Tennessee Flat Top Box

by Johnny Cash • Lesson #145 • Apr 21, 2018

Video lesson

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages

Follow along with my print-friendly guide for this song! It’s available for purchase at Musicnotes.com, the web’s leading provider of licensed sheet music.

On the fence? Here's a guide I made showing the purchase & print process, including answers to common questions about my song sheets.

Buy at Musicnotes.com

Save 50% on this song sheet by applying the September 2023 code at Musicnotes checkout: WRKGBMXP7Y (click to copy). Thanks for being a Premium supporter!

Song Notes Premium includes a 50% discount code you can use when buying any of my licensed song sheets. For the current month's code, upgrade to premium or log in.

Editor’s notes

In this video I’ll teach you how to play “Tennessee Flat Top Box” by Johnny Cash, including a tutorial for the intro tab, the chords needed, strumming patterns used, and more! This is one of the funnest Cash songs to play, in my opinion – it combines simple verse chords & strumming with a complicated (but approachable) riff heard in the intro and interlude. Enjoy! Make sure you put a capo on 3 if you want to play along with Cash’s album version.

  • 0:00 Lesson preview & greeting
  • 1:23 Capo or no capo?
  • 1:57 Verse chords
  • 2:45 Verse strumming
  • 3:45 Verse lyrics & chord changes
  • 4:36 Main riff, part 1 of 2
  • 7:32 Main riff, part 2 of 2
  • 11:01 Riff extras: how to transition back to verse
  • 14:36 Riff extras: how its played in song’s intro
  • 16:10 Full song playthrough

My full play-along cover

Capo to play along with Johnny Cash

If you want to play along with Johnny Cash’s version, use the chords I show you with a capo on the 3rd fret. I’m choosing not to play with a capo to keep things simple and accessible.

Chords needed

These are the chords you’ll need for the verse:

e –––3––––2––––
B –––0––––1––––
G –––0––––2––––
D –––0––––0––––
A –––2–––––––––
E –––3–––––––––
     G    D7

Intro riff

This is what’s heard in the opening measures of the song:

See sheet music for my tab.

Interlude riff

This one is very similar to the intro riff, the only difference being how it begins. Note that they both end the same.

Play through these two sections twice:

See sheet music for my tab.

Then, play this to end it and transition into the next verse:

See sheet music for my tab.

Lyrics w/ chords

See sheet music for the lyrics with chords.

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful. Be sure to check out my other Johnny Cash lessons, I have a bunch!

Browse Related Lessons

Click any tag below to view other lessons I've made in that category:

About Song Notes

Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

Get Free Lessons Each Week!

Join the 20,000+ readers who get my new lessons dropped in their inbox each week. I teach a fun mix of songs, weekly riffs, practice ideas, and more!

Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).

Fun & Helpful Tools I've Made

Fret Monster

Interactive fretboard map! See the patterns behind every scale in any key.


Capo Captain

An easy way to calculate key & chord combinations, for any capo location!


Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!

Recent Lessons

Browse All Recent Lessons →

Browse All My Lessons

By lesson type

By technique

By musical genre

By decade

By musical key

By popular artist

← back to homepage