Guitar lesson for

About a Girl

by Nirvana  •  Lesson #104

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play the unplugged (acoustic) version of “About a Girl” by Nirvana. This tutorial includes chords, tabs, strumming pattern, and explains how to play the riff heard between verses. Nirvana’s unplugged in NY album was one of my favorites from my middle school years (1993-1995) – and I always preferred the acoustic Nirvana sound to that of their proper studio albums. This is the opening track to their unplugged album, and of course you can find the original version on their first album “Bleach”.

Tuning FYI

Note, you’ll need to tune down 1/2 step if you want to play along with Nirvana’s version (they’re using E-flat tuning). I decided to use standard tuning in my video lesson above. Take note of this in case you want to play along with Nirvana.

Chord progressions

For every chord listed below, play two counts (e.g., 2 counts of E-minor, then 2 counts of G-major).

INTRO         Em    G    x4

VERSE        "I need an easy friend..."
              Em    G    x4

CHORUS       "I'll take advantage while..."
              C#    C#/G#  F#    F#   x2

             "But I can't see you every night..."
              Em    Em     A     C    x1

             "Free..."
              Em    G    x4

How to play the chords

E –––0–––––3––––––––––––––––––(2)–––(0)–––(0)––––
B –––0–––––0––––(6)––––(6)––––(2)–––(2)–––(1)––––
G –––0–––––0–––––6––––––6–––––(3)––––2–––––0–––––
D –––2–––––0–––––6––––––6––––––4–––––2–––––2–––––
A –––2–––––2–––––4––––––x––––––4–––––0–––––3–––––
E –––0–––––3––––––––––––4––––––2–––––––––––––––––
     Em    G     C#   C#/G#    F#    A     C

Strumming the Em and G

Most of the song uses this simple progression. Broadly, this is what you’ll want to play:

"I need an easy friend..."

E –––0–––––––––––3––––––––––––
B –––0–––––––––––0––––––––––––
G –––0–––––––––––0––––––––––––
D –––2–––––––––––0––––––––––––    ...repeat
A –––2–––––––––––2––––––––––––
E –––0–––––––––––3––––––––––––
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑   
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
     Em          G

And if you want to get precise with your strumming, follow these tabs. If you can emphasize the highest note in each strum to give bit of melodic suggestion to your playing.

E –––––––––0––––––––3––3––3–––
B –––––––––0––0–––––0––0––0–––
G –––––––––0––0–––––0––0––0–––
D –––2––––––––2––––––––0––––––    ...repeat
A –––2–––––––––––––––––2––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––3––––––
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑   
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
     Em          G

Spicing up the F#

In the refrain/chorus section of the song, here’s a tab. You’ll either need to use barre chords or power chords (the latter being much easier – only focus on the bottom 2 or 3 strings). Note on the F#, the second time I pay it I like to remove my fingers from the thinnest two strings. This creates a nice dissonant sound that seems to match what you hear in the Nirvana version.

"Take advantage while..."

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––(2)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
B ––(6)–––––––––(6)–––––––––(2)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
G –––6–––––––––––6––––––––––(3)––––––(3)–––––––––––––
D –––6–––––––––––6–––––––––––4––––––––4––––––––––––––
A –––4–––––––––––x–––––––––––4––––––––4––––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––4–––––––––––2––––––––2––––––––––––––
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
     ↓     ↓  ↑  ↓     ↓  ↑  ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑
     C#          C#/G#       F#

Transitioning from Em to A to C

For this section, I like to focus on the bassiest 3-4 strings only, to give a deep and raw sound.

"But I can't see you every night..."

E ––(0)–––––––––––––––––––––(0)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
B ––(0)–––––––––––––––––––––(2)––––––(1)–––––––––––––
G ––(0)––––––––––––––––––––––2––––––––0––––––––––––––
D –––2–––––––––––––––––––––––2––––––––2––––––––––––––
A –––2–––––––––––––––––––––––0––––––––3––––––––––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑  ↓  ↑     ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑
     Em                      A        C

The riff

Finally, the riff. This can be played on top of the Em-G progression. The piece of advice I’d give here is that you can see the suggestion of the E and G powerchords, via (x 7 9 9 x x) and (x 10 12 12 x x) in the second half of this tab. This isn’t need-to-know information, but it makes playing it a bit easier in my opinion.

E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G –––––––––––––––––7/9––––9–––––––––/12––––12––––––––
D ––––––––––––5–7––7/9––––9–––––––––/12––––12––––––––
A –––––––5–7–––––––––––––(7)––––––––––––––(10)–––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Good luck!

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