Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
by Otis Redding • Lesson #440 • Jun 18, 2022
Today you’ll learn how to play Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, the Otis Redding classic from 1968. This one is a ton of fun to play on the guitar, even though you may not think of guitar when you listen to it. I’ll teach you to play it using only 7 chords (using only open chords, all of which major). I’ll show you a few ways to strum it, including both beginner-friendly and more advanced strums.
For those of you who are looking for a bit of a challenge, I’ll also teach you the subtle walk-up and walk-down heard during the verse of Redding’s album version — in addition to explaining the rhythm behind the pushed chord changes that give the song’s rhythm a bit of distinction. These may take a bit of practice to get comfortable with, but they sound great when used together. Let’s jump in!
Free Video Lesson
- 0:00 Preview & Lesson Summary
- 1:30 Verse & Chorus Basics
- 4:50 Strumming Patterns
- 8:49 Bridge
- 12:45 Walk-Up & Walk-Down
- 16:52 Pushed Chord Changes
- 20:21 Full Playthrough
Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages
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Backing Track Available
I made two simple drum backing tracks for you to use while playing this song.
One is at 104 beats per minute, which is the tempo heard in Otis Redding’s album recording of this song. If you want to play at the exact same speed as him, use this one. This is what’s heard in my play-along cover at the end of my video lesson. Download as mp3 (audio)
The other is slightly slower, paced at 96 beats per minute. If you find Redding’s version moves too fast for you, I recommend this track as it’ll give you a bit more time to make the chord changes (etc). Once you’re comfortable with with this tempo, I’d encourage you to try using the 104bpm track. Download as mp3 (audio)
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Listen to Otis Redding’s Recording
Played at 104 beats per minute. Key of G, standard tuning.
Additional Lessons To Help With This Song
Here’s instructional lessons I’ve made teaching concepts that are useful in this song.
Walk-ups, Walk-downs, and the fretboard
Bass Note Strumming (Essential Technique)
Playing G major chord with only 2 fingers
F Chord, Made Easy: 7 Alternatives to the Barred Version
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