It is difficult to overstate the popularity of the Eagles song “Hotel California,” from the 1977 album of the same name. In the short time we prepared this song for you, we heard the song no fewer than a dozen times, whether as background music at the grocery store or bank or blaring from a passing car or a party on the neighbors’ back porch (replete with the “warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.”) Nearly 50 years after its release, it has sold four million downloads and inspired countless numbers of music fans to take up the guitar.
“Hotel California” is also one of the most requested song transcriptions from AG readers—a Readers’ Pick in many years of surveys. However, we have not been able to run it in the magazine due to its length, which would take up more pages than all of the songs in a typical issue. And so we are pleased to be presenting the hit—which in this arrangement takes up a whopping 14 pages—on the Acoustic Guitar Patreon page.
The original studio recording is built from many layers of guitars, and this arrangement encapsulates the most significant parts, starting with the 12-string acoustic riff first heard in the intro and then throughout the verses. This collection of ringing arpeggios is played in the key of E minor, with a seventh-fret capo causing it to sound in B minor. Note that throughout the song, the names of the chord frames reflect the fingerings respective to the capo, and that the chords sound a perfect fifth higher than written (i.e., Em sounds as Bm, B7 as F#7, Dsus2 as Asus2, etc.).
The rest of the arrangement is written in the concert (sounding) key of B minor. Aside from an acoustic part sans capo in bars 9–16, it includes transcriptions of the lead guitar lines and fills that Don Felder and Joe Walsh play. Most notably, these include some of the harmonized parts heard in the verses and choruses, and the memorable outro solo, which Felder recorded on his Gibson EDS-1275 double neck and Walsh on his Fender Telecaster, trading blazing lines before harmonizing together. While it isn’t necessarily easy—especially if you attempt to play it on the acoustic guitar—this section is well worth learning, as it’s regarded as among the finest rock guitar solos of all time.
The TAB and notation for “Hotel California” is available to members of the Acoustic Guitar Patreon page at the Supporters tier or higher. Join our community to access live workshops, song transcriptions, exclusive podcast episodes, and more!