Fingerstyle Guitar

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – #Fingerstyle #Guitar #Tablature – Dropped D Tuning


This song may present a little bit of a challenge if you’re a beginner, but it will also give you some valuable practice on changing chords since the chords change twice in most measures. I arranged two accompaniment patterns. This one is the simpler of the two and really just consists of a simple strum with each chord change. Note that this first arrangement is in STANDARD TUNING.


The second accompaniment arrangement is meant to be played fingerstyle and features “Dropped D” tuning. This tuning is fairly common when playing in the key of D, especially among fingerpickers. In Dropped D, the only thing different than in standard tuning is that the 6th string is tuned down one whole tone, from E to D. This enables you to play the bass note an octave lower than in standard tuning. When playing in Dropped D you will need to compensate for the change in the 6th string. This means that the chord formations that use the 6th string need to be adjusted accordingly. Notice the diagram below for the G chord. Ordinarily the bass note for G is the 6th string 3rd fret. In Dropped D the bass note needs to go up two more frets, so now it is played on the 6th string 5th fret. That may seem overly complicated if you are a beginner, but after you gain more experience you may appreciate the different results that you are able to achieve with this tuning.

To accompany the singing I intentionally stayed away from the 1st string in this case. You don’t always have to do that but in this instance it sounded better to me and will probably be easier for most people to play because the pattern remains the same. Play all of the notes on the 2nd string with your middle finger and all of the notes on the 3rd string with your index finger. All of the bass notes (4th, 5th, and 6th strings) should be played with your thumb.


The next arrangement is the solo I played in the recording between a couple of the verses. Be sure your 6th string is tuned down 1 whole tone (2 frets) from E to D. The melody notes are exactly the same as the melody notes in the basic Melody & Accompaniment arrangement.

When playing this solo you are really playing two parts concurrently: the melody on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings and an alternating bass pattern on the 4th, 5th, and 6th strings. Use your thumb for all of the bass notes. For the treble strings (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) you should generally use your middle finger to play notes that are played at the same time as the bass notes are played (thereby creating kind of a “pinch” with the thumb and middle finger) and use the index finger to play the notes that are not played along with a bass note. That may not always work, but in this case it does.

Those Gamblers Blues (St. James Infirmary) – #Travis #Picking #Guitar #Tablature

This song was published in Carl Sandburg’s book “The American Songbag,” in 1927 as “Those Gambler’s Blues.” Most references that I could find regarding the song “St. James Infirmary” say that it was written and copyrighted by Joe Primrose in 1929. It’s definitely the same song, and Carl Sandburg not only didn’t mention Joe Primrose in 1927, he spoke of the song as if it was already an old song with apparently no known author.

I haven’t recorded it but I’m including an easy Melody & Accompaniment arrangement with strumming and a fingerstyle Travis Picking arrangement.


Melody & Accompaniment:


Travis Picking:

Star Spangled Banner – #Fingerstyle #Guitar #Tablature and #Easy #Strumming

I did a couple different videos from my original MP3 recording of our National Anthem a while back while experimenting with different ideas about how to present songs. I’m including both of them here as well as the PDF tablature arrangements.

The first video presents the chords and lyrics so you can strum along with the chords or whatever.


The next video features my same recording but in this one the fingerstyle guitar tablature is presented four measures at a time so you can play exactly what I’m playing. I should point out that the arrangement isn’t really too difficult to play but it definitely takes some practice to sing it and play it at the same time.


Here’s a PDF of the fingerstyle arrangement from the video.


Finally, here’s a simplified arrangement if you don’t want to do all of that fingerpicking. It’s just a simple strum at each chord change.

John B Sails (Sloop John B) – Calypso Pattern Picking #Guitar #Tablature

“The John B. Sails” is a traditional song with a calypso beat.  The song was made popular in the 1960s by artists such as The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, and others who recorded it as “Sloop John B.” It was published as a traditional folk song in Carl Sandburg’s “The American Songbag” in 1927. At that time he said of the song, “Time and usage have given this song almost the dignity of a national anthem around Nassau.”

I wasn’t able to upload this to YouTube because they said it violated a copyright. I think they’re wrong, but it’s an argument I can’t win. I embedded the MP3 here so you can hear it…


House of the Rising Sun – Pattern Picking for Guitar


House of the Rising Sun provides great practice for beginners because all of the chords are basic chords that you will use many times in the future. The melody notes in the “Melody & Accompaniment” arrangement are very simple and should be fairly easy even if you are just starting out. This song has been recorded by everybody from the Animals to Doc Watson and everybody does it a little differently. My recording is a combination of the 6/8 arpeggio pattern and the 4/4 pattern picking arrangements but you can play the song any way you choose to.


Melody & Accompaniment:


6/8 Time Arpeggio:

(I played this at the beginning of the recording)


4/4 Time “Pattern Picking”:

(This is what I played while singing the verses in the recording)


Intermediate Flatpick Solo:

(This is not on the recording but is another example of how you can play the song)

Hard Time Killin’ Floor – #Acoustic #Blues #Guitar #Tablature

My version sounds a little different than the movie version (O Brother Where Art Thou) but they are fairly close. The timing is approximate. Be sure to tune your guitar in crossnote tuning. This is a tuning that I’ve heard was fairly popular with the old-time bluesmen but this is the only song I know in crossnote tuning (DADFAD). If you’re familiar with open D tuning, the only difference here is that the 3rd string is tuned down to F instead of F#, which results in an open D minor (Dm) chord.



Here’s the tablature:

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