Born to be Wild (Rhythm)

Animated Born to be Wild (Rhythm) tab by Steppenwolf on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This classic biker anthem is brilliant. Fun to play, with immortal riffs and lyrics to boot. This is the main rhythm guitar for the song, and be prepared to play a lot of E chords.

The intro / verse riff at the start kicks off with a full E major barre chord including the low open E. Notice that this chord is actually an A major barre chord shape - in other words, we move the 'open A shape' up to the 7th fret to give us an E major chord. This chord is played with 2 fingers - the 1st and 3rd. Just bar them across the frets as shown.

Don't be put off by the 1st finger muting. That is actually easy to do - just fret the 7th note on the A string and lay your finger flat across the rest of the strings, not too hard at the top E string. The aim is to lightly touch that string with your finger so that if you overstrum the chord, then the B note on the high E string will be muted out. Alternatively you can mute that high string with your 3rd finger in the same way. It won't matter too much if you play the note accidentally - it will still work fine with the music.

The Low E note is included in the strums, this adds a nice bassy E tone to the rest of the E major chord.

Notice the frequent muting between chord stabs. See also that the majority of chord stabs are upstrokes. The way to play this part is not instantly obvious. Once you do a chord stab, palm mute the strings with your strumming hand. Combining this with your fingers (also muting notes on the fretboard) will completely kill notes from your guitar. This means that your strumming hand is nearly constantly moving up and down. The difference is that for the muting parts palm mute the strings instead of striking them, and for the strums, strike the strings with fast chord stabs.
You can see how the strumming hand is constantly active during the next part, where instead of muting between stabs, this little rock riff is played using regular up / down strikes.

As you can hear, this method of strikes / muting gives a powerful rhythmic effect (and is the rhythm style for much of the song). Practice the first bar until you can get it right, then move on to the next part. Once you get the hang of it the rest of the song will be much easier to play.

The rest of the song uses very common chords, G major, A major, and occasionally D5. The 'unusual' chord encountered here is sometimes called the 'Hendrix' chord due to his extensive use of it in Purple Haze etc. It's an E7th #9th chord, and despite the scary name is quite common in classic rock songs from the late 60's and 70's. Notice that rhythmic strikes of the muted chords are included a lot for this chord here - in other words, regular down / upstrokes but don't palm mute the strings to totally kill the sound of the strings. This gives a nice funky rhythm effect.

There are two guitars parts in this song and both are recorded here. Both guitars trade lead licks, although this rhythm guitar part has fewer. The little lead licks are pretty easy (for both guitars), but will take practice to get in position and play fluidly.

In the rhythm guitar part there are 3 main lead licks:

1st lick - Play the low open E note, and use that brief window of time to manouvre your other fingers up to the 7th / 9th frets to play the little rock phrase / bend.

2nd lick - Again, use the beginning low E as a window to play the rest of the lick. this is the easiest of the 3 licks as it uses mostly open strings.

3rd lick - Same thing with the low E. The slide is simple in this lick, but make sure you use the right finger to do it, or you're likely to mess up the next note.

All licks are from the E pentatonic minor scale. The chord progression during this section of the song moves through G maj - A maj - E5 / lick (repeat). Where each lick is played, the other guitar is playing a low E powerchord behind it.

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