About a Girl

by Nirvana • Lesson #104 • Oct 19, 2017

Video lesson

Song Sheet Temporarily Unavailable...

For copyright reasons, my printable song sheet is temporarily unavailable while I move it over to Musicnotes.com, a sheet music service that is providing licensing for my song arrangements.

Want me to priortize this song, so the song sheet is ready sooner? Click the button below and let me know – this helps me know which songs to work on next!

Click to Request

Learn more about my library of song sheets & instructional PDFs.

Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play the unplugged (acoustic) version of “About a Girl” by Nirvana. This tutorial includes chords, tabs, strumming pattern, and explains how to play the riff heard between verses. Nirvana’s unplugged in NY album was one of my favorites from my middle school years (1993-1995) – and I always preferred the acoustic Nirvana sound to that of their proper studio albums. This is the opening track to their unplugged album, and of course you can find the original version on their first album “Bleach”.

Tuning FYI

Note, you’ll need to tune down 1/2 step if you want to play along with Nirvana’s version (they’re using E-flat tuning). I decided to use standard tuning in my video lesson above. Take note of this in case you want to play along with Nirvana.

Chord progressions

For every chord listed below, play two counts (e.g., 2 counts of E-minor, then 2 counts of G-major).

INTRO         Em    G    x4

VERSE        "I need an easy friend..."
              Em    G    x4

CHORUS       "I'll take advantage while..."
              C#    C#/G#  F#    F#   x2

             "But I can't see you every night..."
              Em    Em     A     C    x1

             "Free..."
              Em    G    x4

How to play the chords

E –––0–––––3––––––––––––––––––(2)–––(0)–––(0)––––
B –––0–––––0––––(6)––––(6)––––(2)–––(2)–––(1)––––
G –––0–––––0–––––6––––––6–––––(3)––––2–––––0–––––
D –––2–––––0–––––6––––––6––––––4–––––2–––––2–––––
A –––2–––––2–––––4––––––x––––––4–––––0–––––3–––––
E –––0–––––3––––––––––––4––––––2–––––––––––––––––
     Em    G     C#   C#/G#    F#    A     C

Strumming the Em and G

Most of the song uses this simple progression. Broadly, this is what you’ll want to play:

"I need an easy friend..."

E –––0–––––––––––3––––––––––––
B –––0–––––––––––0––––––––––––
G –––0–––––––––––0––––––––––––
D –––2–––––––––––0––––––––––––    ...repeat
A –––2–––––––––––2––––––––––––
E –––0–––––––––––3––––––––––––
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑   
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
     Em          G

And if you want to get precise with your strumming, follow these tabs. If you can emphasize the highest note in each strum to give bit of melodic suggestion to your playing.

E –––––––––0––––––––3––3––3–––
B –––––––––0––0–––––0––0––0–––
G –––––––––0––0–––––0––0––0–––
D –––2––––––––2––––––––0––––––    ...repeat
A –––2–––––––––––––––––2––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––3––––––
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑   
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
     Em          G

Spicing up the F#

In the refrain/chorus section of the song, here’s a tab. You’ll either need to use barre chords or power chords (the latter being much easier – only focus on the bottom 2 or 3 strings). Note on the F#, the second time I pay it I like to remove my fingers from the thinnest two strings. This creates a nice dissonant sound that seems to match what you hear in the Nirvana version.

"Take advantage while..."

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––(2)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
B ––(6)–––––––––(6)–––––––––(2)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
G –––6–––––––––––6––––––––––(3)––––––(3)–––––––––––––
D –––6–––––––––––6–––––––––––4––––––––4––––––––––––––
A –––4–––––––––––x–––––––––––4––––––––4––––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––4–––––––––––2––––––––2––––––––––––––
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
     ↓     ↓  ↑  ↓     ↓  ↑  ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑
     C#          C#/G#       F#

Transitioning from Em to A to C

For this section, I like to focus on the bassiest 3-4 strings only, to give a deep and raw sound.

"But I can't see you every night..."

