Learn to Play Smells Like Teen Spirit on Guitar – Chords & Tabs Included

How to play Smells Like Teen Spirit on Guitar?

Smells Like Teen Spirit is one of the iconic songs of the 90s grunge era and without a doubt, it is extremely fun to play it on guitar. All you need is an electric guitar, few power chords, and a distortion pedal. However, you can also play it on an acoustic guitar as well.

How To Play Smells Like Teen Spirit on Guitar

This lesson will teach you all the parts of this song step-by-step, including the main riff, the guitar solo, and the strumming section.

So, let us first look at the chords used in this song.

Power Chords

The song uses a lot of power chords, eight in total. All these chords are similar in shape and share the same fingerings, just they are played in different positions on the fretboard. I will show you where and how to use them but first take a look at the diagrams of these eight power chords.


The Main Riff

Below you can see the tab for the main riff of the song. It is a pretty easy riff and requires just four power chords to play: F5, Bb5, Ab5, and Db5. Follow the instruction below to get an idea of what is going on in this riff.


As you can see in the tab above, the first chord used in this riff is an F power chord that starts on the 1st fret of the 6th string. To hold it correctly, place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 6th string, ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string, and pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the 4th string.

Note: Here you have to make sure that the other three strings ( 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ) stay muted when you play the chords mentioned in this lesson. You can do that easily by slightly resting the bottom part of your index finger on top of these three strings ( watch the above video to get a clear idea ).

Now, you have to strum the F power chord three times ‘Down-Up-Down’ after that you have to do four muted strums ‘Down-Up-Down-Up’ and shift to the other chord which is a Bb power chord that starts on the 1st fret of the 5th string. Here you have to do two down strums while holding the chord and one down strum on the open strings.

Now, shift to the third chord which is an Ab power chord that starts on the fourth fret of the 6th string, and hit three down strums ( like you did in the F power chord ). After that hit, four muted strums and then shift to the next chord which is a Db5 power chord and play three down strums on it. That’s all, the main riff is done.

(This might sound confusing, so I highly recommend you to watch the video metioned above to get a clear idea)

Note: The intro riff and the chorus riff are the same, meaning, you will play this same riff in the chorus section as well.

Post Chorus


This section uses five power chords and they are F5, E5, F#5, Bb5, Ab5, and A5. Here you don’t have to worry about using your pinky finger since these are two-note power chords.

How to Play

Start off by holding the F power chord and hit two down strums then shift to the E power chord and do a single down strum then quickly move back to the F power chord and play one down strum.

Next you have to slide to the F# power chord, play two strums and then do a half step bend on the 3rd fret of the 3rd string.

After that again play two down strums on the F power chord, one down strum on the E power chord, and again one down strum on the F power chord. Now you have to slide up to the Bb power chord and play two strums then hit one down strum on Ab power chord and finally end by picking the open note of the 6th string.

Similarly you have to repeat the same thing in the next phrase. (Watch video for visual instruction)

Guitar Solo (Lead part)

The guitar solo is the easiest part of this song as it is slow-paced and hardly requires any advanced techniques. Since the key of this song is F minor, this solo is based on F minor scale. To master this guitar solo, start off by practicing it slowly with a metronome and gradually increase the speed to the original speed when you feel comfortable doing so.