I’m really excited to show you how to play one of my forever favourites, ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd. This song features great lyrics and melody topped up with one of the best solos ever played on the guitar! It is a true classic that every guitarist should know how to play.
You can think about this song as a combination of A (verse), and B (chorus) sections played one after another. These two sections have a really different vibe, and, interestingly enough, they were very written by two different musicians. The A section of ‘Comfortably Numb’ was written by Roger Waters (who also wrote all lyrics) and the B section by David Gilmour (who also, of course, played both amazing solos). You can read more about the history of this song here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki…
‘Comfortably Numb’ is a really great workout if you are learning barre chords. The verse starts and finishes on the B minor chord barre chord, which makes it a perfect platform for practising this chord. The friendly pace of the song will also contribute to the general learning experience, so let’s do it! By the way, in this tutorial, I will cover only rhythm and chord structure. I will leave the amazing guitar solo parts for another tutorial.
As mentioned earlier, we will start the verse with the B minor chord. It is not a particularly difficult chord to play, but if you are new to the barre chords, it may cause you some headache. Try to work at first on the B minor shape, making sure you can play it relatively clean. Simply try to find the chord on the neck, strum it, relax your hand, shake off all of the tension and again, find the B minor chord, strum it, and so on …
The great news is that this is really the hardest chord to play, so once you master it, it will be downhill from here … as a small plug – I have a dedicated to the barre chords module in my Members section of this website, so please check this LINK if you are interested in structured Online Guitar Lessons.
Once you are comfortable with the B minor chord, the next would be to add to it another chord in the queue, which is A major. Spend some time switching between these two shapes, as probably this is the most difficult transition out of all of these chords. Strum B minor chord then switch to A major, strum it, back to the B minor strum it and so on … That will prepare you to put them into action.
In this verse, progression is a very interesting chord G/Gb (spelt – G slash G flat). You may think about it in this way, from the fourth string down, it is a G chord, while the note on the second fret sixth string adds to it G flat, hence G/Gb 🙂 – the fifth string is muted with the first finger.
Once you are on the E minor chord, you will finish the progression with the B minor chord. This is where it is a great song for practising the barre chords. You start and finish on the B minor chord, so you have plenty of time to switch to the B minor barre chord.
The chorus progression is pretty straightforward and features a little repetition of the chords D to A repeated twice, followed by C to G again repeated twice. We will finish it off by playing chords A, C, G and D.
The rhythm part is relatively easy. My choice of rhythm would be to play something along the lines of Down – Down – Up. This is the moment where you really need the video above, and I will show you exactly how to do it!
And this is it, let me know below how did it go for you. What is the most difficult part of ‘Comfortably Numb’, the B minor barre chord or maybe something else? Have fun practising the guitar!
Darius | Guitar Couch Lessons