Guitar lesson for

Layla

by Eric Clapton  β€’  Lesson #103

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play the unplugged (acoustic) version of β€œLayla” by Eric Clapton. This lesson includes tabs for the intro riff, chords needed for the entire song, strumming pattern, and various other tips that will prove helpful in learning how to play this song. While this tune was originally released in 1971 by Derek and the Dominos, this lesson obviously is modeled after Clapton’s 1992 release as part of his album β€œUnplugged.”

Video timestamps:

Audio of Eric Clapton playing it

Song chord progressions

Intro & chorus:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Dm      Bb      C       Dm        x3

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Dm      Bb      C       Am  C     x1

Verse:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
C#m7            G#7             C#m7    C   D   E       E7

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
F#m     B       E       A       F#m     B       E       A         

Verse chord shapes

E –––1––––4–––––4––––––––––––––0––––0–––––2––––––––––––––––––
B –––3––––5–––––4––––5––––7––––0––––3–––––2––––3––––4––––2–––
G –––2––––4–––––5––––5––––7––––1––––1–––––2––––3––––4––––2–––
D –––0––––6–––––4––––5––––7––––2––––2–––––4––––3––––4––––2–––
A ––––––––4–––––6––––3––––5––––2––––2–––––4––––1––––2––––0–––
E ––––––––––––––4––––––––––––––0––––0–––––2––––––––––––––––––
     Dm  C#m7  G#7   C    D    E    E7   F#m   Bb   B    A   

Intro riff

First up, note that I am using these chord shapes for the riff. Notably, I am simplifying things by playing only 3 strings per each chord. The notes below in parentheses I’m not playing - you can if you wish, but note it makes things tougher for you.

The idea is to spend two counts on each chord, in the order shown below. Then repeat.

E ––––(1)––––––––––––––––(1)––––
B –––––3––––(3)––––(5)––––3–––––
G –––––2–––––3––––––5–––––2–––––
D –––––0–––––3––––––5–––––0–––––
A –––––––––––1––––––3–––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       Dm    Bb     C     Dm

Here’s the tab for the generalized riff:

E –––––––––(1)–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––(1)––––––
B ––––––––––3––––––––––––(3)––––––––––––(5)–––––––––––––––3–––––––
G ––––––––––2–––––––––––––3––––––––––––––5––––––––––––––––2–––––––
D ––––––––––0––––––0––––––3––––––––––––––5––––––––––––––––0–––––––
A ––––0––3––––––––––––3–––1–––––––1––1–––3–––––––––0––3–––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
            Dm            Bb             C                Dm

When first learning this, I recommend practicing just the bass notes first. For each bass note, be sure to use left-hand fingers that allow you to play the chords you’ll need. This way, when you’re fluent enough with the bass notes, you can work on bringing in the full chords.

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B –––––––––(3)–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––(3)––––––
G –––––––––(2)–––––––––––(3)––––––––––––(5)––––––––––––––(2)––––––
D ––––––––––0––––––0–––––(3)––––––––––––(5)–––––––––––––––0–––––––
A ––––0––3––––––––––––3–––1––––––––––––––3–––––––––0––3–––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
            Dm            Bb             C                Dm

To transition into the verse, end the riff as follows:

E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––––––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––––2–––––––––––––3––––––––––––––5––––––––––––2–––5–––––––
D ––––––––––0––––––0––––––3–––––––3––3–––5––––––x–x–––2–––5–––––––
A ––––0––3––––––––––––3–––1–––––––1––1–––3––––––x–x–––0–––3–––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
            Dm            Bb             C            Am  C   

Strumming pattern options

The patterns I recommend are as follows. First is this simpler (?) one, which uses emphasized/accented down-strums on the β€œ1” and β€œ3” counts, with lighter β€œdown-ups” happening on the β€œ2 +” and β€œ4 +” counts.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D . D U D . D U D . D U D . D U        
>       >       >       >

