American Idiot by Green Day

Out of all the post-Nirvana American alternative bands to break into the pop mainstream, Green Day was 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.

The 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 song.


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.

Complete Transcription

Complete Transcription To “American Idiot” (PDF)

Complete Transcription To “American Idiot” (Power Tab)