Toxicity Guitar Tutorial w/ TAB – System of a Down – Drop C – 12/8 time signature



An in-depth guitar tutorial on how to play ‘Toxicity’ by System of a Down. As always with my guitar lessons, I’ll break down all the guitar parts with on-screen chord boxes and tabs. Timings in the video for the different sections can be found below.

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The guitars are tuned in Drop C tuning, which has every string tuned down two frets (one tone/whole step) below standard tuning, and then string 6 is tuned down a further two frets to give us the following (from low to high): C G C F A D

The song is in 12/8 time, which is what we call compound quadruple time signature. Basically we have a count of four beats to each measure, but each of these beats can be split into three 8th notes instead of the more common two 8th notes (as with 4/4 or ‘common’ time).

For this reason I think it’s really important to work with a metronome as you learn the parts, especially the picking parts in the intro and verse which have a constant 8th note rhythm. The common pitfall is to think like there are six beats to each measure instead of four.

I go through different options for the picking parts. Often the intro and verse parts are taught on strings 5 and 4 but you can clearly hear in the original song that there is a guitar part or two in a higher octave.

Take your time with everything, especially the Drop C power chord riffing which requires some precise alternate picking and down-up strumming.

0:00 Video Intro
1:18 Explanation of 12/8 time signature
1:58 Picking Intro picking playthrough/explanation
2:42 Picking Intro breakdown
4:25 Main Riff (Intro/Chorus) playthrough
4:51 Main Riff breakdown
6:52 Break (Pre-Verse) breakdown
8:06 Verse playthrough
8:33 Verse breakdown
9:35 Verse (higher octave) breakdown
10:56 Power Chords before Chorus breakdown
11:48 Chorus explanation
11:53 Break 2 / Verse 2 explanation
12:24 Bridge playthrough
13:03 Bridge breakdown
15:13 Chorus/Outro explanation
15:42 Outro playthrough
15:49 Outro breakdown
16:10 Video sign off
16:34 ;o)

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See you soon.

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