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“American Idiot” by Green Day

Riff Rundown

Difficulty: Easy

Composer – Green Day

Where to find this song – American Idiot track #1

Release Date – September 2004

The Band:

Billie Joe Armstrong – vocals, guitar

Mike Dirnt – bass, vocals

Tre Cool – drums

The Bio:

Out of all the post-Nirvana American alternative bands to break into the pop
mainstream, Green Day were second only to Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in terms
of influence. In truth, Green Day were simply punk revivalists, recharging
the energy of speedy, catchy three-chord punk-pop songs. Though their music
wasn’t particularly innovative, they brought the sound of late-’70s punk
to a new, younger generation.

Main Riff

The main riff through the song is easy, as most “punk” music truly
is. You will be working with fast chord changes though, all based solely on
power chords. Let’s assume then for the main riff you will be using your 1st
and 3rd/4th fingers ( whichever is more comfortable ) on the notes. Remember
to play close attention to the timing with this, as that is the key to the


For the verse, notice that you start out with nothing but mutes. This will
aid you in getting used to them if you aren’t already. You will be muting for
the first two measures. Do this by not actually playing any strings, but holding
them down with any of your fingers enough to where you don’t hear an actual
note, but you do hear a sound from the guitar. It will sound muffled. For the
third and fourth measures, you are just playing the same thing that you did
in the main riff, but barre the extra string with your 3rd/4th finger.


All of these measures are mostly repetitive from the main riff and the verse.

Riff Resources

Complete Transcription To “American
Idiot” (PDF)

Complete Transcription To “American
Idiot” (Power Tab)