Lonesome Town

by Ricky Nelson • Lesson #38 • Jan 7, 2017

Editor’s Notes

This video is an acoustic guitar lesson for the song Lonesome Town by Ricky Nelson. I’ll show you how to play it in standard tuning, using a fingerpicking approach. This lesson includes a playthrough, explanation of how to play each chord, overview of the chord progressions needed, fingerpicking basics – I cover it all! Including the difference between a shuffle vs. straight rhythm. I created this tutorial for Song Notes, which is my personal music lesson web project (video and text-based lessons).

Free Video Lesson

Timestamps:

  • 0:00 Preview
  • 2:23 About this lesson
  • 3:46 How to play the chords
  • 5:42 Fingerpicking basics
  • 7:11 Using your thumb on the F
  • 9:56 Shuffle rhythm basics

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 April 2024 code at Musicnotes checkout: N7AYZ9ADNV (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.

A Nod to the Original Songwriter

Finally, I should note that this song was written by Baker Knight and not Ricky Nelson. For more info about the song, refer to its page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonesome_Town

Jack Rabbit Slims in Pulp Fiction

Just for some cultural and cinematic flavor, here is the famous Jack Rabbit Slims tracking shot from Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction – where an in-costume Ricky Nelson is playing live music as the main characters walk through the restaurant. In the film, Lonesome Town is played immediately after this sequence.

And here is the Jack Rabbit Slims dining scene in which Lonesome Town can be heard in the background.

Other videos

Ricky Nelson Solo Version

Here is a nice video of Ricky playing this song with just him and his guitar (no backup). You can’t quite see the guitar (to help with fingering, strumming pattern, etc) – but it is helpful nonetheless. Note that he plays this with a guitar tuned down one-half step. Also note that he may steal your girlfriend.

To get a good and clear look at someone skillfully playing this on guitar, I recommend this video by Mike Sinatra. Very well-played and well-shot acoustic performance, without any crazy changing cameras. Note, to play along with him you’ll need to use a capo on the 3rd fret in standard tuning (which would be a capo 4th fret if tuned down one-half step).

Unlock My Secret Stash!

Gain instant access to my library of 220 print-friendly cheat sheets! Also includes my extended video lessons, jam tracks, courses, and more.

Join Song Notes Premium

Have questions? Watch video tour »

Browse Related Lessons

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

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.

View

Capo Captain

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

View

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

  • April 18, 2024

    "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens

    Learn how to play Cat Stevens' 1971 classic! I include campfire-friendly chords and strumming, and a step-by-step breakdown of the intro fingerstyle riff.

  • April 9, 2024

    Chords & Music Theory... 9 New Lessons!

    A roundup of a batch of new chord-related video lessons & PDF cheat sheets I just added to my library! Lots of good stuff here, be sure not to miss 'em.

  • March 30, 2024

    Gordon Lightfoot's "Carefree Highway"

    Learn how to play Lightfoot's 1975 classic, with plenty of tips to help simplify some of the quicker chord changes.

  • March 22, 2024

    Lead Guitar & the F1 Theme Song

    Let's look at the catchy Formula 1 theme song and learn how to play it on lead guitar...including handy trick for dealing with the key change.

  • March 15, 2023

    Pink Floyd's "Breathe" - with Simpler Chords Included

    Learn to play through Pink Floyd's 1973 classic! I'll teach the chords they use, while also showing a handful of useful simplifications and riffs to make this work on a single acoustic guitar.

  • March 6, 2024

    Q&A: 8 Tips to Avoid Muting Strings

    If you're frustrated by muffled, muted, or buzzing strings when playing chords, you're not alone! Here's 8 tips to avoid this common issue.

  • March 1, 2024

    Blues Shuffle Riffs - Using Just 2 Strings!

    A step-by-step introduction to blues shuffle riffs in open position, which are an amazingly fun-to-play way to get that blues sound with just a few fingers.

  • February 16, 2024

    Soulful Lead Guitar with "America the Beautiful"

    Here's a few ways to approach playing melodic lead guitar over America is Beautiful - shown both on an acoustic and electric guitar. Lots of fun!

  • February 8, 2024

    Country Honk by The Rolling Stones

    Let's learn how to play The Stones' acoustic & countrified version of Honky Tonk Women — with all the riffs included!

  • January 31, 2024

    Beginner Blues - New Course Sneak Peek!

    Watch the first three videos of my upcoming course, Beginner Blues Guitar — where I'll teach youthe 12 bar blues, dominant 7th chords, and the shuffle (swing) rhythm.

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