Learn Last Kiss on guitar
This post is a tutorial on how to play the Pearl Jam version of Last Kiss on guitar.
I've rated this tutorial to be at about a 2/10 difficulty rating because this song uses four chords (G–Emin–C–D) and has one strumming pattern throughout the entire song. I suggest that you have about 5 songs under your belt before you start learning this song.
What skills are required? What are the benefits to learning Last Kiss?
Last Kiss is a great song for helping you become more familiar with the ever-popular G–Emin–C–D chord system, and of course, the folk strum. I recommend having about five songs under your belt before you attempt this song (check out some of my 0/10 songs or my 1/10 songs).
Highly recommended: Download a copy for yourself
Pearl Jam probably isn't gonna be too terribly offended if you got a pirated copy of this song, or if you do the music streaming thing, but I think there are benefits to downloading your own copy. For one, you can pop the song into Capo and slow the music down while you're learning it, and for two, it's good karma. Here's some links:
Getting familiar with and approaching Last Kiss
Last Kiss has just one chord progression and one strumming pattern. It repeats throughout the entire song. I think it's best to be familiar with a song before playing it, as doing so makes the entire process go much faster. In fact, I recommend that you spend time memorizing the lyrics, as that always helps me learn a song faster.
Approaching Last Kiss
Now it's onto the good stuff! We are going to work on the strumming pattern first, the chord progression next, and then we'll discuss the particulars of playing along with the recorded version of the song.
Here's where you can find all these chunks on the YouTube video, (posted below for your convenience):
Strumming Pattern — 2:58
Chord Progression — 6:03
Song Discussion — 6:46
How to practice the chord progression
If you have the chord progression and the strumming pattern together at a slow-ish tempo, it's time to start solidifying the mechanics. It's super important that you don't take the progression too fast, right after you learned it. You need to get used to the movements of your hands. I recommend playing it slower than you want to, at first. You can always speed it up later.
Push the tempo to master the chord progression
Make sure that you can play the verse note-perfectly at a slow tempo before you speed it up. Why? Well, if you speed up a mistake, it'll still be a mistake, but of course it'll be a fast mistake. If you could speed it up so that it is about 10-15 BPM faster than the record, you'll easily be able to play along to it. In fact, if I were teaching a student how to play this song and he could play it that fast, I'd say congrats!
Troubleshooting Last Kiss
"The strumming pattern is totally tripping me up. Help!"
I won't even begin to lie to you: Strumming is one of the hardest skills to learn to master in the acoustic rhythm guitar style. My top suggestion would be to find a good guide (I can help you do this, really quickly), but if you need a bit more automated way to learn strumming, try this video out:
"The C chord is super difficult to play."
Overall, there are seven basic chords that you can learn on guitar. C major, as it turns out, is the hardest of these seven chords. If this chord is giving you some trouble, as it would many other beginners, I recommend having just a little bit of patience with it. The more time you spend playing guitar, the easier this chord will get.
Of course, the C chord might just be too much of a stretch for you right now, and that's okay. If you can get the chord sounding about 75% clear, that's good for now and you should count that as a win. To get there, here are some suggestions:
- Play on your fingertips.
- Try to get your fingers as close to the frets as possible.
- Try to adjust the angle of your wrist by about a quarter of an inch up or down. This helps some people, but honestly, keeping your wrist straight works for 90% of all the students I work with.
Here are a couple of high resolution photos of the C chord, to help you out:
"How on earth do I take the chord progression slower? That's hard."
It's not as hard as you might think. The chord progression is easy to do when you're playing along to the song, and that's made easier simply by applying a specific workflow, one of my personal favorites: Capo 10.
"I've got the strumming pattern at a slower pace, but how do I take it faster?"
Ahhhhh, workflows! Workflows are all about how to practice in a more effective way, which is the cornerstone of the way I like to teach guitar. With the right workflows, you can speed up the strumming to be faster in half the amount of time than will most other beginners.
"How will I know if I've mastered this song?"
When you play along with the recording, you've got this song. Yay!