Guitar lesson for

Tennessee Whiskey

by Chris Stapleton

Video lesson

Coming soon!

Lyrics w/ chords

(50 bpm, 6/8 time)

INTRO

    E –––––––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––––––2––  ––––––––––––––––––2––  E –––––––––––––––––––
    B ––––––––––––––––2––  ––––––––––––––––––3––  ––––––––––––––––––3––  B ––––––––––––––––2––
    G ––––––––––––––––2––  ––––––––––––––––––4––  ––––––––––––––––––4––  G ––––––––––––––––2––
    D ––––––––––––––––2––  ––––––––––––––––––4––  ––––––––––––––––––4––  D ––––––––––––––––2––
    A ––––––––0––/4–––0––  –/4––2––0––/4––2––2––  –/4––4––4––/4––2––2––  A –/4––2–––0h2–0––0––
    E ––0––2–––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––––––––  E –––––––––––––––––––
                      A                      Bm                     Bm                     A

VERSE
    A                                        Bm
    ...I used to spend my nights out in a barroom
    Bm                                     A
    ...Liquor was the only love I've known----
    A                                              Bm
    ...But you rescued me from reaching for the bottom
                   Bm                             A
    And brought me back from being... too far gone

CHORUS
                  A                         Bm
        You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey...
                  Bm                        A
        You're as sweet---- as strawberry wine
                  A                             Bm
        You're as warm---- as a glass of brandy
                          Bm                            A
        And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time

    A                                              Bm
    ...I've looked for love in all the same old places
    Bm                                        A
    ...Found the bottom of a bottle always dry----
    A                                               Bm
    ...But when you poured out your heart I didn't waste it
                     Bm                                  A
    'Cause there's nothing like your love to get me high-----

        [ chorus ]

        [ solo ]

        [ chorus ]

                  A                       Bm
        You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
                      Bm                   A
        Tennessee whiskey... Tennessee whiskey
                  A                       Bm
        You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
                      Bm                   A
        Tennessee whiskey... Tennessee whiskey

How to play the chords

Two chords for the entire song! Can’t go wrong with that. Without a capo, they look like this. Note, I’m showing the chords for the no capo version (A and Bm), but am also including the chords if you want to add a capo to the 2nd fret (G and Am) – which might be helpful if you can’t easily play B-minor yet.

No capo:                     Capo 2nd fret:

E ––––0–––––2–––––           E ––––3–––––0–––––
B ––––2–––––3–––––           B ––––0–––––1–––––
G ––––2–––––4–––––           G ––––0–––––2–––––
D ––––2–––––4–––––           D ––––0–––––2–––––
A ––––0–––––2–––––           A ––––2–––––0–––––
E ––––––––––––––––           E ––––3–––––––––––
      A     Bm                     G     Am    

Chord progression & rhythm

Now that we have the chords, let’s talk a moment about rhythm, timing, and when to switch chords. Straight up, this song uses the exact same progression for the entire song - for intro, verse, chorus, and solo sections. That makes it super easy to remember! The progression looks like this:

A           A           Bm          Bm          Bm          Bm          A           A
1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Six counts per each measure. The chord change always happens on the “1” count. Note how this equates to 2 measures of A-major, 4 measures of B-minor, and finally 2 measures of A-major. Then it all repeats, over and over again.

Strumming pattern

Given the chord progression, let’s talk about strumming. You have a few options, and they all will be based around putting an accent (extra emphasis) on the “1” and “4” counts of each measure. Start by doing a single down strum on the “1” and “4”. This would be spoken as “down… down… down… down…”

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +  
d           d   
>           >

From there, you could spice it up by doing a down strum on every count - but keeping the emphasis on the “1” and “4” counts. All other counts should get a light feathery strum. This trains your strumming hand to always be moving in the correct rhythm, regardless of strum power. This would be spoken as “DOWN down down DOWN down down DOWN down down” (etc).

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +  
d   d   d   d   d   d   
>           >

Now, to play the exact strum you hear on the album version of this song, you’ll want to use this pattern. Note, how the accent on the “1” and “4” still exists, even though you’re adding additional down and up strums. This would be spoken as “DOWN… up down up DOWN… up down up DOWN… up down up” (etc).

