Kpopalypse tabs: T-ara – Sugar Free

Kpopalypse tabs is back, this time with another T-ara song!

I thought I’d give my newest guitar, the Gibson Flying V, a spin on a song where I could showcase some distortion and hard rock tones.  Sugar Free is a pop-metal song in spirit and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Van Halen album.  It’s also not very technically demanding, which is probably good for the poor people who tried to play the very advanced “Love Of B” last time I did a post like this.  Anyway, let’s take a closer look at “Sugar Free”.

T-ara – Sugar Free

Structure and timestamps

Intro – 0:00
Riff 1 – 0:08
Riff 2  (“big room” mix riff)- 0:32
Verse 1 – 0:47
Pre-chorus – 1:02
Chorus – 1:19
Verse 2 – 1:53
Pre-chorus – 2:08
Chorus – 2:25
Riff 1 (breakdown) – 2:59
Chorus – 3:21

Key and time signatures

E minor – 4/4

Structurally the song is really simple.  For the guitar arrangement I’ve stuck to playing the vocal melody in the verse and chorus, and during the rap parts I’m playing the synth lines instead.  Note that riff 2 only appears in the “big room” version of the song.  All T-ara remixes seem to have that 8 bars near the start of the song that is different on each version and everything else is the same, but the big room riff (which is the second line of the tab page) sounds nice and chunky on electric guitar, so I prefer it over the single version.


My fingering in the video above is slightly different to that in the tab page, the main difference is that I’m doing the end of the pre-chorus on frets 12, 14 and 16 on the G string rather than 8, 10 and 12 on the B string.  This is because I think that the bending is a little more convenient for me to execute on the G string [insert pun here].  There’s also a run down that I do at the end of the second pass through the chorus which goes from the 5th of the minor scale back down to the root note, it’s similar to the vocal melody but not exactly the same.  If you can remember that all the solo patterns are in E minor then it’s a pretty easy song to play with and make your own melodies with if you’re familiar with your minor scale and note/pattern placement.

These scale patterns are sourced from here and might be useful if you need to familiarise yourself with minor scale patterns, but the are all essentially the same pattern anyway.  The black dot is the root note of E and the numbers at the bottom is fret position.

“Sugar Free” is not a very hard song to play, I’d put it at easy to intermediate level, so it’s a fun song to add extra elements to.  The hardest part of the song is probably actually the rapid picking in the intro, at least in terms of getting accuracy correct, and getting the bending to sound good.  At the first pass of the chorus there’s a half-bend the first time, which is different to all the other bends which are whole-tone or “full” bends.  There’s also a sweep-pick that I throw in at the end of the second chorus and the end of the song but that’s just optional and isn’t in the tab, you could put anything there you wanted, slides, solo runs, more pinch harmonics, vibrato etc.  It’s a good song to have fun experimenting with.

Anyway that’s all for this post – Kpopalypse tabs will return soon!

7 thoughts on “Kpopalypse tabs: T-ara – Sugar Free

  1. Hey Kpopalyspe… if you are a trained pianist, does it have any carry over into learning guitar or not so much? And is it still possible to tab easily if you have limited mobility of the pointer finger of your right hand being right handed?

    (It’s a bit of a sob story… (boohoo). But I was training to become a concert pianist my whole young life. Then I developed psoriasis and arthritis in the pointer finger of my left hand, which pretty much ended that career path.)

    I still love music and playing piano but would also love to pick up and learn a new instrument where I would have no limitations. Could guitar be the answer for that, or should I look elsewhere?

    • Having never had your condition, I really can’t say how that would affect things. However in more general terms, having a piano background does help somewhat with guitar. I found guitar pretty easy to pick up when I started learning, mind you I did also practice the ass off it.

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