How to Play Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty

richardsguitarstudio on July 12, 2016


In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty – rhythm guitar parts. I’ve made a combination of lead and rhythm guitar parts so you can play smoothly through the recording and get the most out of your performance, which is also a great way to make a song happen if you are the sole guitarist in a band.

Tom Petty actually does some pretty impressive soloing at the end of this song – he totally shreds a few E minor pentatonic licks. He really is an underrated guitar player, and an amazing songwriter.

To play this song on guitar effectively, you’ll need to follow these tips:

  1. Follow the picking – as always. In the main riff, the upstrokes play the open E string and the downstrokes play the fretted notes. This way, you feel the beat where it should be, keep time with the band, and make nice heavy accents on the downbeats. The scale is a descending E Blues scale, and is a straight-forward rock guitar riff.
  2. The chorus catches you off guard. When you reach the chorus (Section C), you might get caught off guard. The verse (Section B) really doesn’t have much movement, and is comprised of mostly tied whole notes. So, the chord changes in the chorus really feel fast. Practice this section the most. You might even want to start there during your practice session so you get the feeling and are prepared mentally and physically for when that section arrives.
  3. watch out for the transitions into the interlude (Section D) and Outro (Section E). You are going to need to jump off of the main riff and into the 3rd fret C5 chord mid-riff. So, you won’t actually complete the main riff – you’ll move into the interlude and outro 2 notes early. Use your ears on this one.

– Nate Richards, Owner Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy

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