Learn George Harrison’s classic riff and other lead guitar parts from Day Tripper. The catchy blues-like riff that starts the song is a fun one to play and will teach you a little technique no matter your skill level.
Catch up with the previous lesson which covers the rhythm parts here: https://youtu.be/AvpeLP6X-DY
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In the last lesson in this series we went over the rhythm parts as played by John Lennon on the original recording of Day Tripper. In this lesson we are going to take a close look at the lead guitar parts played by George Harrison.
The song opens with the signature riff played over the E7 chord. Starting with open E we then play the notes at frets 3 and 4 on the E string then across the 5th and 4th strings at fret 2 like this then open D string. So that first part again... This is followed with the second fret on the A string again up to fret 4 on the D string, back to fret 2 on the A string, then open D followed by the note at fret 2 on the D string.
You may like to pause the video here and practice that from the tab for a bit.
Once you have learned to finger the correct sequence of notes, you may need to do a bit of work on the exact timing. Here I have indicated the timing in two different ways – relative to the beats to the bar and in terms of picking direction – D for down and U for Up. The lowercase letters in brackets show where you should move the pick without hitting the string. Once you have learned this riff well, you will have no difficulty with the riff that is played over the change to A7 in each verse… which is exactly the same fingering moved across one string.
Once you have got those two riffs down, you have covered all the lead guitar parts for the intro and verses. In the choruses, George joined in with the rhythm. So it just remains to cover the lead over the instrumental break which, you may remember, is played over a B or B7 chord.
If you listen very carefully you can hear an overdub, played by George I am fairly sure, which simply plays its way up the notes of the E major scale. We can do this from B at fret 2 on the A string C# fret 4, D# fret 1 on the D string, E at fret 2, F# at fret 4, G# fret 1 on the G string, A at fret 2, B at fret 4, C# fret 2 on the 2nd string, D# at fret 4, E at fret 5 and finally F# at fret 2 – each note played from the second beat of the bar – 1 2 3 4, 1 2 34 and so on.
For me, it is the mark of great musicianship to play something that simple, but which is so effective at helping the way this instrumental section builds.
In the main take, George joins in to play the main riff three times. This is the same as the E7 and A7 riffs, but to transpose it up to B7 we have to finger it differently. This is my preferred way to play it. I like this because it is a way to practice a fully movable version of the lick, and this can be useful should you ever suddenly be asked to play this song in a key other than E. However, I think it likely that George more likely played it off the B note at fret 2 on the A string.
It little matters which way you decide to approach playing this riff in B, but my advice is to settle on the way that comes easiest to you and stick with that.
After 3 times through the riff George waits out a couple of beats before coming in with these three licks.
I hope you enjoy learning this cleverly modified Blues tune. It amazes me that after more than half a century, The Beatles are still frequently underrated in terms of their musicianship and creative flair – I guess they were victims of their own success and so many details of their work got drowned out by the sound of thousands of screaming teenage girls!