Lean On Me Guitar Lesson – Bill Withers

In this video guitar lesson I am going to show you a nice guitar arrangement of the original piano version of "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers.

Originally released in 1972, "Lean On Me" went on to become a number one hit and be covered by many artists, some of which made it number one of the charts with their version as well.

In this Lean On Me guitar lesson, I am going to try to stay as close to the original piano harmony as possible. Usually any guitar versions of "Lean On Me" you may find will simplify the piano chords to a sort of stripped down version for guitar. I think one of the best things about the original piano version is the chord work. I didn't want to lose that in my guitar arrangement so you may find this lesson to be a bit of a challenge. It will be worth it in the end though!

"Lean On Me" starts out with a simple C - Dm - Em - F progression. That may sound simple enough, but the speed at which the Dm - Em chords are played can make it rather difficult to play on the guitar. I try to solve this problem by incorporating closed voiced Dm - Em triads. Getting your hands on these chord forms may be a little awkward to you at first, but once you do that, moving them around is quite easy.

To me, the really high chordal points within "Lean On Me" come at the end of the chord progressions. Each time Bill Withers employs a more dissonant and yet extremely rich harmony to close out the progression. I have tried to retain the essence of those chords as well as possible while still making everything playable on the guitar.

With this guitar version of "Lean On Me", it should sound convincing enough with just one guitar that when you perform it for someone they will instantly know that it is "Lean On Me". My performance of the main chord progression at the beginning of the lesson video should prove that. 🙂

We have a cool little funky section as well that mostly consists of a bass line. This is all easily recreated on the guitar so know worries there. In addition to that, the end of the song fades out with a simple F/C to C progression that is repeated. Those chords are also quite easy to play on the guitar.

For the most part, you will spend most of your time mastering the main chord progression. After you have that nailed it is smooth sailing from there.

Thanks for watching!!


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Lean On Me Guitar Lesson - Bill Withers


  1. neil lacey on February 2, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Chord diagram for Dm and Em please

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