The Man Who Sold the World

by Nirvana • Lesson #395 • Oct 11, 2021

Video lesson and sheet music

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 4 pages

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Editor’s notes

Today I’m excited to show you how to play The Man Who Sold The World, as covered by Nirvana on their 1994 album MTV Unplugged. This song is originally written & recorded by David Bowie (1970), but this lesson will work perfectly well for his version too. This song is a blast to play. In addition to being one you can strum & sing in a straightforward manner, there’s (1) the distinctive one-string riff, (2) the chorus scale riff, and (3) the ending solo – which also uses only one string – which altogether make for a true delight to play around with. No matter which of these you want to tackle, this tutorial has you covered.

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 Preview & Lesson Summary
  • 2:16 Tuning Notes (Standard vs. E-flat)
  • 2:46 Intro Riff Basics
  • 5:33 Intro Riff, While Strumming
  • 7:25 Chord Shapes
  • 10:27 Strumming the Verse
  • 15:04 Strumming the Chorus
  • 17:30 Chorus Scale Riff
  • 24:15 Ending Solo w/ Tab

⭐️ Patreon bonus: full-play along cover video

The Man Who Sold the World members-only play-along cover (guitar lesson)

Based on popular demand, I’ve created a separate video showing TWO play-through covers of this song. The first is in standard tuning (using a simple strum, and no backing guitar tracks) while the second uses E-flat tuning (using a percussive strum, along with the chorus scale riff played over a backing rhythm track). Taken together, I feel you’ll be in very good in hands in seeing the different ways you can approach this song.



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Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

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