How to Play The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

"The House of the Rising Sun" is traditional folk ballad that was made incredibly popular with the 1964 version of it recorded by The Animals.

After it's release it quickly shot to the top of the charts in countries all over the world, including going number one in the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Finland, and Canada.

The first thing you will want to practice when learning how to play The House of the Rising Sun is the arpeggiated picking style that is used on all the chords throughout most of the song.

This arpeggiated picking style requires some decent picking control since you have to control the speed of the strum to make it sound like the pick is sort of raking across the strings one by one.

I suggest practicing this picking technique on just one chord (A minor), and then adding all of the other chords after you can effortlessly control the picking.

I think it is easier to think of "The House of the Rising Sun" as consisting of two different parts except for the very end. One is the chord progression used while the vocals are being sung, and the other being the chords that are played in the short instrumental sections between those vocal parts.

I break the lesson up into those two section so it should be pretty easy to follow and memorize the chords quickly.

As the song builds, and especially during the solo section, you will be playing the same chord progression except this time with a full strumming pattern.

To close everything down at the end of the song, we get to a simple repetitive A minor to D minor progression.

All-in-all I think "The House of the Rising Sun" is a great tune for a beginning guitarist to learn or any level of guitarist who simply wants to learn a cool tune. 🙂



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How to Play The House of the Rising Sun


  1. Frank Hanner on January 5, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Great lessons!

  2. Greg Lowe on February 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Great version, I am picking it up quickly. Is the the best place to request a song? I am looking for the song “When I fall” by the Bare Naked Ladies. Preferably how to play this with Arpeggiated picking. Thanks.

    • Carl Brown on February 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Hey Greg, this place is fine to make a request. I checked out “When I Fall” and think it would be a great song to teach. My only issue would be that it isn’t very well known and it might be a lot of work to do a song that not many people are familiar with even if it is great. 🙁

      Any other songs you are interested in learning?


  3. Greg Lowe on February 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I am a beginner of two weeks. I have been working mostly on House of the rising sun and Nutshell both acoustic. This is because the songs are good for a beginner, I can sing along, and songs I like keep me motivated to continually practice. I could make you a list of about 20 songs I have come up with so far that I want to start with. Let me get back to you on a choice I want to really work on before you put in the time and effort.
    Here is a short list of some of the songs I am considering. (I haven’t verified them against your current list yet.) 1. Where is my mind (pixies), 2. Creep (Radiohead), 3. Wild Horses (Stones), 4. Wagon Wheel (Old Crow), 5. A day in the life (Beatles), 6. Good ol Boys (Dukes of Hazzard), 7. If you could read my mind (Lightfoot), 8. Patience (GNR). That gives you a pretty good idea. Not sure on the difficulty level on them. Thanks. Ill let you know if I think of something specific.


  4. Diesel Trowbridge on July 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Carl, I got a great song request called The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens.

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