- Alternate picking
- Barre chords
- Power chords
- String muting
Our guitar lesson on Jailhouse Rock will teach you how to play the Elvis Presley version of this popular oldie. This is a really fun song to learn, and other than the solo, it's very easy as well. Keep in mind that to fully enjoy this song, you'll need to play along with the backing track, or the original Elvis version, since there are a lot of instruments at play, and the guitar, by itself, isn't really enough.
Before we get to the lesson, please note that I teach this song in standard tuning, and the backing track is in standard tuning as well. However, the Elvis version is in an alternate tuning, all strings are tuned down half a step. So if you want to play along with the Elvis original, then you'll need to tune everything down a half step, but if you just want to practice along with the backing track, you're good to go in standard tuning.
So in our video tutorial of Elvis's Jailhouse Rock, we'll be learning the guitar parts to the intro/verse, the chorus, and a short solo. The intro and chorus sections of the song are easy, they are at a Level I difficulty, but the solo is harder, it's a Level 3. If you're just starting out at the guitar, just leave the solo until you are more proficient at the guitar.
The intro/verse consists of a 1 fret slide between two power chords. It'll give you a great chance to practice sliding between power chords, a technique used in many songs. Nothing special is going on in this section of the song yet, you'll just need to watch your timing. You'll play the power chord slide 4 times, holding out the chord 3 times around, and going into the chorus after the 4th go.
The chorus to Jailhouse Rock is a classic rock n roll style riff. You'll basically be arpeggiating chords with the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes, adding the 6th which is responsible for that rock feel. The chord progression is A to E to B to A then turnaround on E. What's interesting here is that the piano plays a swing rhythm, but you, as the guitarist, need to play a straight rhythm. You'll see what I'm talking about in the lesson though. I forgot to mention it in the lesson, but you should be playing this section of the song using palm muting.
At the end of the video lesson, we'll also learn a short solo. As I mentioned, it's pretty tough as compared to the rest of the song, since we'll need to mute strings while playing 2 non-adjacent strings, bending them, then play a few barre chords.
Jailhouse Rock song details
Elvis Presley's version of Jailhouse Rock was recorded in 1957, and it's #67 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was originally written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, a songwriting-composing-producing duo, who also wrote Stand by Me for Ben E King.
Jailhouse Rock was recorded by a bunch of other artists as well, like the Blues Brothers, ZZ top, Michael Bolton, ABBA, Motley Crue, so it might be fun for you to listen to their versions as well. After watching our Jailhouse Rock guitar lesson, it might be fun to watch other versions of the song as well.
The video of the song by Elvis is considered to be the first-ever music video, make sure you check it out! It's a piece of music history.
Jailhouse Rock chart performance
- US Billboard The Hot 100: #1
- US double-platinum certification for sales of the single
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