Learn How to Play Thunderstruck: Tips for Beginners

When it comes to iconic rock songs, it’s hard to beat AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”. This powerhouse track has captivated audiences since its release in 1990, and it’s still a favorite among music lovers today. In this article, we’ll delve into the magic of playing “Thunderstruck” on your own.

Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or a newbie just starting out, there’s something incredibly satisfying about nailing those first few notes of “Thunderstruck”. We’ll guide you through the process, offering tips and tricks to help you master this classic rock anthem.

Stay tuned as we break down the chords, share the strumming pattern, and even give you a bit of the song’s history. By the end, you’ll be ready to rock out to “Thunderstruck” like a pro! Let’s get started, shall we?

Why “Thunderstruck” is an Iconic Rock Song

“Thunderstruck” isn’t just a song — it’s a rock anthem. Think about the first time you heard those unforgettable opening notes; it’s pretty safe to say, you were hooked. The song, released in 1990 by Australian rock band AC/DC, delivers a powerful surge of electrified rock that’s instantly recognizable and irrefutably infectious.

It’s not a surprise that people around the world, regardless of age or nationality, find a similarity in the pulse-pounding beats and the energy that this song brings. It’s a testament to AC/DC’s remarkable ability to bridge generational and cultural gap through their music, making “Thunderstruck” not just a hit, but a rock-music phenomenon.


It’s all about the impact this song had, and continues to have, on the world of rock music. AC/DC delivered a musical lightning bolt with “Thunderstruck” that continues to electrify audiences today. The song’s infectious energy surges through the listener and propels them into a world of unadulterated rock and roll, leaving a lasting impression.

Not to push aside the key element that made this song legendary, the guitar mastery exhibited. Angus Young’s blistering lead guitar riffs and the flawless rhythm guitar work mesh together to create a sound that’s as powerful as it is unique. Young’s crafty use of minor scales and string-bending techniques made “Thunderstruck” a benchmark for aspiring guitarists everywhere.

“Thunderstruck” found its way onto countless “best of” lists and remains a staple in AC/DC’s live sets. The song has been streamed millions of times on platforms like Spotify and YouTube, a stunning testament to its ongoing resonance with rock music fans around the globe.

Getting Started: Tips for Beginners

If you’re a budding guitarist looking to nail AC/DC’s rock anthem “Thunderstruck”, here’s a guide to the first steps taken by beginners to conquer this iconic track; these are tried-and-true methodologies that are no stranger to anyone in the rock universe.

First, start off by familiarizing yourself with the track. Listen to it on repeat as much as possible and try to absorb the rhythm, the tempo, and notably the iconic two-handed tapping guitar technique that lends the song its iconic electricity. It’s a unique style that requires deftness and precision.

Learning the basics is critical before attempting to play the song. The key to mastering “Thunderstruck” is in the basics like alternate picking and slides. If you’re not confident in these yet invest your time in mastering them. Without a strong foundation, it’s almost impossible to master the rift that makes “Thunderstruck” so legendary.

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Once you’ve nailed the basics, it’s time to learn the tune note by note. There are numerous tutorials and tabs available online that can guide you through this. Start slow, don’t rush. Remember to maintain a steady pace as you start – speed will naturally come with time.

Finally, always remember. Using a metronome is essential. Metronomes are simple timing devices that can assist you in maintaining the rhythm. Practicing with one can be incredibly beneficial as “Thunderstruck’s” rift is reliant on a strong sense of timing.

Incorporating these suggestions into your practice routine will undoubtedly help you on your journey to master “Thunderstruck”. Patience is vital, and the path to mastery is often a slow and steady one. Keep pushing, keep practicing. You’ll soon find yourself nailing the thunderous chords of “Thunderstruck”.

Breaking Down the Chords of “Thunderstruck”

One of the vital components of learning to play “Thunderstruck” is understanding the song’s chord structure. It’s not as complex as it might seem at first – the song primarily revolves around two chords: B and E.

The first chord, B, falls into the key of E minor. It’s the first chord you’ll strike in the song’s iconic opening. Pay close attention to getting the fret and timing just right. For those who are comfortable with power chords (everyone should be, by this point), it’s the 5th string/2nd fret, followed by 4th string/4th fret.

The second chord, E, is the next sequentially played, and the true backbone of this track. When playing “Thunderstruck”, you’ll repeat this chord throughout the majority of the song.

Getting the fingering and timing correct with these two chords is crucial. As they’re repeated consistently throughout the soundtrack, you’ll want to be comfortable transitioning quickly and smoothly between them. With this in mind, one advisable strategy can be:

  • Start slow: Nail down the correct positions first
  • Gradually increase your speed: As comfort builds up, increase the pace while maintaining accuracy
  • Use metronome: Timing can make or break your practice. Use a metronome or a music app to keep time, gradually adjusting the beats per minute

While these two chords form the foundational structure of “Thunderstruck”, in certain sections of the song, the spectrum widens – bringing in more nuanced and complicated chords. These include the D/A, F#(9), and B(9) chords – each played at specific points to maintain the song’s rhythm and intensity.

