Difficulty: Level IIILevel IIILevel III
Length: 24:58
Dock of the Bay Wikipedia pageWikipedia page
Dock of the Bay music videoArtist website
Dock of the Bay music videoMusic video
With our guitar tutorial on Dock of the Bay, you will learn these guitar skills:
  • Chord changes
  • Chords
  • Hammer-ons
  • Slides

I have to admit, this was one of my favorite lessons to record, simply because I really love this song, Dock of the Bay has a great vibe to it that you don’t find often. Our Dock of the Bay guitar lesson will teach you how to play all of the guitar parts to this incredible song. And not just the chord progressions, but the solos played by the 2nd guitarist as well.

The tutorial can be split into 2 parts. We’ll first learn every chord progression played by the rhythm guitarist, and in the second part, we’ll be learning the solos played by the 2nd guitarist. These solos should be played over the rhythm guitar chord progressions we already learned, they harmonize really beautifully.

TIP: Get together with a guitar buddy and play this song together, where you play rhythm, he/she plays the harmonizing solos. And vice versa of course.

We’ll kick off our (Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay tutorial by learning the intro, which is really just a few notes. We’ll continue by learning the verse chords and chord progression, which is a staple of Dock of the Bay. As a small bonus, I’ll also teach you a fun baseline you can use while playing the verse. It’s simple but adds a great effect to the chord progression.

Next, we’ll learn the chorus chords, which are very simple. You’ll be using easy single strums to play the chorus, with 1 strum per chord. Just goes to show you that you don’t need to get all fancy to create a Grammy Award-winning song…

And after the chorus, we’ll be learning the bridge chords, which is a classic I-IV-V progression

Once we got the chords down and have the general melody ringing in our head, we’ll move into learning the lead guitar sections played by the 2nd guitarist. We’ll learn separate solos for each part of the song, so for the verse, chorus, and bridge as well. You’ll get a chance to practice several important lead guitar techniques here, so give it time, and practice it a lot.

Dock of the Bay song details

Dock of the Bay was recorded by Otis Redding in 1967, just a few days before his unfortunate death. The song was thus released after his death, going on to win 2 Grammy Awards, as well as rising to the top of the charts in the US and UK. A first for a posthumous song by the way.

He started writing the song on a houseboat in California, where he watched the “ships come in and I watch them roll away again."

Musically speaking, Dock of the Bay is an interesting song to dissect. Instead of doing it myself, have a look at this and this forum threads if you want to understand what’s going on.

Dock of the Bay awards and rankings

  • Best R&B Song Grammy Award
  • Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy Awards
  • US Billboard Hot 100: #1
  • Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles: #1
  • UK Singles Chart: #3

If you want to refine the skills you learned in Dock of the Bay, check out these lessons on songs by clicking these links:
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