Guitar lesson for

Banana Pancakes

by Jack Johnson  •  Lesson #148

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this video I’ll teach you how to play “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson - complete with chords, strumming pattern, and intro tab. This is one of my favorite Jack Johnson songs to play, even though it requires quite a bit of practice to get down smoothly! I hope this lesson helps.

Lyrics w/ chords

See my sheet music for the lyrics, with chords typed above.

Chord progression cheat sheet

The two progressions used for most of the song look like this. Note how in the verse, you’re on each chord for 2 counts. In the chorus and bridge, you stay on each chord for 8 counts.

See my sheet music for the chord progression diagrams.

How to play the chords

Here are how to play the guitar chords used in this song, notably in the bar chord style that Jack Johnson uses. Note, these are tough – especially if your goal is to play the entire song (muscles can get tired). If you don’t know barre chords yet, see the net section. Also - you can omit the “7” note of each of these chords if you want (e.g., turn G7 into a G). I’m including them here because that’s how Jack Johnson plays most chords in most songs - but it isn’t truly required in a strict sense.

e ––––3–––––5–––––5–––––3–––––7–––––7–––––
B ––––3–––––7–––––5–––––5–––––7–––––8–––––
G ––––4–––––5–––––5–––––3–––––7–––––7–––––
D ––––3–––––7–––––5–––––5–––––7–––––9–––––
A ––––5–––––5–––––7–––––3–––––9–––––7–––––
E ––––3–––––––––––5–––––––––––7–––––––––––
      G7    D7    Am7   C7   Bm7   Em7

If the above chords are giving you trouble (which is okay, they’re tough) - then use the standard open chords. You can combine these with the main riff and things sound just fine! To be honest, when I play this song complete from end to end, I usually have to use these open chords sometimes just because my hand/wrist muscles get fatigued from dealing with the barre chords.

e ––––3–––––2–––––0–––––0–––––2–––––0–––––
B ––––0–––––1–––––1–––––1–––––3–––––0–––––
G ––––0–––––2–––––2–––––0–––––4–––––0–––––
D ––––0–––––0–––––2–––––2–––––4–––––2–––––
A ––––2–––––––––––0–––––3–––––2–––––2–––––
E ––––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–––––
      G     D7    Am    C     Bm    Em

How to Play the Riff

There is one distinct riff used throughout this song. Here is how you play it. You’ll want to use your ring finger on the lowest E string, and initially slide your finger up to the 7th fret (which is the first proper note of the riff).

See my sheet music for the tab.

To properly transition from this riff into the G7 or Am7 chord, you’ll need to add the bass note for the chord to the tail end of the riff. Here is the complete intro tabbed in context, using the core of the riff above.

See my sheet music for the tab.

Here’s a secondary version of the riff, used occasionally:

See my sheet music for the tab.

Occasional verse filler riff

There’s a riff I play 0:17 seconds into my video lesson that I want to show the tab for here. It happens during the verse progression (G7-D7-Am7-C7)… where instead of going to the final “C7” chord I do this riff immediately after the Am7. The riff happens under the “*” asterisk shown below.

See my sheet music for the tab.

Strumming patterns and rhythm

This is the final piece of the puzzle. To play this like Jack Johnson, there are in fact two distinct strumming patterns used in this song: one during the verse, and another during the chorus & bridge. You can of course strum things however you want, but I’ll teach you both of these patterns now.

Verse strum pattern

This strum pattern has a very distinct accented strum on the “2” and “4” counts - which is muted immediately after it’s played. To mute (silence) the strings, use the fleshy part of your right hand’s palm to lightly touch all strings - see my video lesson for reference. Another tip: notice how the bass note of each chord is played on the “1” and “3” counts. Again listen to the song and see my video lesson for reference.

Here’s a simple way to write it (though this doesn’t show some of the intricacies of muting the strings and targeting the bass notes).

See my sheet music for the strumming diagrams.

Chorus & bridge strumming pattern

This one is a bit more constant and less punctuated. You still want to keep the accent on the 2 and 4, but in this case those counts will have a muted downstrum that’s accented. This is very common for Jack Johnson. See my video lesson for reference!

See my sheet music for the strumming diagrams.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you. Questions? Comments? Requests? Let me know!

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