Remember, while the chords of “Thunderstruck” may seem intimidating at first, breaking them down and practicing consistently brings clarity and skill. And most importantly – it’s about having fun doing it.

Mastering the Strumming Pattern

To play “Thunderstruck” with authenticity, you’ll need to nail the strumming pattern. The song’s heart-thumping rhythm and powerful beat are what set it apart from others. It requires a methodical approach to strumming that is rather unique to AC/DC’s iconic style.

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Beginners should start slow, focusing on the rhythm and gradually speeding up. It’s not about fast strumming, it’s about precise timing. Timing is the golden key here. From rhythmic variations to subtle accents, every small detail counts. These are what breathe life into the rhythm guitar part and make “Thunderstruck” such a stand out.

Understanding the strumming direction is vitally important. For parts of the song using open chords, try a mixture of down and up strums. The key is to alternate between these two to maintain momentum and energy. There is a finesse in the strumming that should not be ignored.

It’s also critical to practice strumming without hitting every string. This technique is often used in rock music, particularly AC/DC. They’ve mastered the art of only hitting the strings that matter, giving their music a raw, energetic feel.

Manipulating Strumming Velocity

Manipulating the strumming velocity is another unique feature to consider while learning to play “Thunderstruck”. Place emphasis on certain parts of the beat to create a driving feel. It’s not always necessary to maintain the same velocity throughout.

Getting comfortable with these techniques may take some time. Each session is progress made, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first. Don’t get discouraged and remember, practice makes perfect. Let the chords and rhythm be your constant guide, follow it meticulously.

Engaging with a fellow guitarist who is more experienced can also be beneficial. They can provide feedback and guidance, and it’s often more fun to learn with someone else.

The History Behind “Thunderstruck”

To gain further insights into playing “Thunderstruck”, it’s beneficial to know the history behind this iconic rock anthem. This hit track was the first song on AC/DC’s 1990 album, “The Razors Edge”. It’s believed to be inspired by a real-life thunderstorm the lead guitarist, Angus Young, experienced while in an airplane.

This legendary Australian band had already been making waves in the music industry for over 15 years before the release of “Thunderstruck”. They had honed a signature style characterized by hard-hitting, high-voltage rock. “Thunderstruck”, which captured the essence of this style, catapulted them to new heights of recognition.

Few listeners might be aware that the song’s iconic intro was a result of Angus Young’s experiment with his guitar. Young – known for his schoolboy-onstage attire and electrifying performances – developed a unique finger tapping technique for this track. This technique became a defining feature of “Thunderstruck”, showcasing Young’s talent in a spectacular fashion.

In case you’ve ever wondered why “Thunderstruck” sounds so aggressive and charged, it’s because of the innovative tuning used. Standard E tuning is used in this song, which creates a raw, aggressive sound that aligns perfectly with the thunderstorm theme.

An interesting tidbit about the song is in the name itself, “Thunderstruck”. Band member, Malcolm Young, revealed in an interview that the name came from a childhood memory. As a young boy, he’d been genuinely thunderstruck when he first heard the sound of an electric guitar. That powerful memory resonated within him, leading to the selection of “Thunderstruck” as the title.

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Understanding the history and inspiration behind “Thunderstruck” can create a stronger connection to the track. It provides incredible context and serves to underscore the importance of true artistic expression in music. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll bring a new dimension to your rendition of this timeless rock anthem.


Mastering “Thunderstruck” is no small feat. It’s a journey that requires commitment to learning the track note by note and understanding the unique guitar techniques that make this rock anthem iconic. It’s about appreciating the history and inspiration behind the song, and bringing that connection into your rendition. It’s not just about mastering the B and E chords, but also about nailing the timing, transitioning, and the more nuanced chords. It’s about using a metronome to keep rhythm, and experimenting with the standard E tuning to create an aggressive sound. So, if you’re a beginner wanting to play “Thunderstruck”, remember it’s a process. With patience, practice, and a deep understanding of the song, you’ll be able to bring your own dimension to this timeless rock anthem. Keep rocking and let the thunder roll!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the tips for beginners to play “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC?

A: Tips for beginners to play “Thunderstruck” include familiarizing oneself with the track, mastering alternate picking and slides, learning the tune note by note, and using a metronome for rhythm.

Q: What is the importance of understanding the chord structure of “Thunderstruck”?

A: Understanding the chord structure, especially the B and E chords, is crucial as they form the foundation of the song. Tips on fingering, timing, and transitioning between these chords will be helpful.

Q: Are there any other complicated chords used in “Thunderstruck”?

A: Yes, there are other nuanced and complicated chords used in certain sections of the song. The article provides guidance on how to approach and play these chords.

Q: Can you provide information about the history and inspiration behind “Thunderstruck”?

A: “Thunderstruck” was created through experimentation with guitar techniques by lead guitarist Angus Young. The use of standard E tuning helps create the aggressive sound the song is known for.

Q: Why is understanding the history and inspiration behind the song important?

A: Understanding the history and inspiration behind “Thunderstruck” can give a deeper understanding of the track and add a new dimension to one’s rendition of this timeless rock anthem.

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