Guitar lesson for

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

by Otis Redding  •  Lesson #440

Hello, friends! Here’s a guitar lesson for Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, the Otis Redding classic from 1968. This one is a ton of fun to play on the guitar, even though you may not think of guitar when you listen to it. I’ll teach you to play it using only 7 chords (using only open chords, all of which major). I’ll show you a few ways to strum it, including both beginner-friendly and more advanced strums.

For those of you who are looking for a bit of a challenge, I’ll also teach you the subtle walk-up and walk-down heard during the verse of Redding’s album version — in addition to explaining the rhythm behind the pushed chord changes that give the song’s rhythm a bit of distinction. These may take a bit of practice to get comfortable with, but they sound great when used together. Let’s jump in!

Video lesson timestamps:

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Join the Discussion on My Patreon Page

Members of the Song Notes community are discussing this lesson over on the Patreon post I made for it — if you’re a member, join the discussion here! You can also find handy links to the various Patreon posts I mention in the lesson, each of which has the instructional PDF available for download. Curious about Song Notes membership on Patreon? Learn more »

Backing Track Available

I made a simple drum backing track for you to use while playing this song. It’s available for you to download over on my Patreon post for this song (look for the attachment at the very bottom of the post). I made two separate backing tracks:

  1. One is at 104 beats per minute, which is the tempo heard in Otis Redding’s album recording of this song. If you want to play at the exact same speed as him, use this one. This is what’s heard in my play-along cover at the end of my video lesson.

  2. The other is slightly slower, paced at 96 beats per minute. If you find Redding’s version moves too fast for you, I recommend this track as it’ll give you a bit more time to make the chord changes (etc). Once you’re comfortable with with this tempo, I’d encourage you to try using the 104bpm track.

Listen to Otis Redding’s Recording

Played at 104 beats per minute. Key of G, standard tuning.

Additional Lessons To Help With This Song

Here’s instructional lessons I’ve made teaching concepts that are useful in this song.

🎸 Walk-ups, Walk-downs, and the fretboard

Lesson #354. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 Using flat-thirds and flat-sevenths to add GRIT to your walk-ups and walk-downs

Lesson #361. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 Bass Note Strumming (Essential Technique)

Lesson #371. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 Playing G major chord with only 2 fingers

Lesson #83. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 F Chord, Made Easy: 7 Alternatives to the Barred Version

Lesson #392. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

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