Guitar lesson for

Paper Ships

by Dead Mans Bones

Video lesson

Chords w/ lyrics

INTRO
    G ... B7 ... C ... G ... (x4, with doo-bee-doo-wah)

VERSE
    G                      B7
    ...Sailed on a ship of paper
          C                        G
    And I sank in the deep of your eyes
    G                     B7
    ...I got lost in your graveyard
          C                 G
    Now I dream on a bed of knives

    G                          B7
    ...I found the map to your maps
    C                        G
    ...I lost the shores for you
    G                         B7
    ...But now I'll never get back
                 C                 G
    'Cause I'm a ghost ship on the blue

PRE-CHORUS
          Bm                C
        .....Now, I hold my poems
          Bm              C
        .....For ladies unknown

CHORUS
              Cm              G
            Until my hands go weak
              Cm              G
            Oh.......... I'll be
              Cm              G               Em
            Oh............... la la la la la, la la la la la
              C          Cm     G
            A ghost ship on the blue

    (quieter, let chords ring)
    G                       B7
    ...The birds are in the sky
    C                           G
    ...The land's been gone for days
    G                       B7
    ...And all you left was time-----
       C            G
    To find a solid grave

    (louder, back to normal strumming)
    G                B7
    ...Pirates never loved
    C                 G
    ...The way that I do
    G                  B7
    ...You never said enough
       C               G
    To keep me next to you

    (instrumental break)

          Bm                C
        .....Now, I hold my poems
          Bm              C
        .....For ladies unknown

              Cm              G
            Until my hands go weak
              Cm              G
            Oh.......... I'll be
              Cm              G               Em
            Oh............... la la la la la, la la la la la
              C          Cm     G
            A ghost ship on the blue

Notes and tabs

Guitar chords used

Here is how to play the guitar chords used in this song. It is fairly standard using chords in the key of G, but you have some interesting chords being Cm and B7, which aren’t super common. Just the same, this is a great chord to learn those chords.

e-|----3----2----0----2----3----0-----
B-|----0----0----1----3----4----0-----
G-|----0----2----0----4----5----0-----
D-|----0----1----2----4----5----2-----
A-|----2----2----3----2----3----2-----
E-|----3------------------------0-----
       G    B7   C    Bm   Cm   Em

Playing the pre-chorus

One quick trick here – when you switch from the Bm to the C chord, apply your pinky on the 3rd fret of the highest string. This will sound better with the melodic voicing of the song.

e-|---2------------3--------2---------------3-------
B-|---3------------1--------3---------------1-------
G-|---4------------0--------4---------------0-------
D-|---4------------2--------4---------------2-------
A-|---2------------3--------2---------------3-------
E-|-------------------------------------------------
      Bm           C        Bm              C
     "So I hold my poems...    for ladies unknown..."

Playing the chorus

Similar to above, there is a little trick you can use here that makes the Cm to G transition easier. Instead of playing the G in open position, play it as a barre chord on the 3rd fret. Because you’ll already have the 3rd fret barred for the Cm, this makes the transition much easier.

e-|-----3---------------3--------3------------3----
B-|-----4---------------3--------4------------3----
G-|-----5---------------4--------5------------4----
D-|-----5---------------5--------5------------5----
A-|-----3---------------5--------3------------5----
E-|---------------------3---------------------3----
        Cm              G        Cm           G
     "Until my hands go weak... ohh..... I'll be..."

Chord progressions

INTRO
| G . . . | B7 . . . | C . . . | G . . . | x4

VERSE
"Sailed on a ship of paper..."
| G . . . | B7 . . . | C . . . | G . . . | x4

PRE-CHORUS
"So I hold my poems..."
| Bm . . . | C . . . | Bm . . . | C . . . |

CHORUS
"Until my hands go weak, oh..."
| Cm . . . | G . . . | Cm . . . | G . . . |
| Cm . . . | G . . . | Em . . . | C . . . |
| Cm . . . | G . . . |

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you.

Enjoy this lesson? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider donating to my tip jar. Contributions of _any_ amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it). Thanks!


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!


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.


← back to lesson list