Black.”

‘Back in Black’ guitar lesson

YouTube: Fret Zealot

Muting Between Open Chords

To start with the basics, you should know how to silence your guitar strings between chords to play “Back in Black.” The iconic intro may seem simple at the start — it’s just the first-position chords for E, D and A. But to make it sound like AC/DC, you need to get those chords pretty choppy by immediately muting all the strings between each chord.

Most guitarists use the palm of their hand to stop the sound. Similar to how one would palm-mute down at the bridge (with the notes still slightly sounding) to attain that classic metal chug.

Here, though, you want each of those first three chords tamped down almost as soon as you play them. Lessons from Fret Zealot (and the Fret Zealot LED add-on) will show you how to do this in a fun, interesting and (most importantly) correct way.

String Bending

After those first three chords, it’s all about that memorable single-note guitar run that punctuates the end of the first half of the intro riff. And you can’t make it sound like AC/DC without nailing the string bend that comes at the end of that flourish.

String bending is when you fret a stringed not and move your finger up or down within the fret (while still sounding the note) to attain a slight fluctuation in pitch. That’s putting it in dry terms, of course. Talented guitarists do it very tastefully. Case in point, Angus Young!

J.Alberto Sandoval

Photo by J.Alberto Sandoval

Finger Stretching

Unsurprisingly, guitar cover versions of “Back in Black” are plentiful — a cursory YouTube search will give you a good idea. But the guitar riffs in this song, which may sound simple at first blush, are peppered with deceivingly complex techniques. And this is where many guitarists get it wrong.

Your fretting hand needs to have reach. One of the most daunting runs is at the end of the intro, when the riff climbs up the fretboard with quick, alternating notes between the bottom E and A string. It forces your fingers to an uncomfortable limit when you finish by sounding the second fret on the A string, followed by the seventh fret on E string, which is the same note. Might want to stretch your hand before playing!

Switching Between Open + Power Chords

This one may seem easy, but it’s actually not so simple to get the flow right when switching between open chords (all strings sounding) and power chords (two-note chords, usually with just two or three strings). And “Back in Black” does this the whole time.

Watch Fret Zealot’s “Back in Black” lesson to get an up-close look at how to effectively execute the move. In no time, you’ll get the knack for when to strum all the strings, versus when to only hit a couple.

Fret Zealot

Photo by J. Alberto Sandoval

Downpicking

Get that wrist ready! It’s all about the downpick (or downstroke) in the chorus of “Back in Black” — to make those ringing chords really sing. This might be a tip that more advanced guitarists don’t need to hear. Still, it’s easy to forget the stamina your wrist needs to have to get through a song, especially when there’s a section that requires only downstrokes.

Angus Young, of course, is a master of the downstroke. And when the chorus hits in “Back in Black,” you understand why. It gives each chord a defined attack as the notes ring out under the vocal.

AC/DC, “Back in Black” – Fret Zealot Song Lesson Demo

How Does Fret Zealot Work?

The Fret Zealot LED strip fits just above the frets on a guitar. And it shows the guitarist exactly where to put their fingers to play. After playing a note, the Fret Zealot app detects the sound and lights up where the fingers go next.

Made to universally fit all guitars with standard scale lengths of 24.75″ and 25.5″, the system is as simple in installation as it is genius in scope. And both versions are compatible with right and left-handed instruments using the same installation process.

How Much Does Fret Zealot Cost?

Fret Zealot for Guitar is now $199.99 at fretzealot.com. That includes the LED strip and all the lessons you need to get you rocking. Fret Zealot also comes in a ukulele version for $139.99.

If you tried learning guitar in the past but it never clicked, or you didn’t have time for traditional lessons, Fret Zealot can help. You can learn on your own time, at your own pace. It’s also a little easier on the wallet and your schedule than most in-person guitar teachers. So quit making excuses and start learning to play guitar like you never have! The rock is at your fingertips…

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