All Apologies

by Nirvana • Lesson #155 • May 26, 2018

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 video I’ll teach you how to play the intro & verse riff of “All Apologies” by Nirvana – with tabs! I’ll include an easy version of the riff (using standard tuning), as well as a more full advanced version that closely matches what Kurt Cobain plays (using drop-D tuning). As I note in the video, Nirvana tunes everything down an additional half-step – though I’m not doing that in this lesson.

Lesson timestamps:

  • 0:00 Playthrough and greeting
  • 1:00 Simplified easy version
  • 3:01 “Full” advanced version
  • 6:55 Farewell

Quick note about tuning!

Nirvana plays with everything tuned down 1/2 step (E becomes Eb, A becomes Ab, etc). In my video lesson, I’m staying in standard tuning to keep things simple. There is an additional step (of tuning your low-E string down an extra whole step) which I’ll talk about later as well.

Easy version of the riff

If you’re just getting started, begin with this tab below. This will help you learn the notes. By “easy” I mean:

  • Keeps your guitar in standard tuning
  • Doesn’t require playing the sixth string at all
  • Sounds less full, but is easier to learn

Here’s the tab:

E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
B ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
G ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––11–11–9––––||
D ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––/12–12–10–9––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––12–||
A ||––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9––––––––––––––|––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9–––––––––––––||
E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
      1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4 +

Full & advanced version of the riff

Here’s how Nirvana plays it, for the most part. Note, they have their lowest string tuned down an extra whole step (from E down to D). And also, if you want to play along with Nirvana, tune all strings down an additional half step (Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb).

E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
B ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
G ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––11–11–9––––||
D ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––/12–12–10–9––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––0–––––––12–||
A ||––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9––0–––––––––––|––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9––0––––––––––||
D ||––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––|––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––|––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––––|––0–––––0–––––0––––––––––||
      1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4 +

If you’re having trouble adding those droning bass notes, start with this tab below – which admittedly over-applies the droning bass note. Once you get a feel for this, then you can dial it back and use the bass note enough to add some body, but not too much as to overwhelm things. See my video lesson for additional reference.

E ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
B ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––||
G ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––11–11–9––––||
D ||––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––/12–12–10–9––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––0–––––––12–||
A ||––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9––0–––––––––––|––9––9––10–9–/12–12–10–9––|–––––9––10–9––0––––––––––||
D ||––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––|––0––0––0––0––0–––––––––––|––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––0––|––0––0––0––0––0––––––––––||
      1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4 +

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you. If you’d like to learn how to play the full song beyond this riff, let me know!

Unlock My Secret Stash!

Gain instant access to my library of 208 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? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).

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

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

  • February 16, 2023

    Soulful Lead Guitar with "America the Beautiful"

    Here's a few ways to approach playing melodic lead guitar over America is Beautiful - shown both on an acoustic and electric guitar. Lots of fun!

  • February 8, 2023

    Country Honk by The Rolling Stones

    Let's learn how to play The Stones' acoustic & countrified version of Honky Tonk Women — with all the riffs included!

  • January 31, 2023

    Beginner Blues - New Course Sneak Peek!

    Watch the first three videos of my upcoming course, Beginner Blues Guitar — where I'll teach youthe 12 bar blues, dominant 7th chords, and the shuffle (swing) rhythm.

  • January 23, 2023

    Strumming with Accented Notes

    A deep-dive into this must-know intermediate strumming technique, with step-by-step exercises to get up to speed! Featuring the Green Day song Time of Your Life.

  • January 13, 2023

    Lead Guitar Finger Placement – ft. La Sitiera (The Mavericks)

    Ever find yourself learning a riff, and not being sure which fingers to use? I'll give you a few tips in this video that'll help, no matter what you're playing!

  • January 9, 2024

    Hybrid Fingerstyle - First Steps!

    Let's look at combining percussive strumming with Travis-style fingerpicking melodies. I'll show 4-5 exercises & song examples to get you started.

  • January 6, 2024

    Streets of London by Ralph McTell

    Learn how to fingerpick Ralph McTell's 1969 folk classic! I also show you how to strum it, should you want something a bit easier.

  • December 23, 2023

    Silent Night

    Learn to fingerpick & strum this holiday classic! I'll teach you how to combine the chords with the melody, as well as play it with straightforward strumming in case you want to sing it loud.

  • December 22, 2023

    Joy to the World

    Here's a few ways to combine the melody with chord shapes! Whether played fingerstyle or with a pick, this one is easy to learn and makes for great fun. Sing & normal strumming version included.

  • December 21, 2023

    Blue Christmas (Key of C version)

    An easy-going strum & sing version of the Elvis Presley classic! With plenty of licks, fills, and runs to spice things up along the way.

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