Guitar lesson for

Sweet Home Alabama

by Lynyrd Skynyrd  •  Lesson #43

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

This guitar lesson is for a solo acoustic version of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. For this classic song, I’ll show you how to play all of the recognizable riffs and fills you hear during the song: including during the intro, verses, and choruses. I’ll also show you how to play the chords used during the entire song, including strumming patterns (both simple and complex). My aim with this lesson is to give you the core building blocks you’ll need to take this song to advanced places, should you wish. I won’t cover the solo or 100% note-for-note tab recreations of what each guitar plays during the song, as that’s a huge effort and others have done that in many cases.

Lyrics with chords

INTRO
    D ... Cadd9 ... G ... G ... (x4, with riff)

VERSE
    D      Cadd9           G
    ...Big wheels, keep on turning
    D           Cadd9          G
    ...Carry me home to see my kin
    D           Cadd9            G
    ...Singing songs about the Southland
    D              Cadd9      G
    ...I miss ole 'Bamy once again, and I think it's a sin, yeah

INTERLUDE
        D ... C ... G ... G ...  (x2, with interlude riff)

    D                    Cadd9       G          
    ...Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her
    D                    Cadd9        G
    ...Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
    D                    Cadd9        G
    ...Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
    D             Cadd9               G
    ...A southern man don't need him around, anyhow

CHORUS
            D      Cadd9   G
            Sweet home, Alabama
            D         Cadd9        G
            Where the skies are so blue
            D     Cadd9    G
            Sweet home, Alabama
            D         Cadd9          G
            Lord, I'm coming home to you

        (interlude)

                                          F    C    D
    In Birmingham they love the governor (boo, hoo, hoo!)
    Now, we all did what we could do
    Now, Watergate does not bother me
    Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth

            [chorus]

        Here I come... Alabama...

        (solo + interlude)

    Now, Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
    And they've been known to pick a song or two
    Lord, they get me off so much
    They pick me up when I'm feeling blue, now how about you?

            [chorus x2, solo to end]

Chords needed

For 99% of the song, you’ll only need to know these 3 chords. If you’ve never seen the Cadd9 chord before, don’t be scared! It’s actually easier to play than the typical C-major chord, since you’ll be keeping your left-ring and left-pinky fingers in the same place as they are in the G chord.

E –––2–––––3–––––3––––
B –––3–––––3–––––3––––
G –––2–––––0–––––0––––
D –––0–––––2–––––0––––
A –––––––––3–––––2––––
E –––––––––––––––3––––
     D   Cadd9   G    

There’s one place in the song (the “boo-hoo” lyric) where an F chord is needed. You can play a full 6 string F if you please, but know you can also get away with a 4-string F that only uses the middle four strings.

E –––(1)–––
B ––––1––––
G ––––2––––
D ––––3––––
A ––––3––––
E –––(1)–––
      F

Chord progression for the entire song

For the entire song, you’ll want to use this progression from D to Cadd9 to G. Repeat it over and over:

"Sweet wheels keep on turning..."

D . . . Cadd9 . . . G . . . G . . .

In one or two cases, you’ll change this for one progression by throwing an F into the mix. You can use as simplified an F as you prefer:

"In Birmingham they love the Governor, boo hoo..."

D . . . Cadd9 . . . G . . . F . C .

How to play the main riff

There are many ways you can play this – each has slight variations in the final measure. I’m not super interested in mapping each of these out to their exact location in the song… for that, I leave it to you to listen to the album version, watch my video, and combine these as you prefer. Also, note that some of these riffs may not be 100% accurate to what you hear in the album version – I’m less concerned with an exact reproduction, and more concerned with giving you the structure that’ll get you started with things.

Variation A:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––3––|––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––0––|––––––––––––––––––––––
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––0––|––––––0h2––0––––––––––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|–––––––2––|––0h2–––––––––2––0h2––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––3–3–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G

Variation B:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––3––|––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––0––|––2–0–0–––4–0–0–––5~~–
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––0––|––––––––––––––––––––––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|–––––––2––|––––––––––––––––––––––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––3–3–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G

Variation C:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––3––|––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––0––|––––––––––––––––––––––
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––0––|––––––0h2––0––––––––––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|–––––––2––|––0h2–––––––––––3–––––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––3–3–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G

Variation D:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|––––––0–––––0–––––0–––––0–––––0––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|––0h2–––0h2–––0h2–––0h2–––0h2––––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G

Variation E:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––3––|–––1––––-–––1–––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––0––|–––2––––-–––0–––––––––
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––0––|–––3––––-–––2–––––––––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|–––––––2––|–––3––––-–––3–––––––––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––3–3–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G           F        C

Variation F:

e –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––––––––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3––––|––––––3––––|–––––––3––|––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––––2––|––––––––0––|–––––––0––|–––––––––––––––––2p0––
D ––0–0––––––|–––––––––––|–––––––0––|––––––0h2––0––––––––––
A –––––––––––|––3–3––––––|–––––––2––|––0h2–––––––––3–––––––
E –––––––––––|–––––––––––|––3–3–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––
    D           Cadd9       G           

Interlude riff

This is what you hear between each verse. Again, there are a few ways you can play it. Use the method(s) that work for your needs.

Variation A:

e –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––0–––––––––
G ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|––––––––0–0––––|––––––2––0––
D ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
A ––7h8h9–––––9––|––5h7–––––––|––0h1h2––––––––|––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|––––––––––––3––|––––––––––––
    D               C            G Variation B:

e –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––0–1–0––3––
G ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|––––––––0–0––––|––––––––––––
D ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
A ––7h8h9–––––9––|––5h7–––––––|––0h1h2––––––––|––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|––––––––––––3––|––––––––––––
    D               C            G

Variation C:

e –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––|––––––––––––
G ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|–––––––––––––––|––4–––4–––––
D ––––––––7–7––––|–––––––5–5––|––––––––5–5––––|––5–––5–––––
A ––7h8h9–––––9––|––5h7–––––––|–––––––––––––––|––5–––5–––––
E –––––––––––––––|––––––––––––|––5h6h7–––––3––|––3–––3–––––
    D               C            G

Strumming Patterns

Here’s a few ways to strum it, in order of complexity (starting at the easiest version). The “” symbol in the patterns below designates playing the bass note of that chord, for that strum. See my video for reference for all these.

D   .   C   .   G   .   .   .
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d   d   d   d   d   d   d   d

D   .   C   .   G   .   .   .
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d   d   d u d   d   d   d u d

D   .   C   .   G   .   .   .
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d d d   d d d   d d d   d d d
¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >

D   .   C   .   G   .   .   .
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d d d dud d d dud d d dud d d du
¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >   ¯ ¯ >

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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