How to Play the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ Guitar Riff (Part 1)

This is a detailed tutorial on how to play the guitar riff for Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. This tutorial is split into 2 parts. Part 1 deals with the chords and the basic picking pattern. Part 2 deals with the lead in line to complete the guitar riff, and palm muting to get the guitar part sound more like the actual song homesweethome.

Here is part 1 of the tutorial:

1. Chords
The riff for Sweet Home Alabama uses the chord shapes in this very order: D, Cmaj9, and G. Here is an outline of how each chord will be shaped.

D chord:
| x 0 0 2 3 x |
(The order of the tabs are from top string to bottom string. | E A D G B E | or | 6 5 4 3 2 1 |. The ‘x’ means that the string is not being used for the chord.)

Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string and your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. Because the bottom E string isn’t used in the riff, an ‘x’ is placed on the string in the tab.

Cadd9 chord:
| 0 3 2 0 3 x |
For this chord, place you middle finger on the 3rd fret of the A string, index finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string.

G chord:
| 3 2 0 0 3 x |
For this chord, have your middle finger placed on the 3rd fret of the top E string, index finger on the A string, and the ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string.

Before moving on to the picking of the song, be sure to be comfortable switching between the chords. There are two things that can help making these chord switches simple. First, the ring finger never comes off the 3rd fret of the B string in the three chords, so you can keep it on the string during the whole riff. The second thing has to do with the chord change from Cadd9 to G. They both have similar shapes. All you have to do is move your index and middle fingers up one string.

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