Guitar lesson for

Norwegian Wood

by The Beatles  β€’  Lesson #169

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll show you how to play β€œNorwegian Wood” by the Beatles, complete with a detailed breakdown of the intro riff (with tab!). I’ll teach you the chords, strumming pattern, and give some general practice advice for learning the riff - which can be difficult to get the hang of at first.

Lesson timestamps:

Lyrics w/ chords

(Capo 2nd fret)

INTRO (play twice):

E ––––2–2–2–2–––––––––––2–2–2–2–––––––––––2–2–––––––––––2–2–2–2—––––2–2–2–2––
B ––––3–3–3–3–––––––––––3–3–3–3–––––––––––3–3–––––––––––3–3–3–3—––––3–3–3–3––
G ––––2–2–2–2––4–2–0––––2–2–2–2––––0––––––2–2–––––0–––––2–2–2–2—––––2–2–2–2––
D ––0––––––––––––––––4––4–4–4–4––2–––4–0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–3–––2–0–––––––––––0–––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––


    D (with riff)                            C            D
    I once had a girl, or should I say...... she once had me
    D (with riff)                            C         D
    She showed me her room, isn’t it good... Norwegian wood

            Dm                                          G
        She asked me to stay, and she told me to sit anywhere
           Dm                                            Em     A7
        So I looked around, and I noticed there wasn’t a chair

    D (with riff)                      C            D
    I sat on the rug biding my time... drinking her wine
    D (with riff)                             C             D
    We talked until two, and then she said... it's time for bed

    [ Break: D-riff x2 ]

            Dm                                                G
        She told me she worked in the morning, and started to laugh
          Dm                                                 Em    A7
        I told her I didn’t, and crawled off to sleep in the bath

    D (with riff)                    C             D
    And when I awoke, I was alone... this bird had flown
    D (with riff)                      C         D
    So, I lit a fire, isn’t it good... Norwegian wood

    [ Ending: D-riff x1 ]

How to play the chords

E ––2––––0––––1––––3––––0––––0–––
B ––3––––1––––3––––0––––0––––2–––
G ––2––––0––––2––––0––––0––––0–––
D ––0––––2––––0––––0––––2––––2–––
A –––––––3–––––––––2––––2––––0–––
E –––––––––––––––––3––––0––––––––
    D    C    Dm   G    Em   A7

Chord progression

Unlike most rock songs, this doesn’t have 4 beats per measure. You can think of it as having 3 or 6 beats per measure – with the 6 beat approach being shown below. Spoken aloud, this would be as follows… notice the accent/emphasis on the β€œ1” and β€œ4” counts.

ONE two three FOUR five six

Typed out as progressions, this would be as follows. The chords are written out on the 1 and 4 counts of each measure below.

| D . . D . . | D . . D . . | D . . C . . | D . . D . . |

| Dm . . Dm . . | Dm . . Dm . . | G  . . G  . . | G  . . G  . . |
| Dm . . Dm . . | Dm . . Dm . . | Em . . Em . . | A7 . . A7 . . |

Easy strum version

The simplest strumming pattern would be doing a down-strum on only the 1 and 4 counts. You can skip the riff, only do these 1 and 4 downstrums, and absolutely play this song from start to finish.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +       D = down strum
D           D

If you don’t want to bother with the lead riff, you can use this strum pattern for the entire song (DOWN, down-up-down… DOWN, down-up-down…). Written out with counting, it looks as follows:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +       D = down strum     U = up strum
D   D U D U D   D U D U       > = accented strum
>           >

And in tab form, it would be like this. If you can try to play the bass note of the chord you’re playing on the β€œ1” count, and the rest of that chord’s strings on the down-up-down strums.

E ––––––2–2–2–2–––––––2–2–2–2–––
B ––––––3–3–3–3–––––––3–3–3–3–––
G ––––––2–2–2–2–––––––2–2–2–2–––
D ––0–––––––––––––0–––––––––––––       D = down strum
A ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––       U = up strum
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    D   D U D U   D   D U D U
    >             >

Advice for learning the riff

First up, you’ll need to brush up on your pinky reach skills. I made a video about this, with Norwegian Wood in mind. Watch it here:

Second, I recommend a β€œdown strum”-only version of the tab, where you don’t use any up-strums. This helps you get the feel of things before moving to the more difficult versions below. Note, all notes/strums shown below are separated by exactly one beat!

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

Then, I recommend moving on to the following tab. The only thing different (from the β€œfinal” tab at the bottom) is the 3rd riff sequence is simplified by one note, shown by the asterisk below. Note, this tab brings in the β€œdown-up-down-up” clusters which happen on the β€œ2 and 3 and” counts, with the up-strums happening on the β€œand” counts. All the single bass notes happen on the numbered counts, e.g. β€œONE two-and-three-and FOUR FIVE SIX ONE two-and-three-and” etc.

E ––––2–2–2–2–––––––––––2–2–2–2––––––––––2–2–2–2–––––––––2–2–2β€”2–––2–2–2–2––
B ––––3–3–3–3–––––––––––3–3–3–3––––––––––3–3–3–3–––––––––3–3–3β€”3–––3–3–3–3––
G ––––2–2–2–2––4–2–0––––2–2–2–2––––0–––––2–2–2–2–––0–––––2–2–2β€”2–––2–2–2–2––
D ––0––––––––––––––––4––4–4–4–4––2–––4–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––3–––2–0–––––––––0––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Finally, in this version notice how the asterisk’s location replaces one of the strums for an open A-string pluck. This is tricky to learn at first, because your muscle-memory will want you to strum the down-up-down-up in normal sequence. You’ll need to teach your hand to strum only twice at that part, and instead jump to the sub-sequence of the riff (open A string) one beat early:

E ––––2–2–2–2–––––––––––2–2–2–2––––––––––2–2–––––––––––––2–2–2β€”2–––2–2–2–2––
B ––––3–3–3–3–––––––––––3–3–3–3––––––––––3–3–––––––––––––3–3–3β€”3–––3–3–3–3––
G ––––2–2–2–2––4–2–0––––2–2–2–2––––0–––––2–2–––––––0–––––2–2–2β€”2–––2–2–2–2––
D ––0––––––––––––––––4––4–4–4–4––2–––4–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–––3–––2–0–––––––––0––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you. Let me know what other Beatles songs you want to see lessons for!

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