Guitar lesson for
by Lynyrd Skynyrd • Lesson #56
Get the sheet music(3 pages)
- A properly licensed, print-friendly arrangement is available for individual purchase at Musicnotes.com
- This sheet music was designed & hand-crafted by me (David Potsiadlo) with care, providing you with everything needed to both learn and play this song.
- On the fence? Here's a video guide I made showing the purchase & print process.
Patreon supporters: click here to get the 50% off discount code on this purchase
In this lesson, I show you how to play the song “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd on an acoustic guitar. I’ll show you how to play the chords needed, the strumming patterns, the distinctive riffs (easy and intermediate versions), and also the picking pattern heard in the intro of the song. Tabs and chord charts are included. Note, I’ll be playing in standard tuning (note, you must tune down one-half step to play along with the Lynyrd Skynyrd version).
- 0:00 Lesson overview
- 2:01 Chords
- 4:28 Riff, simple
- 6:45 Riff, intermediate
- 8:48 Picking pattern
- 13:17 Misc other notes
Chords you’ll need
Three chords for the entire song!
E –––0––––3––––0––– B –––1––––0––––1––– G –––0––––0––––2––– D –––2––––0––––2––– A –––3––––2––––0––– E ––––––––3–––––––– C G Am
Same chord progression for the entire song! One measure of C, one measure of G, two measures of A-minor. Repeat that, literally, for the entire song. Whether you (or your pals) are strumming, picking, soloing, or playing the jazz flute – these are the chords you’ll want to be living in.
C . . . G . . . Am . . . Am . . .
If you’re super new to guitar, start with downstrums on the “1” and “3” counts only:
> > > > ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Then, taken a tad further with difficulty, I recommend this:
> > > > ↓ ↓ ↓ ↑ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↑ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
By “riff” I’m referring to the distinctive fill you hear played by the lead guitar / bass / whatever. This is probably played in many ways, by many instruments, over the course of the song… and I’m not interested in providing an exact recreation of what each instrument does. Rather, I’d prefer to give you the building blocks to (1) learn the simplest possible version of this riff, (2) learn a slightly more intermediate version of the riff, so you can (3) take the song wherever you want to go with your future practicing. In summary, think of my notes here as a launchpad – and not as a complete canonical archive of complete truth. The former is going to be far more helpful to most people.
A final note: pay attention to the counting. Notice how you’re “counting into” each new measure (of four beats) by playing the walk-up notes on the “four and” at the end of each measure. See my video lesson for a pretty thorough walkthrough of this counting stuff.
Start with this one, especially if you’re newer to guitar. All riff notes occur on the lowest two strings, which is nice.
See my sheet music for the tab
Taken to the next level, here’s a slightly more difficult version to play (that sounds more complete). The walk-in notes are a bit more complicated (you sometime use the D string, you sometimes start walking in on the half-beat before the “4 and”, etc). There’s also an opportunity to strum or pick the full chord used in each measure – which I show in parantheses here. Again, listen to my video lesson to see this in action.
See my sheet music for the tab
Alright! Finally, the picking pattern. This is what you hear in the intro to the song, and throughout the verse. This is challenging to learn in its own right (memorizing the pattern for each measure; getting your picking up/down direction polished; not accidentally hitting the other strings; etc). If this is your thing, learn it! If you’re not sure this is your thing, learn it anyway! If nothing else, it is a good practice exercise. Just the same, you could strum the song 100% and never bother with this.
See my sheet music for the tab
Lyrics with chords
See my sheet music for the full lyrics, with chords included
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.
Get my lessons in your inbox!
Every couple weeks I send out an email newsletter with links to whatever new lessons I've made. Sign up here and stay in the loop!
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 My "song" PDFs are now individually purcasheable! I've arranged a licensing agreement with Musicnotes, a service that lets you buy my sheet music arrangements. Patreon supporters get 50% off each purchase. Learn more here »
June 22, 2022
A beginner's guide to using GarageBand's Beat Sequencer tool to create custom drum beats! Even if you're a total novice when it comes to drumming (like me), I'll walk you through the basic steps to create rich-sounding drum tracks to play over while practicing or performing.
May 27, 2022
A few years after learning American Girl the way Tom Petty plays it, I returned to it — this time determined to work out a low-key, easy-going fingerstyle arrangement. Here's how it went!
May 22, 2022
As part of my Learning Lead Guitar series, I share a realization I recently had showing different ways to fill out melody lines using triads, double-stops, and harmonized sixths.
May 19, 2022
I answer an audience question about how to go about learning a song (with a tricky riff) for a peformance at a family wedding.
May 12, 2022
After many requests from y'all, I finally created this list of all my beginner-friendly song lessons! These are grouped by key, allowing you to take the chord shapes you already know and find other songs using those same shapes.
May 4, 2022
Two easier ways to play B-minor, using open chord voicings — super helpful to have these in your toolkit. Includes different practice riffs to accompany each chord voicing.
Browse my all lessons
By lesson type
- Full Song Lessons
- Beginner Songs
- Backing Tracks
- Play-Along Covers
- Warm-Up Exercises
- Tips & Techniques
By song decade
By musical genre
By guitar technique
By musical key
By popular artist
- Johnny Cash
- Tyler Childers
- Tom Petty
- Neil Young
- Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Willie Nelson
- John Denver
- Guns N' Roses