“I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” – That is what Ringo shouts out after the song. Helter Skelter is the Beatles’ attempt for the “loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could”, as Paul McCartney puts it.
The idea came from an interview that Pete Townshend (of The Who) mentioned that they created the “The most raucous rock ‘n’ roll, the dirtiest thing they’d ever done.” … and Paul wanted to do that same for the Beatles.
How to play “Helter Skelter”
There are some other fascination and eery facts about the song and I urge you to go search them out. But for this post we will learn how to play Helter Skelter – the intro riff, the chorus riffs and the solo part using the E major pentatonic scale.
How to Play Helter Skelter –
Let us first try and go through the intro riff of the song.
It’s very short and very rock and roll! You better setup your effect to have the same sounds as the Beatles to really appreciate it.
The intro makes use of a dyad progression in which one tone stays put (the high E) and theo ther moves chromatically down the B string : D-C#-C-B.
Open chords are used to create a big, thick wall sound in the verses and pre-chorus.
The Chorus Riff
The chorus features the identifiable main riff of the tune. I suggest you check out the tablature on songsterr to understand the idea behind the chorus riff.
The first part is the immortal blues comping pattern of A5 to A6. This chordal motif is answered by a descending dominant scale (A Mixolydian mode) on the beats three and four.
The solo and I mentioned in the introduction of this post is straightforward and (E) pentatonic. The solo is played over the A and E chords implying the chorus progression.
Though it’s played against two chords, think of it as being based on the single box position of E minor pentatonic at the 12th fret.
The solo is a real study in string bending. This is particularly true in bars 2 and 3 where the bends on the G and B strings are done with the index fingers.