- Fast plucking
- Power chords
- Unison bends
Today, we’ll be learning Ace of Spades, a fast-paced, energetic song by Motörhead. Structurally, the song is super simple, since there are 4 main parts to it, which are played in a specific order. But technically, Ace of Spades is pretty difficult, due to the speed at which it is played (285 BPM). If you can master this song, you are well on your way to becoming an advanced guitarist.
With fast songs like this, it’s important to start learning it slowly. There is no use in rushing things, you’ll just end up playing it sloppy. Take your time, and speed things up at your own pace.
The original version of the song is played on a guitar, where all the strings are tuned down by 1 semitone. It makes the guitar sound more dense and thick.
In our guitar lesson on Ace of Spades, we’ll be learning everything in standard tuning. The downloadable backing track is in standard tuning as well, so you can play along with that without having to re-tune all of your strings. Of course, if you want to play along with the original, you will have to tune all of your strings down by a half step.
The initial intro in the song is actually played on an overdriven bass guitar, we won’t learn that, since we can’t go that low in pitch on a regular guitar. We’ll start a few measures into the song by learning to play the main electric guitar riff, so characteristic of Ace of Spades.
It's not easy, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- You’ll need to pay careful attention to your rhythm, that is key. Listen to me several times, or listen to the original, and you’ll pick it up quickly.
- Make sure you use alternate plucking, as I demonstrate in the video. It helps in keeping rhythm as well.
- Skipping between strings at fast speed is not easy, so start out slow, you’ll speed up naturally.
- Remember to tilt your pick, so it slides over the strings easier.
Next, we’ll learn to play the fill riff, where we’ll be bending 2 strings at once with 1 finger. Yes, you heard it right. Playing this is, in fact, quite an accomplishment, so don’t stress about it too much if you can’t do it just yet. Practice it every day, until you get comfortable with it. As a side note, this fill riff is actually played on the E minor pentatonic scale.
We’ll also learn to play a few power chords during the lesson, which is the simplest part of the song. Mind your rhythm my young Padawan.
Next, we’ll move into the bridge that leads us into the solo, but sorry, we won’t be learning to play the solo to Ace of Spades note for note. If you are at the level where you can play it, you really don’t need me showing you how. I tabbed it out for you though just in case, it uses notes from the A minor pentatonic scale.
At the end of the lesson, we’ll be learning a fairly simple (but fast) outro, as well as 2 ending riffs.
Ace of Spades song details
Ace of Spades was released by the English rock band Motörhead, in 1980. It was initially released as a single. In 2009, VH1 named it the 10th greatest hard rock song of all time.
The song peaked at no. 15 on the UK charts upon its release and has since regained its popularity due to the numerous covers, and use in several Guitar Hero games.
Download tabs for Ace of Spades
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Download backing track for Ace of Spades
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