King of the Road

by Roger Miller • Lesson #463 • Dec 10, 2022


Hey there, friends! Here’s a lesson teaching you how to play Roger Miller’s 1965 classic King of the Road. I’ll be teaching a Key of G arrangement to keep things simple — especially in the second half, where the key change will bring us to Key of A. This allows you to avoid barre chords altogether — and you can simply add a capo 3rd fret if you want to play along with Miller’s version. For strumming, I’ll show you three different options — from which you can pick the best match for your skill level. This one is a blast to play, and I hope you enjoy!

Free Video Lesson

Intro Riff Tutorial

Requires membership to Song Notes Premium. Learn how to play a simplified version of the bassline riff you hear in Miller’s recorded version. This makes for a great intro to the song, played in a manner that works well on an acoustic guitar.

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Vocal Melody Tutorial

Requires membership to Song Notes Premium. Here’s a video diving into the vocal melody this song uses, shown with a full tab. If you want to sing along or practice basic lead guitar over this melody, this is quite valuable to practice. This video includes a practice clip where you see me use the melody tab to “train” my voice, the night before I recorded my main video lesson for this song.

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Backing Track Tutorial

Requires membership to Song Notes Premium. This video explains how to use the “snap” backing tracks I made while playing this song. I wanted to demonstrate this for you via video, as it’s a bit tricky to get the hang of at first.

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Backing Track Audio File

To play or download the audio “snap” backing tracks I made, use the links below. One track is full speed (116bpm), while the other is a bit slower (100bpm). Both feature a recreation of the basic “snap” sound heard in Roger Miller recorded version of this song. Remember, the snaps happen on the 2 and 4 counts! Not the 1 and 3.

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100bpm (slower speed) (download):

116bpm (full speed) (download):

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages

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Lesson Discussion

Jump in the conversation with other members of the Song Notes community! Post a comment about this lesson, ask a question, or even upload a video of your progress. All skill levels welcome!

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About Roger Miller’s Tuning and Key

Roger Miller starts the song using chord shapes in the Key of B, before changing to chords in Key of C for the second half. He uses barre chords for the Key of B section, then switches to open position for the Key of C section. He is also tuned down 1/2 step, meaning to the ear he’s in the Key of B-flat (1st half) and then in the Key of B (2nd half). You can play it like this, though it’s not beginner-friendly!

To play along with Miller’s version, the easiest way is to use a capo 3rd fret and use chord shapes in the Key of G (just like I teach in my video). Then, for the second half of the song, move your capo up to the 4th fret (and continue using chord shapes in the Key of G).

Roger Miller’s Recorded Version

Here’s a video featuring Roger Miller’s original recording of this song. If you’re curious, this video is from a live performance that has its audio removed, and is synced with his studio recording.

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