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10 Famous Rock and Roll Tabs For Guitar


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Classic Rock and Roll Riffs, Chords and Tabs...

Here's a collection of 10 rock and roll tabs that make for great music on the guitar.  Remember that this is not necessarily of "Best of" kind of list, it's simply a selection of (popular) rock and roll songs, on the web and elsewhere, that are great to play.  To that end, for many of the songs below, both chords and tabs (where applicable, say for a solo/riff) have been included.

In order to benefit from the content of this page you need to know How to Read Guitar Tabs & play many of the basic chords on guitar.


Sidenote: "Rock and Roll" or Classic Rock?

There is technically a difference between "Rock and Roll" and later Rock music (often called "Classic Rock"), though many people today use the terms nearly interchangeably.  To keep things simple, the music on this page are distinctly from the rock and roll era that evolved from Blues and Boogie-Woogie in the late 1940's and early 1950's (except for the Led Zeppelin number, which came later).

Classic Rock on the other hand as a more encompassing international style (think of bands like Guns 'n Roses, Aerosmith, Boston, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd) really came in full swing in the 1960's.  If you're looking for classic rock songs then there's a tab section dedicated to it which you can have a look at: Classic Rock Guitar Tabs.
Learn to Play 10 Famous Rock and Roll Tabs from famous artists like Elvis Presley, Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Byrds and a few more...
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Rock and Roll Tabs #1:
Mr Tambourine Man (The Byrds)

Originally written by Bob Dylan, the 1965 cover version by "The Byrds", made this song famous as it went to number 1 on the Billboard charts in the States.  The Byrd's version of this song, with its jangly guitars and meaningful lyrics was pivotal in establishing a sub-genre of rock, later called folk-rock.  It became one of the band's most enduring hits - and to think they almost didn't record it because they were initially unimpressed with the song!
Notes on the Song

The Intro Riff of the song consists of a simple two string melody played rather fast and repeated twice before the opening chords start.

The rest of the song is here in the key of D (see chord progressions).  For newer players: You can learn the chords for the D chord progression from this beginner guitar chords article.
Rock and Roll Tabs  #2:
Hound Dog (Elvis)

Originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton, "Hound Dog" was made immensely popular by Elvis Presley's 1956 cover which has been ranked high in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest songs of All Time.  Presley's version is today still known as an archetype for the rock and roll revolution.  The original meaning of "Hound Dog" in the lyrics, refer to a worthless man that preys on women to take care of him - sounds like a country theme for a rock song!

Notes on the Song

Elvis' version of the song is played in high tempo and here in the key of C.  For newer players, if any of the chords are unfamiliar you can grab a free guitar chord chart to learn them.

The guitar solo included here is quite complicated as it's played rather fast and includes a few different guitar techniques such as bending and sliding.  For learning the solo, I recommend you keep the original recording close by to help you with the song's upbeat rhythm
Rock and Roll Tabs #3:
I Get Around (Beach Boys)

The Beach Boys' first number one charting hit in the United States, "I get around" was released in 1964 and became a regular in the band's live set-list.  Unlike "Mr. Tambourine Man" (above) this song shouldn't be scoured for deep lyrical meaning - it simply recounts fun teenage living involving friends, girls and cars.  Apparently, it's also Alice Cooper's favourite song of all time!
Notes on the Song

If any of the chords for this song are unfamiliar you can grab a copy of these free guitar chord charts to help you master them.  Notice that the chords for the verses are 5th chords.  This means that you can play power chords instead of regular or open bar chords.

The guitar interlude played between the verses has a fairly simple picking pattern played on the upper strings of the guitar.  You might need to listen to the original recording to get the timing and rhythm right.
Notes on the Song

The Beatles are today not known for their technically challenging music, but rather for their catchy melodies.  This song is no exception as the tab uses simple open chords (except for Bm which is best played as a barre chord).  The guitar solo is also fairly straightforward using only the top three strings of the guitar with a few fast hammer-ons.
Rock and Roll Tabs  #4:
A Hard Days Night (The Beatles)

Written by John Lennon and released as part of the same-titled movie in 1964, “A Hard Day’s Night”, which was written in one night, became an instant hit in both the UK and USA.  The song's (and film's) interesting title was apparently born from a spoken mishap made by Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr after working for a 24-hour period.  The song contains long, repeating notes, which is fairly uncommon in pop music, but then again, the Beatles always did make their own rules.
Rock and Roll Tabs  #5:
I'm a Believer (The Monkees)

Originally written by Neil Diamond, the recording by The Monkees in 1966 hit the number one spot on the US Billboard Charts, even after members of the band were convinced that the song was a failure. Producers, however weren't convinced that The Monkees had it in them as a band to record with instruments, so they were only allowed to sing and were pretty unhappy about it!
Rock and Roll Tabs  #6:
Rock and Roll (Led Zepellin)

