House of the Rising Sun

A lot has been and be said and written about the song House of the Rising Sun. I will leave it up to you to search the internet engines for all the lore, conjecture and legend that surrounds this enduring and fascinating piece of music.

Jump straight to tab/score video

For now here is a page for beginning guitarists to get started with. Just click the links ...or read on if you want some more support. 

Go Straight to Beginners Arrangement -Bass Line 

or read on for the beginners Bass Arrangement below...

Go Straight to Beginners Arrangement -Melody

or click here to go to the Beginners melody arrangement support page

Go Straight to Beginners Arrangement -Simple Harmony

or click here to go to the Beginners harmony arrangement support page

Click here to get the free PDF of all three parts in one score

Get the free GuitarPro6 file with all three parts here


See the tab/score video below


Who Are These Arrangements For?

The beginners can play along with others by grasping the structure and relevant single note participation of the bass. (this page)

Upper level beginners as well as the bass can play the harmony OR the melody separately

Intermediate players can play an arpeggiated harmony with variations and implied melody with common voicings and inversions. 

Advanced players may find this an inspiration to arrange their own version of House of the Rising Sun. If this article helps please let me know. I’d be happy to share your arrangement should you wish it to be shared. 


Why House of the Rising Sun?

I must admit I, like many, am most familiar with the timeless House of the Rising Sun rendition recorded by Eric Burden and the Animals back in the 60’s. Saying that as a time served gigging musician who is old enough to remember, it was and still is a song that comes up everywhere from in books to at BBQ’s, parties and pubs, bands and buskers, films, TV, radio… LOTS of versions!

My goal here is to offer a PlayableGuitar.com version of House of the Rising Sun, a bewitching song that has withstood the time test challenge.


How to Play House of the Rising Sun: Beginners Bass Line

Ok let’s try to keep it simple to start. Here is a playable bass line accompaniment for any new players who are capable of getting single notes to sound and ring clearly on a guitar.

For us beginners:

Look at the image of the tablature (or tab for short) above. If you don’t understand what you are looking at go to

Guitar Music Theory Intro to Tablature

Check out the video and/or give me shout for some support on understanding tablature.

If you do understand the tab above then here also are all the notes you will need shown in diagram form:

(if you don't get how the diagram works go to Go straight to Orientation Video )


1) Notice the that there are six "dots" (six notes) and six corresponding fret numbers on the "string lines" showing 6 beats per bar, or measure in the tab above. 

2) You WILL easily be able to count to six (I'm sure) and on every word "one" spoken, which is beat 1 of the bar, play the note that is the number 1 beat slot in each bar. Replace the word "one" with the action of playing a note.

Ex: -"play" 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - So:

"play A" 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - "playA3" 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - etc...

So bar one you play open A string beat 1


Bar two you play A string fret 3 (or A3 in "verbal tab" for the note C) on beat 1


To continue:

Bar three is open D string beat 1


Bar four is D string fret 3 (or D3 which is the note pitch F)  beat 1

That's it! Well nearly...

You must follow the following sequence for this version:

One note (ringing for 6 beats) per bar which includes

OPEN LOW E STRINGS in bars 7 & 8 and bars 10 & 12  =

A                      A3                           D                               D3 

A                      A3                            E                               E

A                      A3                            D                              D3

A                      E                              A                               E

Download the *tab(s) and/or use you ear to play the 1st beat of every bar (open A, A3, open D, D3 -and the open low E  when it comes up) to begin building you confidence, skill and technique. Play along with as many real people and recordings as you can.


*Big important "nota bene" here: The Bass Part tab above looks diferent than the first example tab because it shows only the bass note ringing for six beats throughout each bar. I wanted you to see the arpeggiated part that has a note on every beat so you could see how the six beats per bar time works! Don't let that visual difference confuse you! 

Happy Playing!

Contact me if you have any questions. I love questions 

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