Tears In Heaven

Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton (Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson)

Scroll down for full video lesson (with tab) of Tears In Heaven.

Tears In Heaven was written by Eric Clapton in 1992 after his son tragically fell from an apartment window in New York and died. The songs appears on the album 'Rush' and went on to win 3 grammy awards.

This is a truly moving and beautiful song and should be approached with care and great respect. It's not overly complicated to play but it certainly has its difficulties, one of the main problems you may run into is separating the bass notes from the higher register strings. Pay close attention to the role of the thumb and do try to get it as accurately played as possible.

The song is made up of a quick introduction, a verse, chorus and a bridge. All of the song is in the key of A major with the exception of the bridge where it modulates to G major.

Tears In Heaven is no. 19 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.

The majority of the song is played between the thumb and the 1st and 2nd fingers, with the thumb constantly playing the E and A strings and the 1st and 2nd fingers almost always playing the G and B strings.

Clapton always plays this song on a nylon strung classical guitar as opposed to a steel strung, this is because the stings on classical guitars give a warmer and more gentle feel, however you can by all means play it on your steel strung.

Tears In Heaven Song Facts:

  • Won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal.
  • Highest charting song Clapton ever wrote.
  • Will Jennings contributed to the Writing of Tears In Heaven
  • Rolling Stone ranked Tears In Heaven 362nd in their list 'The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time'. (I would have put it considerably higher)
  • Released 8th January 1992
  • Key A major
  • tempo - 77 Bpm


The song uses many slash chords throughout and rhythmically uses mostly 8th notes.

Tears In Heaven Intro

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The verse is similar to the intro with only a change to the final few chords.

Tears In Heaven Verse


For the chorus it moves to the relative minor chord of A (F#m) and the bass note descends down the low E string.

Tears In Heaven Chorus

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Here is where the song moves from the key of A major to G major. This really goes to show the power of a great key change, it adds such a tremendous lift to the song.

Tears In Heaven Bridge

Bonus Lesson (for the fancy pants guitar player):

For the bonus lesson here I've added in the second guitar to the mix. The extra layers add a huge amount to the song and I think that even if you're playing the song alone you should put it in. I hope you enjoy!

Tears in Heaven AdvancedIf 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.

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    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 12th May 2018 at 7:28 pm

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