One of the Californian pop rocker’s biggest hits, “Sugar” is a great example of Maroon 5’s smooth, funky pop rock sound, and it dominated radio stations around the world after its release in 2014. At the time of writing, “Sugar” has racked up a whopping 2.8 billion (and counting) views on YouTube, making it one of the most popular videos on the streaming site. In today’s free online guitar lesson, we will look at the interesting chords that make up this tune, as well as the guitar tab for the funky rhythm chops heard throughout, before finally analysing the song from a theoretical standpoint. Without further adieu…
Although “Sugar” consists of only four chords throughout the whole song, the chords used are actually quite interesting. Let’s have a look at the diagrams first in order to learn how to fret these shapes:
“Sugar” – Maroon 5 Guitar Tab
Now let’s take a look at the tab for “Sugar” by Maroon 5. There are actually two distinct guitar parts heard during this tune. Guitar 1 is heard throughout most of the song, and enters at the start of the first verse, with guitar 2 entering at the start of the first chorus. Guitar 1 plays power chords that follow the chord progression, as outlined in the tab below
The rhythm played on the guitar is quite specific, and it may take a bit of practice in order to perform it consistently. As mentioned above, guitar 2 enters at the start of the first chorus, and works really well with guitar 1 by playing a similar rhythm, with the chords being voiced on the D, G & B strings. From a production point of view, this is a clever technique, as not only does it give the song a natural build by introducing the parts slowly, but it also ensures that the parts remain clear and crisp by ensuring that neither contains too many notes. Let’s now take a look at the tab for guitar 2:
You may want to experiment with voicing chords like this in your own playing, you may notice that your rhythm playing begins to “tighten up” and you’ll sit in a mix a lot better, leading to an overall more professional sound.
“Sugar” is in the unusual key of Db major, although interestingly it does not start on the tonic chord, instead opting to begin on the unusual GbMaj7 sus2 chord. This chord consists of the notes Gb, Ab, Db & F, so it could be viewed more simply as a Db major triad (Db, F, Ab) with a Gb in the bass. Next we move onto Bbm7, which contains the notes Bb, Ab, Db & F, meaning that this time, we could view this chord as Db major triad with a Bb in the bass. Ebm7 is next, followed by a simple Db chord. We’ve seen this technique before of using the same triads but alternating the bass notes to form new chords in “Attention” by Charlie Puth, and it’s definitely a tool worth exploring in your own compositions. Although the chords are slightly more harmonically advanced, they are still completely diatonic to the key of Db, giving us a progression of IV Maj7sus2, VIm7, IIm7 and I when expressed as Roman numerals.
Making great use of modern production techniques and some funky guitar chops, “Sugar” is definitely worth learning for those interested in improving their rhythm guitar playing and songwriting abilities. Although the rhythm may seem simple at first, it can take a bit of practice to make sure you’re sitting “in the pocket” nicely, so pay close attention to your timing and ensure that it grooves as it should!
I hope you enjoyed today’s guitar lesson. As always, comments and feedback are more than welcome, as well as anything that you’d like to see me tackle in the future. Until then, have fun with this tune and I’ll catch you next time.