Spoken, this would be:

"DOWN, down-up DOWN, down-up DOWN, down-up DOWN, down-up"

Another option is to do this more typical strum pattern. I’m showing the down-strum on the β€œ1” count as emphasized/accented, though that’s optional.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D . D U . U D U D . D U . U D U
>               >

Which would be spoken as:

"DOWN, down-up, up-down-up, DOWN, down-up, up-down-up"

Lyrics w/ chords

(intro, played with riff):

Dm   Bb   C   Dm     x3
Dm   Bb   C   Am  C  x1

C#m7                           G#7
...What'll you do when you get lonely
C#m7         C       D       E      E7  
And nobody's waiting by your side
F#m            B           E               A
...You've been running and hiding much too long
F#m              B                 E        A
...You know it's just your foolish pride... Lay----

       Dm   Bb           C            Dm
    Layla........ you've got me on my knees
       Dm   Bb         C                Dm
    Layla......... I'm begging, darling please
       Dm   Bb     C                 Dm              
    Layla......... darling won't you ease my worried
    Dm      Bb     C       Am   C
    Mind....

C#m7                         G#7
...I tried to give you consolation
C#m7             C       D       E      E7  
...When your old man had let you down
F#m       B       E                 A
...Like a fool, I fell in love with you
F#m              B                  E       A
...You turned my whole world upside down... Lay----

        Dm   Bb           C            Dm
     Layla........ you've got me on my knees
        Dm   Bb         C                Dm
     Layla......... I'm begging, darling please
        Dm   Bb     C                 Dm              
     Layla......... darling won't you ease my worried
     Dm      Bb     C       Am   C
     Mind....

C#m7                     G#7
...Make the best of the situation
C#m7        C       D     E      E7  
...Before I finally go insane
F#m             B         E            A
...Please don't say I'll never find a way
F#m            B                 E      A
...And tell me all my love's in vain... Lay----

     [ chorus ]  => [ instrumental chorus w/ solo ] => [ chorus x2 ]

        Dm   Bb           C            Dm
     Layla........ you've got me on my knees
        Dm   Bb         C                Dm
     Layla......... I'm begging, darling please
        Dm   Bb     C  (let ring)                     Dm (let ring, end)
     Layla......... darling won't you ease my worried mind

Advanced notes about the intro riff

Here’s the actual timing of the first line of the riff, as heard in the recorded Clapton version:

E |–––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B |––––––––––3––|––––––––––(3)–––––––––(5)–|–––––––––––3–––––––––––3––|–
G |––––––––––2––|–––––––––––3–––––––––––5––|–––––––––––2–––––––––––2––|–
D |––––––––––0––|–––––0–––––3–––––––––––5––|–––––––––––0–––––––––––0––|–
A |––––0––3–––––|––––––––3––1–––––1––1––3––|–––––3––3––––––––0––3–––––|–
E |–––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
             Dm             Bb          C              Dm          Dm
       +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  

Note that the 2nd and 3rd time he plays this, the timing slightly changes. For example, the C comes in on the β€œ1” count of next measure the 2nd time it is played:

E |–––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B |––––––––––3––|––––––––––(3)–––––––––––––|–(5)–––––––3–––––––––––3––|–
G |––––––––––2––|–––––––––––3––––––––––––––|––5––––––––2–––––––––––2––|–
D |––––––––––0––|–––––0–––––3––––––––––––––|––5––––––––0–––––––––––0––|–
A |––––0––3–––––|––––––––3––1––––––––––––––|––3––0––3––––––––0––3–––––|–
E |–––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
             Dm             Bb                C        Dm          Dm
       +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  

And the third time it is played, he slides up from the Bb to C shape. Listen along for reference, and watch my video lesson to see me play each version.

Hope that helps!

Let me know how things work for you when learning this song! Hopefully well. Hit me up with any comments / questions / etc.

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