How to play house of the rising sun on guitar

If you are a beginner guitar player and want to learn that great song; “House of the Rising Sun”. This is the place to be. Where I will show you how to play house of the rising sun on guitar. This is for Guitarist who are beginners, intermediate and beyond.

How to Play House of the Rising Sun On Guitar? With this lesson How to Play House of the Rising Sun on Guitar you will learn:

  • How to play house of the Rising Sun for Beginners
  • Lyrics to house of the rising Sun
  • House of the Rising Sun Chords
  • Timing to House of the Rising Sun & Rhythm Pattern
  • Learn the famous Arpeggio from the song House of the Rising Sun
  • Bonus Video &
  • Chord Chart

If this lesson is something your ready to dive into. Then grab your guitar, and lets learn House of the Rising Sun.

Like I said this lesson is for beginners, intermediate and beyond. I will start with the basics. So if you want to strum the chords you can. Then I will go into the timing and rhythm pattern, also how to pick the individual strings. Which is for those who are a little more advanced in there playing.


House of the Rising Sun Chords

Let’s start out with the chords. These are easy open chords. In most songs you spend a lot of time concentrating on your fretting hand. This song is a little different it’s your strumming hand you will need to keep under control.

The chords in this song are: Am C  D F  E and Dm. If your not familiar with these chords here are the chord diagrams. If you need help understanding chord charts. Take a quick look at this article how to read chord charts.

Here is how to play the A minor chord.

  • First finger is on the B string, Second string, first fret.
  • Second finger is on the D string, fourth string, second fret.
  • Third finger is on the G string, third string, second fret.
  • Play the chord from the fourth strings down.
  • Be sure not to play the sixth string.

Next chord is the C Chord. Here is how to position your fingers to make the C chord.


  • Your first finger is on the B string at the first fret.
  • Then Second finger is on the D string, fourth string, second fret.
  • Last is your third finger on the A string, fifth string, at the third fret.
  • Play the C chord from the 5th string down.
  • Do not play the 6th string.

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Next in the Chord Progression

The next chord in the progression is the D chord. Take a look at the finger position of the D chord.

Open D
  • Place your first finger on the G string, third string, at the second fret.
  • Second finger is on the E string, first string, at the second fret.
  • Then your third finger is on the B string, second string, at the third fret.
  • Strum from the fourth string down. Which is the D string.
  • Do not play strings five of six.

F Major Chord

Then we have the F chord. See how to play the F Major chord in the chart below.

This is the simplest form of the F Major chord. If you want to learn more F chords, take a look at 5 ways to play the F chord.

  • Your first finger is on the B string, second string, at the first fret.
  • Second finger is on the G string, third string, second fret.
  • Third finger is on the D string, fourth string, at the third fret.
  • Do not play the fifth and sixth strings.

Another way to play this F chord is barring the high E string with that first finger. So now you are using your first finger to press down the first and second strings. Still at the first fret. The other fingers remain on there same strings.

Which is your second finger on the third string, at the second fret. Then your third finger on the fourth string, at the third fret.

Related Article: How to play Here Comes the Sun.


Final Chord to play in the song is the E Major chord. Which is the same as that A minor, but everything is moved up a string. Like this:

E Major Chord
  • This chord you can strum all the strings.
  • Your first finger is on the G string. At the first fret. The third string.
  • Second finger is on the A string. At the second fret. That’s the fifth string.
  • Your third finger is on the D string, fourth string. At the second fret.

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Okay now that we know what chords we are using. Lets take a look at the timing of the song. We need to get a good grasp of the timing in order to play the song.

The Outro

At the very end of the song is an instrumental the chord progression is: Am C D F Am E. Then it fades out with Am Dm Am Dm Am Dm. Take a look at the finger position for the Dm chord.

D minor Chord

As you can see to play the Dm You do not play the 6th or 5th strings.

  • First finger is on the first string, at the first fret.
  • Second finger is on the third strings, at the second fret.
  • Your third finger is on the second string, at the second fret.
  • Strum from the fourth string down.

Related Article: How to play Wipe Out by the Surfaris.

What Time Signature is the House of the Rising Sun in?

