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U2 - Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ElectroVibe, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Does anyone know the basic riff to this song? It's only about 3 notes. I looked at several Youtube players and they all seemed to play it differently, and I don't think any of them got it right.

    It's so simple but I just can't seem to get it.

    All I'm really looking for is what he plays on the root chord. After that I think I can figure out the rest. Thanks for any help.
  2. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    The songs root note is C. The chords in the song are C, F, Bb, and G.

    G F C
    "I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

    There is another version of the song in a half step up in C# As well.
  3. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    C? Okay, that actually helped me.

    Last night I listened to a live version of the band performing it. It sounded like B to me. I finally figured out what he was playing. But if it is actually C then that explains how the riff is so effortless.

    I think I have figured out the riff now:
    He is basically playing C on the A string, and hitting an open A right before the 4th quarter note and hammering on the C.

    Not knowing the right key is what was throwing me off. So thanks, Precision.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The majority of internet TAB's and Youtube lessons for this song are wrong, just so you know.

    The "correct" notes are the ones Clayton plays on the recording, which you can learn by listening. Even if you are an absolute beginner at ear training, this is a really really easy song you can learn in 1 hour or less, I promise. There are only 12 possible notes so it should never ever take you more than 12 minutes to figure out what key a song is in: play each note along with the song for up to 1 minute until you find the one that sounds correct. :)

    It's also worth mentioning that U2 often lowers the key of songs in live performances, to make them easier on Bono's voice. As you learn music theory, you'll realize that the pattern is the same even when the song is played in a different key or tuning. This is called "transposing" and a really useful tool to understand it is "Roman numeral analysis."

    I hope that helps get you started on learning lots of U2 songs, good luck! :)
  5. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I have 2 tips that I think will help. 1 is to "sing" the notes verbally and then match that up on your bass. Then tip #2 is to play it an Octave higher. So play the next higher C# and learn it from there. I think the trouble you are having is the 2 notes/beats before the C#. From memory, I think he is hitting a quick G# then A# then then C#. Please check out this Link to see what I mean by singing the notes.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
  6. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Yes, I know. I was just hoping there was someone on here who might have already known this song. It's deceptively simple. But I think that the key of C is what makes is that way. And the hammer to the root note from the open A (the 6th note) up to the C (the root note) is what the major thing I was trying to get. There might be a 5th (G) right before the A. It's more than just the "notes" but the WAY that he plays them.

    But if I were playing in a different key I might have to slightly alter it, such as removing the 5th in the main riff. There are physical limitations to the instrument. And you can't really transpose on a bass the same way you could on other instruments. Well...technically you could. It just wouldn't be as musically "right" sounding.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
  7. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Thanks. That's basically what I was hearing the first time I heard the song too.
  8. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    youll find that he plays a lot on his A string as a primary root or basis of a song (and higher), same thing with a fair amount of post punk influenced bass players, The cult, joy division, depeche mode, sisters of mercy, love and rockets, bauhaus, tones on tail, the cure...most of their material is easier to find the pattern on the A string first.
    blindrabbit likes this.
  9. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Very cool to know.
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's not "deceptively simple"--just "simple"! ;)

    You can transpose "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" to ANY of the 12 keys (the bass has NO physical limitations as to the keys you can play and in fact U2 often performs songs in different keys), the famous version from "Joshua Tree" is not in the key of C, and I've never seen Adam Clayton use the hammer-on technique in this song.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  11. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    He's right. It can be in any key. Depending on what the singer can sing in a certain note live like any band, but the recording is in C
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I hear the Joshua Tree album version as being in C# (not C) but some turntables do spin a little faster or slower than others. ;)
    Precision101 likes this.
  13. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    The original song is in C# on a record or CD. Who knows what my music has been processed through:D
  14. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Hmmm...I don't agree that ANY song can be transposed to a different key. Even some of the best rock bassists might have used complex hammer-on's or pull-off's from open strings. If they had to change the key on THAT type of song, then they would probably approach the bass part differently to accommodate. You can't just "shift" the position up if you depend on the open strings to make the riff.

    True, this is a fairly simple song in comparison to most. But it could still apply on simpler songs too.
  15. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I tend to agree. Keyboard-based instruments are probably the most versatile instruments for transposing, though probably not the easiest, since black keys don't always make for the most fun fingerings. However, the bass is probably one of the easiest instruments for transposing. But it does have its limitations, particularly when, as you said, a part is heavily based around open strings. You can overcome this with different tunings, but that's not always practical in a live situation. Styles of music often lend themselves to easier transpositions.

    Country is a pretty easy style to transpose on bass (though guitarists often use capos to be able to play particular G, C, and D voicing in other keys). Rock music is often more difficult, due to the heavy use of the open E and A (or dropped low string).
  16. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    Thanks for all the replies. It's interesting that out of so many video clips of guys trying to play the "simple" song, they get it wrong. One guy played EVERY note between the the sharp 5th to the root and skipping the 6th because that was easier for him. He skipped the one note that he should have played, I guess because he couldn't hear it very well.
  17. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    I've attached a copy of my leadsheet of the tune in C ( the original is in C# - the singer I work with wanted it in C...).
    There is an example of what I believe is the bassline, written at the bottom of the page.
    (Sorry, the treble Clef was cut off in the scan)....The first measure shows the chord voicing, (C,D,G) which remains (basically) the same throughout the song, while the bass note changes from C - F - G, creating the I - IV - V root movement. A great example of the power of the BASS note determining the root/sound of the chord voicing above.

    Attached Files:

    • U2.pdf
      File size:
      1.8 MB

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