Guitar lesson for
House of the Rising Sun
PDF print-out of this lesson
If you’d like a print-friendly PDF of this lesson for offline use, view my downloads page. You’ll find it there!
E –––0––––0––––2––––1—–—–0–––– ––––0—–—– B –––1––––1––––3––––1—–—–0–––– ––––1—–—– If the F gives you a hard G –––2––––0––––2––––2—–—–1–––– ––––2—–—– time, use this 3-finger D –––2––––2––––0––––3—–—–2–––– ––––3—–—– version (leave high-E open). A –––0––––3–––––––——–––––2–––– ––——––––– E ––––––––––––––—–—––––––0–––– —–—–––––– Am C D F E F
The entire song uses the following progressions:
INTRO Am C D F Am E Am E VERSE "There is a house in New Orleans..." Am C D F "They call the rising sun..." Am C E E "It's been the ruin of many a poor boy..." Am C D F "And God, I know I'm one" Am E Am E
At its simplest, you want to accent the “1” and “4” beats within a 6 beat measure. Use downstrums for these:
1 2 3 4 5 6 D D
From there, you could fill things in a bit by adding additional downstrums on all other beats. Just be sure to maintain your accents on “1” and “4”:
1 2 3 4 5 6 D d d D d d > >
Taking it even further, you can add in some upstrums as shown here:
1 2 3 4 5 6 D d u d u D d u d u > >
If you want to roughly mimic the guitar sound of The Animals, you’ll want to pluck individual strings. The easiest way to do this is to (1) play the three lowest notes of the chord, using downstrums; then (3) play the three highest note that same chord, using upstrums. Per the 6 counts per measure, that looks like:
v = downstrum ^ = upstrum E ––––––––0–––––– ––––––––0–––––– ––––––––2–––––– ––––––––1–––––– ––––––––0–––––– B ––––––––––1–––– ––––––––––1–––– ––––––3–––3–––– ––––––1–––1–––– ––––––––––0–––– G ––––––2–––––2–– ––––––0–––––0–– ––––2–––––––2–– ––––2–––––––2–– ––––––––––––1–– D ––––2–––––––––– ––––2–––––––––– ––0–––––––––––– ––3–––––––––––– ––––––2–––––––– A ––0–––––––––––– ––3–––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––2–––––––––– E ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––0–––––––––––– v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v ^ ^ ^ v v v ^ ^ ^ Am C D F E
If you want to truly mimic the sound of The Animals version, you’ll need to use a “raked” downstrum for the 2 and 3 counts. By raked, I mean a single downstrum played in a single smooth motion, playing multiple strings. This is actually tough to do in a way that sounds consistent across all chords. One challenge is the fact that some strings use 4 strings, others use 5 strings, and others use 6 strings. A key to the rake motion is to not play the highest E string as part of the A-minor, C-major, and E-major chords. For the F-major and D-major it’s okay to play the high-E string as part of the rake, since you only have 4 strings in total to work with.
v = downstrum ^ = upstrum ~ = raked downstrum (single motion, multiple strings) E –––––––––0–––––– –––––––––0–––––– ––––––––2–––––– ––––––––1–––––– ––––––––0–––––– B –––––––1–––1–––– –––––––1–––1–––– ––––––3–––3–––– ––––––1–––1–––– ––––––0–––0–––– G ––––––2––––––2–– ––––––0––––––0–– –––––2––––––2–– –––––2––––––2–– –––––1––––––1–– D –––––2–––––––––– –––––2–––––––––– ––0–0–––––––––– ––3–3–––––––––– ––––2–––––––––– A ––0–0––––––––––– ––3–3––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– –––2––––––––––– E –––––––––––––––– –––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––– ––0–––––––––––– v ~~~~ ^ ^ ^ v ~~~~ ^ ^ ^ v ~~~ ^ ^ ^ v ~~~ ^ ^ v ~~~ ^ ^ Am C D F E
Lyrics w/ chords
Am C D F Am C E There is a house in New Orleans... they call the Rising Sun Am C D F Am E Am E And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy... and God I know I'm one [ use same chord progression for each remaining verse ] My mother was a tailor... she sewed my new bluejeans My father was a gambling man... down in New Orleans Now the only thing a gambler needs... is a suitcase and trunk And the only time he's satisfied... is when he's on, a drunk Oh mother tell your children... not to do what I have done Spend your lives in sin and misery... in the House of the Rising Sun Well, I got one foot on the platform... the other foot on the train I'm going back to New Orleans... to wear that ball and chain Well, there is a house in New Orleans... they call the Rising Sun And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy... and God I know I'm one
Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
You can also support me on Patreon. For only $3/month you'll get access to a print-friendly PDF of my notes for each lesson.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
- Transitioning between Em7 - D/F# - G (Warm Up #7)
Oct 24, 2018
- Maybe It's Time by Bradley Cooper
Oct 18, 2018
- "Pretty Woman" lick, played 4 ways
Oct 13, 2018
- Shallow by Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga
Oct 11, 2018
- Mudfootball G-D7 shuffle (Warm Up #6)
Oct 7, 2018
- A-minor murder ballad groove (Warm Up #5)
Oct 2, 2018
- How to play Fadd9
Sept 27, 2018
- Blaze Foley country strumming (Warm Up #4)
Sept 25, 2018
- Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis
Sept 22, 2018
- "Sultans of Swing" chorus lick (Warm Up #3)
Sept 19, 2018
- Learning how to Travis Pick with "Clay Pigeons"
Sept 13, 2018
- Lady May by Tyler Childers
Sept 7, 2018
- Easy E Fingerpicking (Warm Up #2)
Sept 3, 2018
- I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash
Aug 29, 2018
- Norwegian Wood by The Beatles
August 14, 2018
- Double Drop D & "The Chain" Intro
August 7, 2018
- Pinky stretch tips for D-major
August 4, 2018
- Q&A: How to sing and strum at same time?
August 2, 2018
- Lola by The Kinks
July 31, 2018
- My original binder of song notes
July 28, 2018
- Simple blues riff in Drop-D
July 25, 2018
- Playing around in Drop-D
July 20, 2018
- Rocky Mountain High by John Denver
July 17, 2018
- When the Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
June 25, 2018
- We Are the Champions by Queen
June 16, 2018
- My My, Hey Hey by Neil Young
June 9, 2018
- Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns N' Roses
June 3, 2018
Monthly email updates
If you want to keep posted of new lessons over email, sign up for my newsletter. I'll email once a month with a digest of all my new videos. I promise: no spam.