E ––(0)–––––––––––––––––––––(0)––––––(0)–––––––––––––
B ––(0)–––––––––––––––––––––(2)––––––(1)–––––––––––––
G ––(0)––––––––––––––––––––––2––––––––0––––––––––––––
D –––2–––––––––––––––––––––––2––––––––2––––––––––––––
A –––2–––––––––––––––––––––––0––––––––3––––––––––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  
     ↓     ↓  ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑  ↓  ↑     ↑     ↑  ↓  ↑
     Em                      A        C

The riff

Finally, the riff. This can be played on top of the Em-G progression. The piece of advice I’d give here is that you can see the suggestion of the E and G powerchords, via (x 7 9 9 x x) and (x 10 12 12 x x) in the second half of this tab. This isn’t need-to-know information, but it makes playing it a bit easier in my opinion.

E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G –––––––––––––––––7/9––––9–––––––––/12––––12––––––––
D ––––––––––––5–7––7/9––––9–––––––––/12––––12––––––––
A –––––––5–7–––––––––––––(7)––––––––––––––(10)–––––––
E –––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you. If it was helpful, consider throwing a few bucks in my tip jar – it helps me support this project so I can keep it up.

Unlock My Secret Stash!

Gain instant access to my library of 233 print-friendly cheat sheets! Also includes my extended video lessons, jam tracks, courses, and more.

Join Song Notes Premium

Have questions? Watch video tour »

Browse Related Lessons

Click any tag below to view other lessons I've made in that category:

Enjoy My Lessons? Show Your Support!

Most of the lessons on my website are 100% free. If you have the means, please show your support with a tip jar contribution. I put many hours into every lesson — but it only takes you a minute to make a donation. You have my thanks!

Donate

Fun & Helpful Tools I've Made

Fret Monster

Interactive fretboard map! See the patterns behind every scale in any key.

View

Capo Captain

An easy way to calculate key & chord combinations, for any capo location!

View

Key Master

See and hear the notes, chords, scales used in each of the most common keys.

View

Blank Tabs

Free PDF templates to download, print, and write out your own guitar tabs!

View

Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!


Recent Lessons

  • July 13, 2024

    "Wondering Why" by Red Clay Strays

    Let's learn how to play this easy-going, Southern-Rock hit! Plenty of strumming & rhythm tips, including a capo'd acoustic version if you want to avoid barre chords.

  • July 8, 2024

    Viewing Notes in a Certain Area of the Fretboard

    In my FretMonster web tool, you can now adjust the visible range of frets where notes appear. Great for less distraction while practicing. Check out this video tour!

  • June 21, 2024

    "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits

    A mega-lesson for this classic song! Learn a strummed version, how to incorporate the melody notes, and two ways to play it fingerstyle.

  • June 14, 2024

    "Have a Little Faith In Me" by John Hiatt

    Learn how to play Hiatt's 1987 classic! Just like his live performances, I'll teach it using capo 5 and the Key of C chord family.

  • June 6, 2023

    "And It's Still Alright" by Nathaniel Rateliff

    Learn Nathaniel Rateliff's amazingly powerful song from 2020! I include a few different strumming & riff options to make sure you're covered.

  • June 1, 2024

    Introduction to Reggae Strumming & Rhythm

    Let's dive into playing reggae on the guitar! I'll walk you through the basics, from off-beat accents to muted strums — with a few fun song exercises included.

  • May 20, 2024

    What Types of Play-Along Covers are Most Helpful?

    Most of my song lessons feature backing tracks or play-along covers — and I'd love your feedback about which aspect of these is most helpful!

  • May 10, 2024

    "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell

    Let's dive into Glen Campbell's all-time classic from 1968, originally written by Jimmy Webb. I teach this with capo 5th fret, using easier-to-manage Key of C chords.

  • May 1, 2024

    Tour of My New "KeyMaster" Web Tool

    My new interactive web tool lets you see and hear the notes, chords, and common progressions in all of the most common keys. Super helpful!

  • April 24, 2024

    13 Must-Know Riffs with Droning Strings

    A handy roundup of all the songs I've taught that use droning strings... with a quick breakdown of each riff!

  • April 18, 2024

    "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens

    Learn how to play Cat Stevens' 1971 classic! I include campfire-friendly chords and strumming, and a step-by-step breakdown of the intro fingerstyle riff.

  • April 12, 2024

    Playing Songs "Correctly" vs. When to Cut Corners

    When learning songs, are we allowed to simplify things? Do we always need to play things exactly as they're recorded? Here's some quick thoughts!

Browse All Recent Lessons →

Browse All My Lessons

By lesson type

By technique

By musical genre

By decade

By musical key

By popular artist


← back to homepage