The time signature to the House of the Rising Sun is 6/8 timing. lets take a close up look at what this means. To understand how to play the song properly.

Most songs that you hear on the radio are in 4/4 time. Which means in a measure of “time” you have 4 beats.

Most songs are 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4.

In 6/8 time we have 6 beats to a measure. In the 4/4 timing the 1 is accented when you strum.

With 6/8 timing  you have sets of 3. So its 1 23 4 56, 1 23 4 56 The accent is on the 1 and the 4.  Or you could count it like this: 1 and a 2 and a, 1 and a 2 and a.

The easiest way to strum is all down strums. Make the accent strums on the 1 and the 4. In other words the 1 and 4 should be long strums. The rest of the strums should be short.

You might find this a little tricky at first until you get the hang of it. It’s good practice to count when your playing your guitar. If you need help with strumming take a look at How to Get Better at Strumming Guitar.

This is one of those 6/8 Time Signature Songs

The easiest way to play this song is to strum. You need to count to 6. So start out counting out loud. Remember to go slow. The 1 and 4 are long strums.

You want to all the strings, and make the strum well pronounced on the 1 and 4. Then for the strums of the 2 3 5 and 6, just strum 2 or 3 strings at a time; lightly.

Before you start changing chords. Just make the Am chord and sit and practice counting. While you strum. 1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5 6 .

After you get that under your belt. Try the chord progression which is: Am C D F AM E AM E, Then the verse starts. The chord progression is Am C D F, Am C E E, Am C D F Am E Am C D F Am E Am E. To make it easier see the Song Lyrics below. To get the Chord Chart Click this Link: Chord Chart.


House of the Rising Sun Lyrics

There is a house in New Orleans. They call the rising sun. And its been the ruins of many a poor boy. And God I know I’m one.

My mother was a taylor. She sewed my new blue jeans. My father was a gamblin man. Way down in New Orleans.

Now the only thing a gambler needs. Is a suitcase and a trunk. And the only time you keep him satisfied. Is when he’s all a drunk.

Oh mother tell your children. Not to do what I have done. Spend your life in sin and misery. In the house of the rising sun.

I got one foot on the platform. The other on a train. And I’m going back to New Orleans. To swing that ball and chain.

Yeah, there is a house in New Orleans. They call the rising sun. And its been the ruins of many a poor boy. And God I know I’m one. Source


Related Article: When Changing Guitar Strings do You Change One at a Time?

How to Arpeggio House of the Rising Sun

For the more advance guitarist there are two ways to pick the strings. One is with a “Rake” across the strings. The other is picking each individual strings.

I will show you both ways. Then you can decide which is best for you.

Lets start with picking the strings. Make the first chord which is the Am. Then what you want to do is pick strings 543 234. You probably know that the strings start 6 5 4 3 2 1. 6 is the thickest, and 1 is the thinnest.

You can see that we are still counting in a 6/8 timing. The next chord in the progression is the C chord. You want to play the same strings after your fretting hand is set to play the C. Pick strings 543 234.

After that position your hand to make the D chord shape. Then pick strings 432 123. Then fingers in position to play the F chord. Play the same strings, 432 123.

Once you’ve arpeggiated the F chord, next it’s back to the Am. Which we all ready covered which strings to pick.

The E chord is next in the chord progression. Which is played by picking strings 654 345. Then there is the Am and E again. I’m not going over every chord progression. If you want the chord progression click the link for the chord chart.

Related Article: Arpeggiated chord guitar lesson.


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House of the Rising Sun Arpeggio

This is how it sounds in the song. With what I call a “Rake”. Start with the Am chord. Basically what you want to do is Pick the 5th string, and rake your pick into the 4th and 3rd strings. Then pick string 1, 2, 3.

This song is at a fast tempo, and it will take a lot of practice to master this. Start out slow. With the first chord, and practice playing those strings. I would listen to the record. So that you can get the feel for the arpeggio.

If you listen it is almost a minute pause after the 5th string, then sweep into the 4th and 3rd strings, and then quickly pick the 1, 2, and the 3rd strings.

