Stop This Train

Stop This Train by John Mayer (Full Guitar Lesson with TABS)

Stop This Train was written by singer-songerwriter and guitarist John Mayer in the mid 2000s, it appears on his hugely successful album 'Continuum' and was released in September 2006. It's a song we can all relate to and predominantly it's the lyrics that affect us the most, at some point we all feel somewhat lost and afraid of growing older.

As well as the beautiful words to Stop This Train, the acoustic guitar is also wonderfully constructed. It isn't an easy song to play and the tricky right hand technique will likely take some real work to get comfortable.

John employs a percussive tap on the bass strings on beats two and four throughout the song, and at the same time as these taps he plucks other strings down with the nail of his index finger. If you've never done this before you will almost certainly find it incredibly uncomfortable and hard to get accurate at first. For that reason I strongly recommend practising and mastering this technique before moving on to learn the rest of the song.

Song Details:

  • Key - D major
  • Tempo - 90 bpm
  • Tuning - standard
  • Difficulty - intermediate - advanced 

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Intro/Main Riff

As mentioned above, the hardest part about the song is the picking technique, so I recommend learning the right hand pattern first and practising it over and over again until you can play it well. As always, focus on accuracy over speed.



For the verse of Stop This Train you'll need to have pretty large hands to play the chords that John does. You have to stretch your fingers from the 3rd fret on the low E string to the 7th on the high e. If you can't quite make it then you could just play a G chord for the four bars.

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There's a lot going on in the chorus of Stop This Train, with many small nuances to apply. Virtually everybody plays this song slightly differently, so please don't get too caught up and meticulous about playing every note exactly the same way I have.

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1st Bridge 

Just before going into the third chorus there's a quick four-bar bridge. This shouldn't be too tricky to play if you've got the picking pattern down, as you just use that pattern right through the progression.

2nd Bridge 

Heading towards the end of Stop This Train we have another bridge to deal with.

If you want to make sure that you're really on the right track with fingerpicking, then try one of my fingerstyle guitar courses - find out more here.

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.

Recent Song Lessons

  1. Diane left a comment on 17th May 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Chris, loved this tutorial. I’m a singer songwriter who has written a couple of crazy hard guitar picking songs, but this one has eluded me. Thank you for breaking it down for me

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 20th May 2019 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks Diane, glad you like the lessons. Would love to hear your songs.

  2. Tanner left a comment on 24th July 2019 at 5:07 am

    Thank you so much for this. Excellent tutorial!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 25th July 2019 at 10:29 am

      It’s a real pleasure.

  3. Nancy left a comment on 26th August 2019 at 2:26 am

    Thanks so much for putting the actual sheet music on here! Once I got the rhythm technique with the thumb slaps, it’s a lot of fun to play. Great tutorial but I don’t want to have to play it from memory. Now I’ll have it in my notebook and can just read it, which is easier for me than catching every note in the tutorial. Really appreciate that.

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 26th August 2019 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Nancy, really pleased that you like the lesson. Keep up the practise!

    • Rog left a comment on 26th June 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Hi – still trying to master this one by John Meyer. One thing I’ve noticed though. In the intro he picks the 2nd + 4th string (with hammer on the 2nd) for the first chord (D sus2) but he seems to pick the 1st + 4th for the others. That’s also reflected in the shheet music too.

      • Golbi left a comment on 26th September 2020 at 9:02 pm

        so whats this guy’s point??? XD

  4. Rawley left a comment on 9th September 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Great lesson, this is awesome

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 10th September 2019 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Rawley.

  5. stephen parkins left a comment on 16th January 2020 at 8:11 am

    hi chris
    so glad i found this awesome stuff
    best regards
    steve from oz:)

    will def, buy your lessons

    exactly what i have been looking for

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 16th January 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Hey Stephan, really glad you like the site! Love Oz, lived in Brisbane for two years, miss it all the time. The current fires are truly awful, my thoughts are with you.

  6. Julia left a comment on 28th April 2020 at 6:40 pm

    ive had so much fun learning this song while staying at home for the past few weeks! thanks for the great videos!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 1st May 2020 at 10:29 am

      Pleasure Julia.

  7. Jim left a comment on 9th June 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Tabs are now hidden behind paywall?

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 11th June 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Afraid so – Copyright.

  8. Royce Fernandes left a comment on 29th June 2020 at 10:21 am

    This is probably the only good tutorial out there on Stop this train.

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 3rd July 2020 at 9:46 am

      Thank you very much, glad you think so.

  9. Golbi left a comment on 26th September 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Like honestly….. You have a lot of discipline dude WELL DONE!! Helped me out a ton!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 28th September 2020 at 10:31 am

      Thanks a lot Golbi, appreciate it.

  10. David Shangwen van Buren left a comment on 6th April 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Great lesson. You’re a fantastic guitar teacher

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 10th April 2021 at 11:36 am

      Thanks a lot David!

  11. David left a comment on 6th April 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Great lesson. You make it easy to understand. Now I just have to practice.

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