Sweet Caroline

by Neil Diamond • Lesson #15 • Dec 20, 2013

Editor’s Notes

Hey friends - here’s a play-along cover of Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond), played in standard tuning with no capo. I’ll show the chords and lyrics as I play, in addition to the strumming pattern - so you can follow along. Chord shapes, chord progressions, and tabs are provided as well – helping you pick up & run with this song. My print-friendly song sheet (below) contains the tabs, etc for both of the video lessons shown below.

Play-Along Cover (Lesson #286)

Full Song Tutorial (Lesson #15)

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 4 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.

Notes and tabs

Capo 2nd fret, standard tuning

In order to play along with Neil Diamond’s recorded version of this song, you’ll need to add a capo to the 2nd fret (and use the chords shown above). Note that a capo is by no means required – you can use these tabs to play the song without a capo, just note you won’t be able to play along with Neil Diamond’s album version.

Guitar chords used

Here’s how you play the guitar chords used in this song. For the most part, you can get away with only using A, D, and E if you’re not yet able to do barre chords.

      A    D    E    A6   Bm  C#m

During the pre-chorus, I’ll use these chords positions to do the buildup that comes before the chorus. These are by no means required, but add a bit of extra voicing to the buildup. The tab I show further below describes this approach in more detail.

      A6   D    E    E7

Intro tab

Here’s how you can approximate the horn intro to the album version of this song using an acoustic guitar. The main part of this is the riff, which is played mostly all on the A string. For added oomph, you’ll want to also be picking/strumming the low E string along with the bass riff. This can be pretty tricky to do well – so if you’re having trouble with it, focus on the bassline by itself first, and only add the droning low-E string as your comfort level rises.

See sheet music for tab. <!-- e ||----------------------------|----------------------------|-----------------------------|| B ||----------------------------|----------------------------|-----------------------------|| G ||----------------------------|----------------------------|-----------------------------|| D ||----------------------------|----------------------------|-----------------------11-9--|| A ||--2-4-5---2-4-5-4-2---5-4-2-|--5-7-9---5-7-9-7-5---9-7-5-|--9-11-12---9-11-12-11-------|| E ||-(0)------------------------|-(0)------------------------|-(0)-------------------------|| -->

Written out with counting, it would look like this.

See sheet music for tab.

Making the intro sound fancy

One tip to flesh out the sound of the intro is to add droning bass notes on the open low-E string. With extra droning bass note added, the same tab would look like this. Again, only move in this direction once you have the melody notes under your comfortable control.

See sheet music for tab.

You can even double-up the droning bass note if you want to really dig into this technique. The idea is to down DOWN strums on the 1-2-3-4 counts, and UP strums on all “+” counts… played this way, the open low-E string is always played with a down-strum.

See sheet music for tab.

Finally, you can spice up the final two notes (at the very end) by adding these notes on the 5th and 6th strings (along with the melody notes played on the 4th string). This is slightly tricker to pull off, but really helps pack a punch into the final few counts.

See sheet music for tab.

Building Up the Pre-Chorus

Here is how I like to play the pre-chorus buildup. This isn’t required, and is certainly a bit more tricky than using the standard open chords, but adds some nice swell to transition into the chorus. What’s great about this is how the note on high-E string goes up in tone with each chord. Here’s the tabs for the chords I play, check out my video lesson for additional reference.

See sheet music for tab.

Rocking the Chorus Hook

Here is one way you can approximate the audience-favorite “oh, oh, oh…” part on an acoustic guitar. This is by no means required (in fact, you can skip the Bm7 and stay on D instead), but it is a nice way to capture the spirit of that heavy bass walkdown in a solo acoustic rendition. Listen along for reference, and check out my video lesson to see how this is done.

See sheet music for tab.

You can also play it like this, which involves playing triads higher up on the fretboard:

See sheet music for tab.

Bass Walk-Up from E to A

In the middle of the chorus, here is one way to transition up from the E to an A via a bassnote walk-up. This is done entirely on the 6th (low E) string. Nice and straightforward, listen along for reference.

      D                             E                           A
     "...Good times never seemed so good..."

Or, you could do it on the higher strings like this.

      D                             E                           A
     "...Good times never seemed so good..."

Bass Walk-Down from E to A

At the end of the verse progression, here is one way you transition down from the E to an A. Again, listen along for reference.

      A                               E                         A
     "...But then I know it's growing strong..."


The most straightforward strumming pattern I’d recommend using is this one, which is a “Down, down, up-down-up” to the timing shown below. If you can, accent the 2 and 4 counts to give them a bit of extra oomph.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D   D     U D U
    >       >

Alternatively, you could do a more palm-muted rhythmic strum, which during the verses would be all down strums on the 1-2-3-4 counts. See my video lesson to hear this in context. Doing this during the verses is especially nice, as you can then open it up (and go to the full strum) during the chorus sections.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D   D   D   D  
    >       >

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