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +  
d     u d u d    u d u
>           >

Spicing up the chord voicings

A few ways to spice things up, should you want. For one, this is a great song to play the A-major chord with a barred index finger (across all the 2nd fret notes, with the high E-string muted). This makes the B-minor easier to switch to, since your left index finger is already barring most of that fret. Also, it allows for easier muting of all the strings - which I cover later in this lesson.

E ––––x–––––  <== muted by left index
B ––––2–––––  <== left index (barred)
G ––––2–––––  <== left index (barred)
D ––––2–––––  <== left index (barred)
A ––––0–––––
E ––––––––––
      A

We’ll also have a very pleasing addition to the A-chord at the end of each 8-bar sequence. Specifically, we’ll be adding what sounds like an Asus4 for a few strums, before going back to an A major. You can play this in a few ways. If you do the bad-ass version shown below, you’ll want to barre the A-major chord, then bring on your left ring & middle fingers to play the 4th and 2nd strings (respectively).

Easy version:                    Bad-ass version:

E ––––0––––0––––0–––             E ––––x––––x––––x–––
B ––––2––––3––––2–––             B ––––2––––3––––2–––
G ––––2––––2––––2–––             G ––––2––––2––––2–––
D ––––2––––2––––2–––             D ––––2––––4––––2–––
A ––––0––––0––––0–––             A ––––0––––0––––0–––
E ––––––––––––––––––             E ––––––––––––––––––
      A  Asus4  A                      A   D/A   A   

Using a percussive strum style

Now, the strumming patterns above might be all you’re looking for. But if you want to dial up the dynamics a little bit, let’s look at some ways to add some percussive spice to your strumming. For starters, use this tab when playing each chord. Pluck the bass note on the 1 count, and strum the rest of the chord on the 4 count.

E ––––––––0–––––     E ––––––––2––––––        
B ––––––––2–––––     B ––––––––3––––––        
G ––––––––2–––––     G ––––––––4––––––        
D ––––––––2–––––     D ––––––––4––––––        
A ––0–––––––––––     A ––2––––––––––––        
E ––––––––––––––     E –––––––––––––––
    A                    Bm
    1 2 3 4 5 6          1 2 3 4 5 6
          >                    >

Also, if you can, silence the chord immediately after the 4 count. Do this by touching either your left or right hand lightly against all the strings (release the chord shape with your left hand, even if you keep your fingers touching the strings).

E ––––––––0–x–––     E ––––––––2–x––––        
B ––––––––2–x–––     B ––––––––3–x––––        
G ––––––––2–x–––     G ––––––––4–x––––        
D ––––––––2–x–––     D ––––––––4–x––––        
A ––0–––––––x–––     A ––2–––––––x––––        
E ––––––––––x–––     E ––––––––––x––––
    A                    Bm          
    1 2 3 4 5 6          1 2 3 4 5 6
          >                    >

Given this, you can go through the entire chord progression using this chord style - and it adds a very nice percussive sound with your guitar. Very handy if you don’t have a band playing with you!

E ––––––––0–x–––––––––0–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––0–x–––––––––0–x–––
B ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
G ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
D ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
A ––0–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––
E ––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––––––––––x–––
    A           A           Bm          Bm          Bm          Bm          A           A            
    1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Adding some walking bass notes

Want to imitate the sound of the bass you hear on the album version of this song? Here’s how! Simply use this pattern:

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
D ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A ––0–––––––––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––
E ––––––––––––2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––––2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––––2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––––2–0–––2–0–––2–
    A           A           Bm          Bm          Bm          Bm          A           A            
    1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Once you have this, if you want, you can try to squeeze in some quick chord strums on some of the “4” counts. Note, this can be tough with regard to timing! But give it a try - feels great and really starts to make the dots connect.

