Breakdown by Tom Petty

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Here’s the Breakdown guitar tab. You can download the full tab, plus learn how to play it below:

Riff Rundown

Difficulty: Easy – Intermediate

Composer – Petty

Where to find this song – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers track #2

Release Date – April 1976

After the release of their first album in the late ’70s, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were shoved into the punk/new wave movement by many listeners, who picked up on the tough, shining energy of the group’s blend of Byrds riffs and Rolling Stones staggering riffs. In a way, the categorization made sense.

Intro Riff

The intro has 2 guitar parts along with a keyboard part we’ve arrainged for guitar. Here’s what they sound like together:

Guitar 1

Breakdown guitar tab: guitar 1

Begin the first part of this popular riff by using your 1st finger on the tenth fret on the “B” string. You will slide to the eighth fret and then back to the tenth fret with the same finger. Use your 1st finger again to play the ninth fret on the “G” string. Then, just slide to the
seventh fret, and then back to the ninth fret into the second measure. Next, just play the seventh fret on the “D” string. Slide from the seventh fret to the fifth fret, and then back to the seventh fret. End the measure by using your 1st finger to play the seventh fret on the “A” string.

Begin the third measure by barring your 1st finger on the “high E” string, the “B” string, and the “G” string on the fifth fret. Use your 4th finger to play the eighth fret on the “B” string. Just lift off of the eighth fret and play the fifth fret on the “B” string. Play it again into the last measure, and then use your 3rd finger to play the seventh fret on the “G” string. Notice that throughout this part there is a vibrato at the top of the tablature. That is noted by those ribbon-like lines after certain notes. Remember to add that in while you play by shaking the string rapidly.

Guitar 2

Begin this part by placing your 3rd and 4th fingers on the fifth frets on the “G” string and the “B” string. With those fingers in place, put your 2nd finger on the fourth fret on the “G” string, and your 1st finger on the third fret on the “B” string. Now all you have to do is lift off with your 3rd and 4th fingers on the fifth frets when you need to play the second part.

Breakdown guitar tab: guitar 2

Guitar 3

This part is pretty easy. Begin the first measure by using your 3rd finger on the fifth fret on the “low E” string, and also use your 1st finger on the third fret on the same string to transition. The entire riff for this guitar part is based around what you just did. Just play accordingly. When you see the third fret on the “A” string part, just move your 1st finger to the “A” string on the third fret. You will only need to use two fingers for this part.

Breakdown guitar tab: guitar 3

Breakdown Guitar Tab

Complete Transcription To “Breakdown” (PDF)

Complete Transcription To “Breakdown” (Power Tab)

Breakdown Guitar Tab Video Lesson