Guitar lesson for

House of the Rising Sun

by The Animals  β€’  Lesson #96

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends – here’s my guitar lesson showing you how to play β€œHouse of the Rising Sun” by The Animals (though of course, this song existed well before them). In this tutorial I’ll show you the chords, the progressions needed, talk about strumming patterns, and show a few different tab options for playing the intro and verse sections. Whether you want a beginner-friendly version or something more advanced (e.g. with raked strumming), my videos here should help you out big time!

Here’s timestamps for the video above:

My original video for this song (lesson #96)

In addition to the video above, here’s the original entry I made for this song a few years back. This one holds up just fine, and remains a worthy companion to the updated video at the top of this page.

Lyrics w/ chords

    Am  C   D   F   Am   E   Am   E      x1

          Am      C        D            F       Am          C      E    E
    There is... a house in New Orleans... they call--- the Rising Sun
             Am          C       D               F      Am       E        Am  C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    And it's been... the ruin of many a poor boy... and God... I know I'm one

       Am         C      D      F       Am       C        E      E
    My mother.... was a tailor.... she sewed my new blue jeans
       Am        C     D         F        Am      E     Am    C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    My father... was a gambling man..... down in New Orleans

            Am     C      D           F         Am      C     E      E
    Now the only thing a gambler needs... is a suitcase and trunk
            Am    C        D            F      Am       E      Am   C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    And the only time he's... satisfied... is when he's on, a drunk

    [ instrumental verse x1 ]

        Am  C   D   F   Am   C   E   E
        Am  C   D   F   Am   E
        Am  C   D   F   Am   E   Am  E

        Am     C                 D      F           Am      C       E    E
    Oh mother... tell your children......... not to do what I have done
    Am         C         D            F          Am           E      Am   C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    Spend your lives in sin and misery... in the House of the Rising Sun

                Am       C        D       F     Am         C         E    E
    Well, I got one foot on the platform... the other foot on the train
        Am     C       D           F     Am        E        Am   C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    I'm going back to New Orleans... to wear that ball and chain

                Am     C       D          F       Am       C       E     E
    Well, there is a house in New Orleans... they call the Rising Sun
             Am        C       D             F       Am     E       Am   C  D  F  Am  E  Am  E
    And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy... and God I know I'm one

Chords needed

E –––0––––0––––2––––1—–—–0––––      ––––0—–—–
B –––1––––1––––3––––1—–—–0––––      ––––1—–—–  If the F gives you a hard
G –––2––––0––––2––––2—–—–1––––      ––––2—–—–  time, use this 3-finger
D –––2––––2––––0––––3—–—–2––––      ––––3—–—–  version (leave high-E open).
A –––0––––3–––––––——–––––2––––      ––——–––––
E ––––––––––––––—–—––––––0––––      —–—––––––
     Am   C    D    F    E              F    

Chord progressions

The entire song uses the following progressions. Each chord written below is to be played for one full measure. Each measure has 6 counts.

INTRO     Am   C   D   F   Am   E   Am  E

VERSE     "There is a house in New Orleans..."
          Am   C   D   F

          "They call the rising sun..."
          Am   C   E   E

          "It's been the ruin of many a poor boy..."
          Am   C   D   F

          "And God, I know I'm one"
          Am   E   Am   C   D   F   Am   E   Am   E

Strumming pattern

At its simplest, you want to accent the β€œ1” and β€œ4” beats within a 6 beat measure. Use downstrums for these:

1   2   3   4   5   6
D           D         

From there, you could fill things in a bit by adding additional downstrums on all other beats. Just be sure to maintain your accents on β€œ1” and β€œ4”:

1   2   3   4   5   6
D   d   d   D   d   d
>           >

Taking it even further, you can add in some upstrums as shown here:

1   2   3   4   5   6
D   d u d u D   d u d u
>           >

Intro riff, simplified

If you want to roughly mimic the guitar sound of The Animals, you’ll want to pluck individual strings. The easiest way to do this is as follows. The general idea here is to (1) start by playing the bottom note from the given chord, then (2) play the thinnest three strings in the arpeggiated manner shown below. i.e., 3rd string, 2nd string, 1st string, 2nd string, 3rd string. This works well whether you use a pick or play fingerstyle.

E –––––––0–––––  –––––––0–––––  –––––––2–––––  –––––––1–––––  –––––––0–––––  <= right ring
B –––––1–––1–––  –––––1–––1–––  –––––3–––3–––  –––––1–––1–––  –––––0–––0–––  <= right middle
G –––2–––––––2–  –––0–––––––0–  –––2–––––––2–  –––2–––––––2–  –––1–––––––1–  <= right index
D –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –0–––––––––––  –3–––––––––––  –––––––––––––  <= right thumb
A –0–––––––––––  –3–––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  <= right thumb
E –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –––––––––––––  –0–––––––––––  <= right thumb
   Am             C              D              F              E           

In this manner, the intro would be played like this:

E |–––––––0–––––|–––––––0–––––|–––––––2–––––|–––––––1–––––|–
B |–––––1–––1–––|–––––1–––1–––|–––––3–––3–––|–––––1–––1–––|–
G |–––2–––––––2–|–––0–––––––0–|–––2–––––––2–|–––2–––––––2–|–
D |–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–0–––––––––––|–3–––––––––––|–
A |–0–––––––––––|–3–––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–
E |–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–
    Am            C             D             F             

    Am            E             Am            E            

Intro riff, with raked arpeggio

If you want to truly mimic the sound of The Animals version, you’ll need to use a β€œraked” downstrum for the 2 and 3 counts. By raked, I mean a single downstrum played in a single smooth motion, playing multiple strings. This is actually tough to do in a way that sounds consistent across all chords. One challenge is the fact that some strings use 4 strings, others use 5 strings, and others use 6 strings. A key to the rake motion is to not play the highest E string as part of the A-minor, C-major, and E-major chords. For the F-major and D-major it’s okay to play the high-E string as part of the rake, since you only have 4 strings in total to work with.

v = downstrum
^ = upstrum
~ = raked downstrum (single motion, multiple strings)

E –––––––––0––––––  –––––––––0––––––  ––––––––2––––––  ––––––––1––––––  ––––––––0––––––  
B –––––––1–––1––––  –––––––1–––1––––  ––––––3–––3––––  ––––––1–––1––––  ––––––0–––0––––  
G ––––––2––––––2––  ––––––0––––––0––  –––––2––––––2––  –––––2––––––2––  –––––1––––––1––  
D –––––2––––––––––  –––––2––––––––––  ––0–0––––––––––  ––3–3––––––––––  ––––2––––––––––  
A ––0–0–––––––––––  ––3–3–––––––––––  –––––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––  –––2–––––––––––  
E ––––––––––––––––  ––––––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––  –––––––––––––––  ––0––––––––––––
    v ~~~~ ^ ^ ^      v ~~~~ ^ ^ ^      v ~~~ ^ ^ ^      v ~~~ ^ ^ ^      v ~~~ ^ ^ ^    
    Am                C                 D                F                E                 

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

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