Dave Grohl Offers Tips on Playing Acoustic Guitar — For Drummers

By Mark Kemp

When former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl announced two decades ago that he would be coming back with a new band after his brief but meteoric run with that iconic ’90s band, music industry insiders were not just a little skeptical. After all, the drummer had also revealed he would be the new band’s singing, songwriting, guitar-playing front man — roles he’d not played in either of his earlier bands, Scream or Nirvana.


Grohl allayed any doubts when Foo Fighters released their self-titled debut in July 1995, and even more so when he hit the stage on April 25, 1996, for a small but well-attended early appearance at the Virgin Megastore across Times Square from the MTV offices, where I worked at the time. I watched him plow into his white Gibson Les Paul that afternoon with a ferocity that made it seem as if he’d been playing the electric guitar all his life.

In this edition of Off Camera with Sam Jones, Grohl offers a few tips for drummers on how to learn to play an acoustic guitar — without having to endure those pesky lessons. The key: Pretend it’s a drum kit.

“The way I look at a guitar is like a drum set,” Grohl says in this instructional clip, which you can see more of at the Off Camera website. “I look at the lower strings like they’re kicks and snares, and I look at [the highers ones] like they’re cymbals.”

At one point, Grohl picks out a riff. “It’s almost like a kick-snare pattern,” he says, then later, “But I mean, nobody taught me how to do that. I just thought, like, ‘Oh, that sounds good!'”

Mark Kemp
Mark Kemp

Former AG editor Mark Kemp is the author of Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South (Simon & Schuster, 2004; University of Georgia Press, 2006).