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Guitar Chords - House of The Rising Sun

Updated on January 17, 2012

Guitar lesson 2

In Guitar lesson 1 we looked at changing chords from Em to A, as this is one of the easiest things to do on guitar. Obviously, my computer is tilting badly, but I'll fix that later.

House of The Rising Sun is an old cowboy song from way back when, and traditionally one of the first songs you learn on guitar. Usually, it's using A minor chords, but this is a lot easier.

With just 5 chords we can do a good job on this song, strum each chord 6 times. Every bar (the vertical lines) is 6 strums, count 1 2 3 4 5 6, and the B7 is repeated (with a ditto sign) It really is easy, even if you haven't tried guitar before. It transfers very well to piano or keyboard too.

Most songs are in 4/4 or 3/4 time. This means that for each bar of music, you strum either 4 or 3 times. This song is unusual, and works well if you accent beat one of every bar, in other words, play the first beat a little stronger than the others.

There is a House in New Orleans

They Call the Risin' Sun

And it's been the ruin

Of many a poor boy

And Lord, I know, I'm one.

House of The Rising Sun chords

Em scale

At the end I've shown the notes for an Em pentatonic scale. Play fret 3, open on string 1, same on string 2, fret 2 to open on string 3, etc. You can play the notes in any order you like, and they will all fit these chords reasonably well. You could record the chords and play over them, or have some willing compatriot play them for you, by which time you have started a band.

Chords advice

The small crosses mean "Do not Play this string". Line 1 and line 2 start with the same four chords, so memorize them and then just tack on two different endings. I'll generally learn a song in 4 bar chunks, then bolt it together afterwards - it saves a lot of time. If you don't know the lyrics, just do a Google search. There are many websites that you could use, I find to be very useful.If you sing along, which is always a good idea, you may find the melody line is too low or too high for your voice. Consider using a capo to move it to a better key - in many instances the guitar will sound brighter and be easier to play too.

There is a good case for beginners leaving a capo at fret 3 permanently just to make it easier to play songs.

Fingerpicking, VERY EASY!

This is a nice easy song to work on fingerpicking. First, check the numbering system: string 6 is the thickest string, string 1 is the thinnest and highest in pitch. A general principle: play the lowest note or bass note with your thumb, all the rest with first finger or some combination of fingers.

6 4 3 2 3 4 is the pattern for the first 2 chords, as they both have their root note on string 6.

5 4 3 2 3 4 is used on the A and C and B7 chords, as they are root 5.

So the pattern is the same, just the bass note has gone across one string. Remember, the thumb plays this note.

You can use this kind of method for nearly any song.

Why six notes? Because we are in 6/8 time, and there are six beats in every bar.

When fingerpicking it's a good idea to anchor your hand on the guitar and to keep your hand fairly flat and close to the strings.


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    • profile image

      Keira7  7 years ago

      You have a big thank you from my son. He does go on your web, but is very shy to leave some comment.:)Thanks for your help and your mail.:)

    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks Keira, all the best to you.This is a nice easy one!

    • profile image

      Keira7 7 years ago

      Hi Jon, thank you for all the work you do. As you know my son and I really appreciate your hubs. Thanks for sharing. Bless you and all your loved ones.:)