How to Play Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay on Guitar

Hey, how’s it going this is Jon McLennan with Guitar Control, I’m going to show you how to play a song called “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. I’m going to break down playing rhythm guitar through the entire song it’s a great lesson. I’m going to zoom in and break it all down and let’s break down the verse and then I’ll show you the voicing that I’m using.


The first chord is a G, I’ve got my thumb on the 6th string 3rd fret then I skip a string and play 5, 4, 3, 3, and that’s my third finger on the 5th fret second finger on the 4th fret first finger barring 3rd fret, 3rd fret its top two strings there’s my G. Now I’m muting the 5th string I do that by jus leaning in this finger or reaching over a little extra with my thumb to get that string muted, so I can strum the whole chord.

Now that’s the same shape that I’m going to use for the entire verse I’m going to move it around so start out on the 3rd fret for one measure 1, 2, 3, then I go up to B which is this chord relocating 7th fret I’ve got 7, 9, 8, 7, 7. Now trying to leave your fingers on the strings don’t pick them up like this because then you have to start over.

Then I’m going to go to C one fret higher, I’m now in the 8th fret same chord that’s going to last for four two beats and two and then I’m beat 3. I go through and play 8th notes and I walk down every fret from C to B to B flat and I get to the A on the end of four so it’s one, two then I stay on that a 4-1 measure so 1, 2, 3, 4, let’s try that together slowly so I’ve got G, 2, 3, B, 1, B, 2, 3, 4, C, again g:c walk down, now the cool thing about playing thumb chords like this is it leaves other fingers free to do embellishments so kind of a Jimi Hendrix school of play hammer-on and pull-offs with my pinky so those are little embellishments that I might add but let’s start with just the changes so one now here’s a tip whenever I am doing sliding like that or moving quickly like three those are 8th notes and a chord on every 8th note. I’ll let go of the thumb but sometimes it feels a little clunky get kind of a smoother sad so that would be the only time when I wouldn’t use the thumb I mean you could of course do these you know just the major shapes so let’s play it together two times that’s going to be the verse you want to practice that chord progression over until it feels comfortable and then move on to the next part nice work so you’re feeling comfortable with that section let’s move on to the next part next up is the chorus and we’re going to use three chords let me play it for you first so I’ve got a G then I start on which is the same chord from the verse and that’s going to last for 4 beats 1, 2, 3, or each chord in the chorus lasts for 4 beats then I go to E which is open 2nd fret, 2nd fret, 1st fret open, back to G and back to E. So G, G, then G, A, G, E, from G to A.

I’m going to take that same cord and move it up so I went from the 3rd fret to the 5th fret that’s kind of a cool thing that I’ll do sometimes it’s if I’m going from the 3rd fret to the 5th fret there’s one fret in between so why not just go get that little chromatic passing chord in between it can be fun you don’t have to do it you can just go you just go straight away.

So what I did there was I went G to E again, I went to this E7 which is another chord possibility you could do it’s like a C chord and you add your pinky, so let me play the whole chorus walk up to A, let’s do it again G, G. Now we’re going to go to the bridge then we’re back to the 1st section so what I did for the bridge that final section if you’re looking at the chart it’s going to be letter C, you know Part C we’re going to go on a G chord again then we go to a D, which I play like this 5, 7, 7, 7, muting the 6th string and the 1st string and then down to C which is 3, 5, 5, 5, same chord again relocated so that’s three times.

G for 2B, D for two beats C for four beats that goes three times then F d7 to exit the bridge there. Let’s play it together, I’ll count the time so you see what I’m saying it’s like one same thing and 3. Now it’s hanging out and we’re back to the verse the first part again G up to B is C so let’s play the chorus into the bridge we go one, two, and we’re back to the first part so the only A section I guess you would need to know would be the ending which you know the whistle so B, G for three bars.

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