Jolene Guitar Lesson

Jolene by Dolly Parton – Full Guitar Lesson & TABs

Jolene was written by American Country artist Dolly Parton in 1973 and the song went on to reach the number one spot on the US Country Songs (Billboard).

In this lesson we're going to learn how to play the acoustic guitar part to Jolene as recorded on the original track. The chords throughout the song are very simple; however, with the tempo being at 110 bpm, it's pretty fast and sometimes the fingerpicking patterns can be pretty demanding. So really go slow when first starting out.

Song Details:

  • Capo - 4th fret
  • Key - A minor without capo (C# minor with)
  • Tuning - standard
  • Tempo - 110 bpm
  • Difficulty - intermediate 

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The Lesson


There's only three parts that make up Jolene. They are the intro/main fingerpicking riff, the verse and the chorus. So once you've learnt each individual section, you shouldn't struggle too much putting it all together. 

Intro (0:43)

Jolene starts out with a short four bar intro, which is just the main riff of the song repeated four times. This is the hardest part of the song to master, so really take your time with it. 

Chorus (3:59)

After the intro it goes straight into the chorus, this is pretty uncommon in songs but works fantastically well here. If you've got the intro down then this section shouldn't be too hard for you.

Verse (7:09)

The verse is very similar to the chorus of Jolene, it's mostly just the chord progression that has changed a little. 

Song Structure:

Intro, Chorus, Verse, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Outro

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If you enjoyed this lesson and are keen to learn more, then any of these song lessons will be a great next step for you: Landslide (Fleetwood Mac), Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton), Romeo And Juliet (Dire Straits), Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

Alternatively you can browse the whole song catalog: Song Lesson Library

Let me know what you thought of the lesson in the comments section below. Say what you found hard/easy, what level you're at and what your fingerpicking goals are. 

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