E ––––––––––x–––––––––––––––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––––––––––x–––––––––––––––
B ––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––––––––3–x–––––––––––––––––––––3–x–––––––––––––––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––––––––4–x–––––––––––––––––––––4–x–––––––––––––––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––
D ––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––––––––4–x–––––––––––––––––––––4–x–––––––––––––––––––––2–x–––––––––––––––
A ––0–––––0–x–––––––––––––––2–––––2–x–––––––––––––––2–––––2–x–––––––––––––––0–––––0–x–––––––––––––––
E ––––––––––x–2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––x–2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––x–2–0–––2–0–––2–––––––––x–2–0–––2–0–––2–
    A           A           Bm          Bm          Bm          Bm          A           A            
    1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Or, you could go back to the prior exercise (bass note => single strum) and bring in a single walking bass note. As follows:

E ––––––––0–x–––––––––0–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––0–x–––––––––0–x–––
B ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––3–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
G ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
D ––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––4–x–––––––––2–x–––––––––2–x–––
A ––0–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––2–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––0–––––––x–––
E ––––––––––x–0–––––––––x–2–––––––––x–2–––––––––x–2–––––––––x–2–––––––––x–0–––––––––x–0–––––––––x–0–
    A           A           Bm          Bm          Bm          Bm          A           A            
    1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Intro licks

Here’s the lead licks that are heard in the intro to the song. Note, these licks all begin on the “4” count of the measure they’re in (exception: the third lick starts on the “5” count). This includes when the song begins, which is on the “4” count of lead-in measure before the first full measure of the song. After each lick, the full chord that follows gets its complete strum on the “4” count of the following measure.

Also, I recommend you try this riff using just one finger (left index) for all the lead notes. This helps the slides fall into place much more easily. Using your left index finger allows it to easily be in position to play the full chords, if that’s your goal. See my video lesson for reference here - it will help big time.

E –––––––––––––––(0)–  –––––––––––––––––––(2)–  ––––––––––––––––––(2)–  E –––––––––––––––(0)–
B –––––––––––––––(2)–  –––––––––––––––––––(3)–  ––––––––––––––––––(3)–  B –––––––––––––––(2)–
G –––––––––––––––(2)–  –––––––––––––––––––(4)–  ––––––––––––––––––(4)–  G –––––––––––––––(2)–
D –––––––––––––––(2)–  –––––––––––––––––––(4)–  ––––––––––––––––––(4)–  D –––––––––––––––(2)–
A ––––––––0––/4––(0)–  ––/4––2––0––/4––2––(2)–  ––/4––4––4––2–––––(2)–  A ––/4––2––0––0––(0)–
E ––0––2–––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––––––––––  E –––––––––––––––––––
                  A                       Bm                      Bm                      A

Typed out in tab form with the counting included, it would look like this. The key thing to notice here is how the first lick comes in on the 4-5-6 counts of a partial measure that preceeds the first full measure.

E ––––––––|–––––––0–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–––––––0––––––––––––––––––|–
B ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––3––––––––––––––––––|–––––––3––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–
G ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–
D ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–
A ––––––0–|–4–––––0–––––––––––––4–2–0–|–4–2–––2––––––––––––––4–4–|–4–2–––2––––––––––––4–2–0–|–0–––––0––––––––––––––––0–|–
E ––0–2–––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––0–2–––|–
                  A                           Bm                         Bm                         A
    4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6  

Intro licks with added basslines and chord strums

This is my favorite! It takes the distinctive intro licks, but also adds some chord strums as well as some tidbits from the bassline tab we looked at earlier.

E ––––––––|–––––––0–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––3––––––––––––––––––|–––––––3––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2h3––––2–––––––––––|–
G ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2––––––2–––––––––––|–
D ––––––––|–––––––2–––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––4––––––––––––––––––|–––––––2h4––––2–––––––––––|–
A ––––––0–|–4–––––0–––––––––––0–4–2–0–|–4–2–––2––––––––––––––4–4–|–4–2–––2––––––––––0–4–2–0–|–0–––––0––––––0–––––––––0–|–
E ––0–2–––|–––––––––––2–––0–––––––––––|–––––––––––2––0–––2–0–––––|–––––––––––2––0–––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––0–2–––|–
                  A                           Bm                         Bm                         A
    4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6   1 2 3 4 5 6  1 2 3 4 5 6  

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