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When You Sleep Tab: Learn How to Play This Classic Shoegaze Song

If you’re a fan of shoegaze music, then chances are you’ve come across the iconic song “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine. Released in 1991 as part of their critically acclaimed album “Loveless,” this track has become a staple of the genre. With its dreamy guitar melodies and ethereal vocals, it’s no wonder that many aspiring musicians want to learn how to play “When You Sleep” on their guitars. In this article, we’ll provide you with a detailed tab and answer some common questions about playing this classic shoegaze song.

Before we dive into the tab, it’s important to note that “When You Sleep” is played in standard tuning (EADGBE) and requires some basic guitar techniques such as strumming, picking, and utilizing effect pedals like fuzz or distortion. Now, let’s get started with the tab:


This tab represents the main guitar riff that repeats throughout the song. Start by playing the 8th fret on the B string and then shift to the 6th fret on the A string. Repeat this pattern to create the signature melody of “When You Sleep.”

Now, let’s move on to some common questions about playing this song:

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1. What effects should I use to achieve the shoegaze sound?
To capture the distinct shoegaze sound, experiment with using effect pedals like fuzz, distortion, and reverb. These effects will help create the characteristic wall of sound associated with the genre.

2. Can I play “When You Sleep” on an acoustic guitar?
While it’s possible to play the song on an acoustic guitar, it’s recommended to use an electric guitar for a more accurate representation of the original recording. The use of effects pedals is also crucial for achieving the desired sound.

3. Are there any specific strumming patterns for this song?
The strumming pattern in “When You Sleep” is relatively straightforward. You can start by using a simple down-up-down-up pattern or experiment with different combinations to add your personal touch.

4. Can I play this song using power chords?
Although power chords are commonly used in shoegaze music, “When You Sleep” mainly relies on single-note melodies. However, you can incorporate power chords during certain parts to add more depth to your performance.

5. Are there any other guitar parts in the song?
Apart from the main guitar riff we discussed earlier, there are additional atmospheric guitar layers throughout the song. These parts are often improvised and can be played using various effects to create a more intricate sonic landscape.

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6. Is it necessary to use a pick while playing “When You Sleep”?
Using a pick is not mandatory, and you can play the song with your fingers if you prefer. However, using a pick can help achieve a more consistent and defined sound, especially when playing the main riff.

7. Are there any challenging sections in the song?
Overall, “When You Sleep” is a relatively straightforward song to play. However, some beginners might find the chord transitions challenging at first. Practice the transitions slowly and gradually increase your speed to master the song.

In conclusion, learning how to play “When You Sleep” on the guitar is a great way to delve into the world of shoegaze music. By following the provided tab and experimenting with different effects, you can capture the essence of this iconic song. Remember to practice regularly and have fun while immersing yourself in the mesmerizing sounds of shoegaze.