Megadeth – My Last Words Intro Bass The Right Way

Megadeth - My Last words

Track 11 on the Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying? album, before their cover of “I Ain’t Superstitious”, begins with a twinkly picked guitar part and Dave Ellefson laying down an inner melody.

The song starts of very delicate and then morphs into a real kick in the teeth!

Let’s take a look at Dave Ellefson’s part in this intro…

Compare and contrast

Let’s take a quick, traditional, look at how Ultimate-Guitar has this tabbed out versus the Just The Riffs version.

UG Version

JTR version

A lot of the UG one is correct but there are missing pieces and the positions aren’t right in many of the important places…

Tuning & tempo

Tuning-wise, this is somewhere between E standard and E♭ standard but I suspect that’s not a conscious, artistic choice and more a byproduct of the process of recording and mixing to tape. 

For ease I’ve tabbed this out in E standard and all audio clips are in E standard tuning as well.

Keep the shapes and positions and adjust tuning to taste 👍🏽

In terms of tempo, nothing fancy here. A moderate 106bpm with a 16th note rhythmic figure.

The intro stays that way right up until the song takes a left turn and Dave Mustaine starts riffing for dear life!

Bars 1 - 4

The first 4 bars are all guitar. A shimmering 16th note arpeggiated pattern that repeats over the rest of the intro, it sets a creepy and very intricate feel.

Bars 5 - 8

Ellefson Makes his entrance here.

He starts with a single D at the 12th fret and then sounds out a couple of diads (two note chords) which are A♭Major 3rd and GMaj 3rd before playing a descending and ascending line in unison with the lead guitar.

The UG tab misses these diads completely and simply has you play A♭ and G (in the wrong place).

UG has the right notes in the run but has you sliding back to hit the 5th fret G on the D as part of the run down which takes you away from the 12th fret on the D where you need to be to start the riff over again.

*** for a while I thought that perhaps the top of this run ended on the 7th fret G string (D) and there was just enough time to get back to the 12th fret on the D string but after watching Ellefson play it, it all hinges around the 12th fret D and NOT the 7th fret D ***

Here’s how that riff sounds as bass only and with the guitar for context.

bass only

bass & guitar

Bars 9 - 12: the twiddly bit

Now we come to what I call the Twiddly Bit.

I really like the flow of this riff, it’s very similar in feel and baroqiness to Cliff’s bass part on the intro to Fight Fire WithFire (which you can read about here).

Some finger-gymnastics are required in both a tight space and a very short period of time.

Below is the tab and the audio; one is bass only and the other is with the guitar part on top so you can feel it in context.

Bass only

bass & guitar

The end of the beginning

This intro is essentially in 3 parts before Mustaine goes riff-nuts.

It ends with part 3, an on the beat descending pattern that leads into the big heavy D (10th fret E string and NOT the 5th fret on the A string!).

The next 4 bars are broadly the same but if you want to play what he’s playing on the record you need to allow for the slight differences in the execution here.

Lets break it down.

There’s a very subtle, blink and you’ll miss it, difference between bars 13 and 14.

In bar 13 Ellefson plays a single quarter note G with a slide out but in bar 14 he plays the Gmaj 3rd diad and slides out before hitting the same run down.

You can obviously play the single note or the diad if you want to here if the single G is easier to land than the diad…

Bar 14 is repeated note for note 3x and then leads into a lone bar of 3/4 with the extension of the run down all the way down to the 10th fret E string D hold.

Which sounds like this:

bass only

bass & guitar

After that, buckle up!

and That's it.

3 sections and then you’re off to the races trying to keep up with the guitar and the drums…

The whole thing looks and sounds like this:

bass only

bass & guitar

Hopefully this helps and clears up what’s happening in this riff.

It’s a really fun one to play and showcases Ellefson’s dexterity and sense of melody which make him one of the all time Rock/Metal bass masters.