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Layla Guitar Lesson – Derek and the Dominos – Eric Clapton

FavoriteLoadingBookmark this Lesson. Today's lesson comes from a relatively obscure guitarist named Eric Clapton from when he was in a band called Derek and the Dominos.

Even though you have probably never heard of him, I think his signature riff that opens his song Layla is one that every guitarist must know. 😀

All joking aside, the intro to Layla by the imitable Eric Clapton provides an excellent exercise in legato, quick chord shifts, bending and vibrato.

You really have to work on the proper vibrato and bending technique to make the upper octave melody sing.

But because this is such a great song, working on it should be quite pleasurable to the ear throughout. 🙂

The first Layla guitar lesson video starts with the famous opening riff in the lower octave. There are lots of moving parts to this riff so be sure to follow along with the video closely to see how to accurately play all of them.

After that we move to the upper octave riff section that is instantly recognizable and I personally never get tired of playing it.

Pay close attention to the timing of the hammer-ons and pull-offs since doing those too fast can throw off the rhythm. Then of course there is the responsibility of keeping all the bends in tune while still applying a nice vibrato to the notes.

All in all there are a few parts of this Layla guitar lesson that will challenge most players. But that is a good thing right? We are all here to get better and what better way than playing what is one of the greatest guitar based songs of all time. 🙂

In the second video lesson I will show you how to play all of the chords in the verse. This section can be quite tricky as well since Clapton is embellishing a lot of the chords with Hendrix style hammer-ons and pull-offs. You will probably want to experiment with using your thumb to finger the notes on the lowest string (like Clapton and Hendrix) in order to be able to cleanly play those embellishments.

Also in the second video lesson I will show you the lead guitar parts that Duane Allman is playing over those verse chords. There are some challenging bends going on here so take your time with it. After learning the solo that is played over the first verse I will show you how to do your own thing during the second and third verses instead of showing those solos note-for-note as well. The reason I did this was simple, they are all almost played completely the same.

Each of those verse solos start exactly the same and the only variation happens in the second half of each. All of those variations as created with the same four notes played around with in an improvised fashion, so you should do the same as well.

So I hope you enjoy learning all the signature licks found in this guitar masterpiece!


If these free lessons help you, please donate to keep new ones coming daily. Thanks!! 🙂


Layla Guitar Lesson - Part One

Layla Guitar Lesson - Part Two


  1. Edward Wojcik on May 20, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Carl- great lesson but this is not all Clapton. When Clapton first presented this song it was a slow ballad ( much like the acoustic version in 1992 ). Duane Allman came up with this riff to super charge it and turn it into a rocker!

  2. David Harrower on May 25, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Great lesson Carl, can you please do the rhythm part and solo.

  3. Pooyan Samimi on December 27, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Great ! please do the rest of the song ! thank you.

  4. samuel ward on April 9, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Edward Wojcik is right! it was also Duane Allman who came up with the signature lick at the beginning of the song. Which brings me to ask you if you would consider learning “You Don’t Love Me” off the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore Album or these days disc? I think you would really enjoy it yourself for it is a very challenging song by one of the greatest guitarist who ever played who like Hendrix was cut short! Rolling Stone magazine rated him the second greatest guitar player ever just below Hendrix!

    • Carl Brown on April 9, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Well I am usually up for a challenge. 🙂 I will definitely check out that song!

  5. Billy Green on April 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Great lesson, thanks Carl!!! you are a fantastic player and I am grateful to have found this site.

  6. zadomspremni nizich on May 8, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Hey Carl , love your lessons and I will be dropping some cash on you soon, I’m strapped now but you’ve helped me tons and I believe i owe you . Thanks

  7. John Burke on December 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Carl, Eric Clapton does a solo midway in the song that you have not featured can you do that please? Thanks

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