this tune… doesn’t copy any old metal songs, but it uses motifs from many famous bands.
Justin Hawkins, his brother Dan, and bassist Frankie Poullain use Rotosound Roto strings
The Darkness is an English rock band that mixes glam, heavy metal, and hard rock with a modern sound. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” is all those styles wrapped in thick distorted power chords. It is in the key of E and relies on similar feelings and rocking riffs from past heavy metal songs.
The rhythm of the song is important to grasp as it gives it the necessary drive, the best way to describe the guitar strumming in the beginning is with an AC/DC feel. That is the cool part about this tune, it doesn’t copy any old metal songs, but it uses motifs from many famous bands. After you practice the basic chords, turn the song on and start getting that proper rhythm down.
How to Play “I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Intro and Verse
Even though it is on E we start on an F# power chord, we build up to the E by playing a riff. The riff is F#5 (244XXX) to A5 (X022XX) to B5 (X244XX) and then to the E5 of (022XXX). Besides the intro this is the common riff throughout the song, initially we are playing them in 1/8th notes and 2 at a time after the first downbeat. Keep the transitions between chords clean by muting the strings.
After the final A5 we woggle the 4th fret of the low E string and then we move up with a riff of 0-4 and then to the A string with 0-2-4. In the beginning, you can just play the chords simply and increase the embellishments as you get better. Just be sure to get that 4-power chord riff down smoothly. Sometimes people like to play the E string at times when they should mute it, it’s up to how you have your distortion settings. Since the song is in E, it doesn’t sound too dissonant.
Next we move to the chords E major and F#m 3 times before moving into a harder part where we move quickly with power chords of A5 to A#5 to B5. Palm mute the F#m as you strum on it and then quickly move into the three-chord movement. After this part we slide down from the twelfth fret and do that same section again.
We slide down for the 12th fret and go into a major scale up the E string of 0 2 4 and then up the A string 0 2 4 and slide back to the 2. Then we move into the A5, F#5, and to the B5. During the chorus, we add more embellishment to this movement, but it is all within the E major scale. And then we hit a C#5 with a heavy strum and then to B5 and into D5
The first solo is simple, fast, and in the key of E so it fits perfectly, it is just the 12th frets of the B and E strings bending back and forth with a quick jump to the 17th fret of the A string. We move back to the 12th fret on the A and slide all the way down to 0. And then bend your way through the G string 13th fret to the D string 14th and then end on the A string 15th fret, before jumping back into the E-F#m.
Dan Hawkins solo highlight is going to be a lot more complicated to play, however, it is not impossible. It starts on the 5th fret at the E note and follows mostly E major and pentatonic notes with some chromatic and blue notes added in to give it the rocking vibe. Besides looking at specific tabs for the solo it is also helpful to listen and follow along and flesh the notes out. You know you are working in E and have the basic chord structure, so listen to the notes and bends within those chords.
To recap we start with the intro and verse with the main riff of F#5-A5-B5-E5, and then we move into the bridge or pre-chorus with E-F#m and then the quick A-A#-B. Once we get to the chorus we slightly change the riff to E5-A5-F#5-B5, and then we move to the quick solo before the next verse. After this verse, we play another bridge, chorus, and then the main and long solo. After the long solo, we have the bridge chords and back into a clapping chorus. Finally, a 3rd and wailing solo occurs before the main opening riff plays for four measures and then a proper screeching Heavy Metal ending!
The Effects Units and Pedals Used by The Darkness
In the video the band plays in front of massive Marshall stacks, so we know right away heavy metal distorted grit is the main effect we need. If you only have amp settings keep it on a metal preset with maybe the gain turned up a little more than usual. If you have pedals you can use any boost, overdrives, and distortions for the grit, and a compressor and equaliser to help clean the sound up a little bit.
We want an ’80s heavy metal sound, which has a cleaner vibe than sludge, grunge, or thrash-type metal. The effects themselves are not too difficult to emulate and the power chord playing is reasonable for most level players. The hardest parts will be getting some of the blues bends right and of course the 3 different solos, but it is a great song to learn as it is such a mix of so many past bands.
Both Justin Hawkins, his brother Dan, and bassist Frankie Poullain use Rotosound Roto strings. The guitarists favour regular gauge R10 and hybrid light top/heavy bottom R11-54 sets. These hybrid sets are great for rhythm playing as they allow you to palm-mute power chords more easily. Frankie uses RB45 Roto Bass sets.
The Darkness have continued to make music and lead singer Justin Hawkins has his own social media channels where he teaches music and discusses past songs like this one. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” is a great song to use for your guitar lessons like these, as it has a mixture of different skill levels. Perhaps the hardest part of all will be learning to sing it with the falsetto voice and hard rock energy!