Old Pine by Ben Howard

How to Play Old Pine by Ben Howard on Guitar (Fingerstyle Lesson)

Scroll down for full video lesson (with tab) of Old Pine by Ben Howard

Old Pine was written by English singer-songwriter Ben Howard in 2011 and appears on his debut album 'Every Kingdom'. A few lessons back we learnt how to play Keep Your Head Up by Howard, and although Old Pine has its challenges it's not quite as hard to play you'll be pleased to hear. The right hand doesn't have to work as hard and the tempo is considerably slower, and there's not that really awkward 'pick and go' technique that he applies to so many of his songs.

Howard is big fan of alternate tunings and so the very first thing you must do is tune to C, G, C, G, G, C and then plonk a capo on the 5th fret. Once that's in place you're good to go and you can start learning the song.

Old Pine is no. 28 on my Top 60 Fingerpicking Songs of ALL TIME list. If you've not seen the list be sure to check it out and sign up to my weekly email lesson so you don't miss learning any of these great fingerstyle songs.

Song Details:

  • Key - F major
  • Tempo - 149 bpm
  • Tuning - C, G, C, G, G, C
  • Capo 5th
  • Time signature - 4/4
  • Difficulty - intermediate


The key thing to master with the intro is getting all the notes to really ring into one another so make sure that you don't accidentally knock a string and mute it. Another thing you can try and get in (that's not on the tab) is the subtle slides he does on the high E string when he's descending through the intro chords, listen out for it on the record.

Old Pine Intro

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The verse riff is pretty tricky the first few times you try it, mainly it's getting the rhythm right that's the hard part and again letting the notes ring into one another. Play it slowly at first and gradually the speed will come when it's ready to.

Old Pine Verse

Part 2:


The chorus is by far the easiest part of the song, just simply strum the chords on beat one and let them ring for two bars.

Old Pine Chorus


The outro is simple and very effective, he's just moving around the same shape all over the neck - it's amazing the possibilities that alternate tunings can give you.

Old Pine Outro

Mini Bio/Guitar Style of Ben Howard

Ben Howard was born in London in 1987 and moved to Devon (South West England) when he was 8 years old. He was raised in a musical family and was constantly exposed to his parent's favourite music, often listening to artists such as John Martyn, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and many more singer-songwriters of the 60s/70s f0lk era. All this music rubbed off on him and you can hear it in his playing today.

Howard has a very unusual technique to playing guitar and if you watch clips of him you can see his right hand is held in an unorthodox position, often far up the strings and close to the neck of the guitar. He favours an approach to playing which he calls 'pick and go', this technique allows him to strum, pick notes and at the same time add percussive slaps to enhance the rhythm. He also frequently uses alternate tunings including CGCGGC and DADF#AD, which have been used in many of his songs.

If you have any questions or want to share anything at all then please leave a comment below.

I hope you've found this lesson useful and thank you for reading.

  1. tuning electric guitar with tuner left a comment on 18th September 2018 at 9:47 am

    I like this site so much, saved to fav. “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” by Peter De Vries.

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 18th September 2018 at 10:33 am

      Thank you, not familiar with that one but I’ll check it out!

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