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"House of the Rising Sun" Chords and Guitar Tab

As an experienced guitar teacher, making songs easier for young beginners is very important to me.


"House of the Rising Sun" Chords

Do you know the "House of the Rising Sun" chords? How do you play the song on guitar? It is actually not that difficult. Sending my mind back in time today to when I learned the guitar chords for "House of the Rising Sun." It is sometime in the late 1960s (a lady never tells her age), and I am a geeky 12-year-old schoolgirl en route to Germany with a group of kids for my first-ever holiday alone!

Well, specifically, I am with the Grimsby and District schools' swimming team bound for a gala and exchange trip to Bremerhaven. Very excited I was, and we kids were exploring the boat! I have my little guitar of course (then it traveled everywhere, these days I usually borrow someone else's). We are on a North Sea ferry, and some older lads from I know not where are playing songs. They are professional buskers doing the Grand Tour!

My new friends ask if I can really play guitar, and I give them some Carcassi, Spanish music, Tarrega, a little improvised flamenco. They are impressed, but do I play rock? The answer then is "No, my teacher only shows us classical." So, one of the guys hands me a plectrum, says, "Follow me! Should be easy for you!" and we are off learning the chords of "House of the Rising Sun." It is easy, it is exhilarating to be part of a real band, and these buskers put me on a route I still follow—playing cool rock and blues songs.

"House of the Rising Sun" Is a Busking Classic!

Little did I then know how much of a classic "House of Rising Sun" was! Eric Burdon and the Animals had made it part of our culture. In the tradition of 1960s rock icons like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Beatles, they had been heavily influenced by blues and took this traditional blues on to become an all-time rock classic of the 1960s. Meantime, the 12-year-old girl that was me hit the strings for the first time in a powerful rhythm and quickly learned the fingerpicking accompaniment too.

"House of the Rising Sun" Tab

"House of the Rising Sun" Tab

"House of the Rising Sun" Chords

The chord progression you need is as follows. If you don't know any of the chords, just click on them to be taken to my Flickr page and see them. Incidentally, if the F is too hard (a barre chord), you could get away with the F major 7 in the intro photo!

Am / / / / / C / / / / / / D / / / / / F / / / / /

Am / / / / / C / / / / / E / / / / / E7 / / / / /

Am / / / / / C / / / / / / D / / / / / F / / / / /

Am / / / / / E / / / / / Am / / / / / E7 / / / / /

Here are some more songs you can learn the chords for:

  • 20th Century Boy
  • Band In A Jam Project
  • Best Songs To Learn On Guitar
  • Best Way To Use A Guitar Pick
  • Born To Be Wild
  • Hallelujah
  • Harley Davidson Guitar Stuff
  • Hey Joe
  • Highway to Hell
  • Johnny B Goode
  • Improvise on guitar - first lesson
  • One
  • Perfect Day
  • Play Guitar REALLY Fast
  • Satisfaction
  • Smoke On The Water
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Summer of '69
"House of the Rising Sun" Chords

"House of the Rising Sun" Chords

"House of the Rising Sun" Tab

Below is a simple drum and guitar version with notes and tab for "House of the Rising Sun." Use this with the chords in the picture to do your own cover version of the song.

"House of the Rising Sun" Tab

"House of the Rising Sun" Tab

Picking "House of the Rising Sun"

There are two basic ways to pick "House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals, the first involves fingerpicking, which is the way I first learned it, and the second way is to flat pick. I will explain both.

To fingerpick, let your thumb take charge of strings 6, 5, and 4, the bass strings. Where there are two quick notes, the thumb (p) rolls through both. Your index finger (i) should pluck string 3, your middle finger (m) pluck string 2, and your ring finger (a) pluck string 1. This is an easy way to play once you become proficient with fingerpicking. The pattern is either:

  • p i m a m i
  • p p i m a m i

To flat pick, you should follow the direction of string travel. This is called economy picking. Try to make the strokes almost continuous and don't turn the pick.

So the strokes go either:

  • down down down up up up
  • down down down down up up up

Do you have a favorite version of "House of the Rising Sun," or do you only know about the version by the Animals?

Thank you for playing along!

© 2011 Lisa Marie Gabriel

Can you play the House of the Rising Sun? - Where were you in the 1960s?

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on April 22, 2013:

I think every man that I ever dated (with the exception of one) said that House of the Rising Sun was their favorite song (my current husband included). The song really strikes a chord in some people.

RosaMorelli on February 20, 2013:

Looking forward to learning this one - I'm a (not terribly good) bass player more than a guitarist, but this is a song I've always thought would be nice to learn properly. Love the tale about how you learned this, I'm in the North of England too, but on t'other side - the North West.

HowAboutThis on December 27, 2012:

I always liked this song. Thanks

E L Seaton from Virginia on October 14, 2012:

Another great tune to lens about! Love the selection. Sadly another classic tune I cannot play.

Edutopia on January 30, 2012:

Everyone should learn this song as soon as they can. A great way to develop your talents or a nice easy song to rock out on.

Edutopia on January 30, 2012:

This is a great song to cut your skills on. Good for beginners to practice on and for advance players to add to their repertoire.

puerdycat lm on May 15, 2011:

Just the way we played it when we were kid! This is great, have to get a new set of strings!

lizziehumphreys1 on May 14, 2011:

I love this song and my dad plays it on his guitar :) great lens

Vikk Simmons from Houston on May 13, 2011:

Well done. Brings back memories here, too. I learned to play House of the Rising Son on the piano and it was always my fall-back position. :) Love the song.

indiemusicheaven on May 11, 2011:

Great Composition. Hope we will receive such kind of composition in near future also.

All the Best

Mabelmew on May 09, 2011:

Great song and what a fun way to introduce how to play it! :-) the chord chart was very clever!

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on May 09, 2011:

I took an adult evening guitar class at my local high school years ago in 'Beginning Guitar', One of the songs we learned in class was 'House of the Rising Sun', and I loved playing the chords. But the only version I was familiar with all these years was Bob Dylan's, because that's the recording the guitar teacher played! :-). It's a great song! I'm a big fan of all 1960s folk music, especially those songs played on the guitar, and this one fits right in.

Richard from Surrey, United Kingdom on May 08, 2011:

I don't play an instrument but The House of the Rising Sun is definitely a favourite :)

littlelotus on May 08, 2011:

I can't, not really musical :) good lens but :)

Kathy McGraw from California on May 08, 2011:

This was the very first song I wanted to learn to play, and did. Always a classic. Loved your story of how you learned to play this :)

JeremiahStanghini on May 08, 2011:

A great song. :-)

Pat Moire from West Village, New York City on May 08, 2011:

Just saw some guitar chord playing cards on Amazon that are very cool.

anonymous on May 08, 2011:

Well looks quite tough for me, but maybe it is easy to play to the guitarists.

Lisa Auch from Scotland on May 08, 2011:

Fantastic, my daughter will be getting a guitar for her birthday so I know where i will be sending her for music!

CHalloran LM on May 08, 2011:

Love this song. My husband's cover band had done a hard rock version of it, it was really good and the crowd always loved it too. I watched Haley sing it last week on American Idol, which wasn't bad at all. There is a youtube video of it.

anonymous on May 08, 2011:

Love music; can listen to music, sadly can't read music. :| Cheers to the house of the rising sun.