While the acoustic guitar is less commonly associated with rock than the electric, the acoustic has always had a strong presence in this genre—whether as a songwriting tool or the bedrock of a recording. These lessons cover a range of styles — from oldies and classic rock to punk, funk, and the pop of today.
Learn to Play “Handle With Care,” the Traveling Wilburys’ Impromptu Hit
George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan had so much fun recording this song that they ended up making a band together.
Sunny War’s “No Reason” Is Built from a Cool and Distinctive Riff
It has a non-Western vibe, but at the same time connects to the Travis picking tradition
How to Play “Willin’” — Little Feat’s Trucking Anthem in Open-G Tuning
This guitar lesson is based on Little Feat’s original recording of "Willin'," a duet with George on vocals and acoustic guitar and Ry Cooder on bottleneck electric guitar.
Learn to Play Madison Cunningham’s “Life According to Raechel”
Learn to play the hushed, sparse, gorgeously melodic song that Madison Cunningham wrote in honor of her grandmother.
Using Slash Chords to Strengthen Your Bass Lines and Chord Progressions
Slash chords are a small change to a chord voicing that can have a big impact on the sound of a progression, as we’ll explore in this guitar lesson.
Learn the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” on Guitar
This classic song captures the ethos of the early hippie era and is played in the key of A minor, with a capo at the fourth fret causing the music to sound in C# minor.
“What’s Going On”—Learn an Unplugged Version of Marvin Gaye’s R&B Masterpiece
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” has nary an acoustic guitar in its swirling arrangement, but the song, in the guitar-friendly key of E major, lends itself nicely to an acoustic treatment.
How to Play Neil Young’s Luminous Love Song “Harvest Moon“
With its graceful melody and romantic glow, the song is an acoustic repertoire staple—sung at countless weddings and song circles.
How to Play James Taylor’s Timeless Cowboy Lullaby “Sweet Baby James”
Here are some tips on how to play "Sweet Baby James,” the 1970 title track of James Taylor’s second album. Taylor himself has called it his best song.
10 Acoustic Rock Songs You Should Know
With so many classic acoustic rock songs out there, it's hard to know where to start. Here are 10 acoustic rock songs you should know.
Video Lesson: 5 Ways to Build Your Rock Rhythm Guitar Rudiments
Developing your sense of time and rhythmic vocabulary won’t just make you a better rhythm player, it will make you a better lead player, and a better musician overall.
Learn to Play Larkin Poe’s “She’s a Self Made Man” on Guitar
The title track of Larkin Poe’s 2020 album Self Made Man is a blues rock banger, with crunchy electric guitar by Rebecca Lovell & scorching slide by Megan Lovell.
Video Lesson: Exploring Rock Legend Eddie Van Halen’s Acoustic Guitar Side
Eddie Van Halen also applied his virtuosity to the acoustic guitar. In this lesson we’ll look at acoustic selections spanning the Van Halen catalog.
How Paul McCartney’s Fingerpick-and-Strum Guitar Technique Gave The Beatles’ “Blackbird” Its Distinctive Sound
McCartney’s unusual fingerpick-and-strum technique gives “Blackbird” its distinctive sound.
Add Fingerpicking Fills to Melody Lines
The goal of good fingerpicking accompaniment is to support the song you’re playing the best you can. Short fills between vocal lines, like the one in Example 9, can be a nice contrast to straight pattern picking.
Acoustic Classic: Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’
Cockburn originally recorded the song in a rock-band setting, flush with electric guitars and synths, but when he stopped by our studio, he stripped the song down to just guitar and voice.
Hot Guitar Tab: Joe Robinson’s “Let the Guitar Do the Talkin'”
It’s one thing to play blazingly fast Travis picking, and quite another to sing at the same time, as Joe Robinson does.
Video Lesson: Sus Chord Embellishments
Some of your favorite classic songs from artists like James Taylor and Bob Dylan rely heavily on suspended chords for embellishment.
Solo Guitar Arrangement: the Beatles’ ‘If I Needed Someone’
George Harrison's electric riffs work just as nicely on the acoustic and though this may be a challenging arrangement, it's worth practicing to achieve a properly rocking groove.
‘Landslide’: A Fleetwood Mac Classic, Distilled to Its Essence
“Landslide,” with its gently rolling arpeggios and moderate clip, has earned its status as one of the great ballads in the rock canon.
Woodshed: Learn a Jazz-Meets-Punk Version of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’
This arrangement is in the guitar-friendly key of E minor and includes a steady eighth-note bass line that nods to the Clash version.
Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” Offers a Good Lesson in Harmonic Imagination
Paul Simon is among the most harmonically sophisticated of folk-pop songwriters, and this song is packed with lush chord voicings.
Learn George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’
The song is arranged here as a strum-along, and hold ups nicely in this setting, despite the lushness of the original studio recording.
How to Learn Eric Clapton’s Unplugged Classic ‘Layla’
Our arrangement is streamlined for a single guitar and captures Clapton's solos note for note.
“Can’t Find My Way Home” – Steve Winwood’s Acoustic Version of this Classic Rock Gem
The English supergroup Blind Faith might have been together for less than a year, but it produced one of the most enduring songs in the entire rock canon.