Note that you are picking down on strings 5, 4, 3 and then pick up on strings 1, 2, and 3.

The next chord is the C and, you pick and rake the same strings. After the C chord, you play the D. Pick the 4th string and rake the 3rd and 2nd strings, then in an upward motion pick strings 1, 2, and 3.

On the F chord you pick the strings the same way as when you are playing the D chord. Then it’s back to the Am. After the Am is the E chord.

What you want to do with the E chord is pick the 6th string, “rake”, strings 54, and pick up on string 1, 2, and 3.

Like I said this takes a lot of practice to get the feel of the song. Also it is a fast tempo. Which makes it a little tricky. Start slow, and practice one chord at a time.

Also it really helps to listen to how the Animals sing and play it.


House of the Rising Sun Fingerstyle

Another way to play this song is by throwing out the flat pick, and using your fingers.

Before you start this style of playing you will want to make sure you have the chords down.

Meaning it is hard enough to concentrate on your picking hand. You don’t want to be worrying about your fretting hand. Your fretting hand should be on autopilot.

To do this you will have to already know how to make all the chords in the song.

Then be able to transition between the chords flawlessly. If this is a problem, practice learning the chords, and how to move from one chord to the next. This may help with that: The Ultimate Guide How to Learn Guitar Chords.

Don’t forget! Then you will need to learn the chord progression. After you have all those obstacles out of the way, now you can concentrate on your picking hand.

The pattern you want to play is this; While looking down the strings. Pick strings 5, 4, 3. Once you get to the second string. You want to pick up. So now you pick strings 2, 3, 4.

There are a couple of ways to do this. The proper way of finger style picking is: Your thumb is in charge of strings 6, 5, and 4.

Then your other fingers rest above the strings that they are in charge of playing. Which your first finger is on the 3rd string.

Second finger plays the 2nd string, and your third finger plays the high E string. The first string.

So to play the Am Chord which is the first chord in the song. You will want to pick strings 5 and 4 with your thumb. Then use your second finger to pick the 3rd string. Your third finger will play the second string.

Next your second finger will play the 3rd string again. Lastly your thumb plays that D string. The 4th string.

The next chord is the C chord. You pick it the same way as you play the Am chord.


Finger Picking the D Chord for House of the Rising Sun

You will need to practice picking the Am and C before you move on. Next up is finger picking the D chord. Start by picking the 4th string with your thumb.

The strings that you will be playing are; 4, 3, 2, and 1, 2, 3. After playing the D string, the 4th string with your thumb. Pick the 3rd string with your index finger. Use your second finger to pick the 2nd string. Then your 3rd finger will pick the first string. Again pick the 2nd and third strings with your 2nd and first fingers.

One tip I would add to finger style playing. That is use your pinkie as a kick stand. For lack of a better term. Kind of like on a bike. The kick stand holds the bike up.

In the same way get your pinkie in a comfortable spot on the body of the guitar. So that your hand will be held up close to the strings.

When you are finger style picking your hand needs to be stationary. This will help with that. Then your fingers can do all the moving.

The next chord is the F chord. Fortunately you can use the same pattern as you did when you played the D chord.

Finger picking the E Major chord in this song is just as easy as the other chords. You want to pick strings 6, 5, 4, and 3, 4, 5. By now you may have figured out what fingers to use. But to make it perfectly clear on the 6, 5, and 4th strings use your thumb. Then your first finger on the 3rd string.

At the end of the song is the Dm Chord. Which can be finger picked the same way as the D chord.

The Timing is 6/8 or 1 2 3 4 5 6. It is at a fast tempo and may take some practice to get used to playing it.


Related Questions

House of the Rising Sun Animals

A little history on The Animals. They are a English band. Known for Rhythm and Blues and Rock. The band was formed in the 60’s. Some of there hits were songs such as Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood, We Got to Get Out of This Place, and there number one hit Single; House of the Rising Sun.Source

Click to listen to the Animals House of the Rising Sun.


Who Were the Original Animals?

  • Vocals Eric Burdon
  • Alan Price on keyboard
  • Hilton Valentine; Guitar
  • John Steel on Drums
  • Bryan Chandler; Bass