Guitar lesson for

House of the Rising Sun

by The Animals

Video lesson

Printable version of this lesson

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Chords needed

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    

Chord progressions

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

Strumming pattern

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
>           >

Simple arpeggio

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            

Raked arpeggio

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

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

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