This song technically falls outside the scope of the classic Rock and Roll period, but is so famous among guitarists looking for rock and roll songs, that I decided to include it here.  Written and released in 1971, "Rock and Roll" was written by Led Zepellin during a spontaneous jam session.  Based on one of the most popular musical structures of rock and roll, the song features a classic 12-bar blues progression.  Jimmy Page (Zepellin's guitarist) apparently bypassed his amps during the recording, and plugged directly into the sound console to achieve the muddy guitar sound heard on the track.
Notes on the Song

This song is likely the most challenging of all the tabs on this page.  It's guitar driven and played rather fast throughout.  Notice that the ^ symbols used throughout indicates bending and the notes in parentheses () indicate ghost notes which means they're played while the string is somewhat muted.  It's recommended to listen to the original recording in order to get the technique right.  This is especially true for the intro of the song.
Rock and Roll Tabs #7:
Love is All Around (The Troggs / Wet Wet Wet)

Though today more famous due to Wet Wet Wet's cover of the song in 1994, "Love is all around" was initially written and released by English rock band, The Troggs, in 1967.  When the song became an international hit in 1994, the original writers made millions in royalty fees. The Tab version below is more in line with Wet Wet Wet's cover and features their guitar intro and chords.
Notes on the Song

Wet Wet Wet's version of this song is a great exercise in picking while singing!  While the guitar intro is fairly straightforward, the real challenge lies in playing the VERSES OVERLAY RIFF during the verse, i.e. while singing (unless, of course, you don't sing :)

The alternate option is to simply play the chords in Bb.  These are all barre chords so if any of them are unfamiliar I recommend you grab hold of one of these free guitar chord charts.
Rock and Roll Tabs #8:
A Day in the Life (The Beatles)

Written independently by Paul McCartney and John Lennon (and later joined together with orchestral additions), "A Day in the Life" has occasionally been ranked as the greatest of all the Beatles' songs.  The song ends on a weird note (literally) with a meshed-up chord that players have been trying to reproduce accurately, since 1967.
Notes on the Song

If any of the chords are unfamiliar you can either check out the easy guitar chords page for visual instruction on how to play them, or (for more complicated chords) have a look at these free guitar chord charts.
Rock and Roll Tabs #9:
Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)

One of the very first rockabilly records of the 50's, "Blue Suede Shoes" was originally written and recorded by Carl Perkins, but was made truly famous through Elvis Presley's performances thereof on US National Television.  The original idea for the song came from country-singer Johnny Cash, who inspired Perkins to write the song.
Notes on the Song

If any of the chords are unfamiliar you can either check out the easy guitar chords page for visual instruction on how to play them, or (for more complicated chords) have a look at these free guitar chord charts.
Rock and Roll Tabs  #10:
Let's Twist Again (Chubby Checkers)

Chubby Checkers calls himself the man who got older folks on the dancefloor.  His 1961 hit "Let's Twist Again" was one of the biggest of the year and contributed to the early 60's Twist dance craze in the United States and elsewhere.  The song won the 1962 Grammy for Best Rock and Roll Recording.
Notes on the Song

If any of the chords are unfamiliar you can either check out the easy guitar chords page for visual instruction on how to play them, or (for more complicated chords) have a look at these free guitar chord charts.
Where to from here?
Learn Beginner Guitar Tabs
For more free song lessons, I highly recommend you check out what I've written on Jamplay.  Jamplay has over 350 professionally transcribed and recorded song lessons (the very best on the Internet).
Learn Chord Sets
Jamplay is Amazing
Mr Tambourine Man
(The Byrds)
Hound Dog
(Elvis
Presley)
I Get
Around

(Beach Boys)
A Hard Day's
Night

(The Beatles)
I'm A
Believer

(The Monkees)
Let's Twist
Again

(Chubby Checkers)
Blue Suede
Shoes

(Elvis Presley)
A Day in the
Life

(The Beatles)
Love is all
Around

(The Troggs /
Wet Wet Wet)
Rock and
Roll

(Led Zepellin)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Notes on the Song

The Guitar Intro is played here at a fairly upbeat tempo and the fingering for the first two "chords" that form part of the intro (on the bottom three strings) might take a while the master. 

The rest of the song is in the key of G (see Chord Progressions) and also includes an interlude right after the chorus, which is very similar to the intro.
Learn to play Mr Tambourine Man
Learn to play Hound Dog Elvis Presley
Learn to play I get around Beach Boys
Learn to play A Hard Days Night The Beatles
Learn to play Im a believer The Monkees
Learn to play Rock and Roll Led Zepellin
Learn to play Love is all around The Troggs
Learn to play A day in the Life The Beatles
Learn to play Blue suede shoes Elvis Presley
Learn to play Lets twist again Chubby Checkers
Learn to play Mr Tambourine Man
Learn to play Hound Dog Elvis Presley
Learn to play I get around Beach Boys
Learn to play A Hard Days Night The Beatles
Learn to play Im a believer The Monkees
Learn to play Rock and Roll Led Zepellin
Learn to play Love is all around The Troggs
Learn to play A day in the Life The Beatles
Learn to play Blue suede shoes Elvis Presley
Learn to play Lets twist again Chubby Checkers