Old Man Guitar Lesson – Neil Young – Acoustic

In this song lesson I will demonstrate how to play "Old Man" by Neil Young. Released on his 1972 album Harvest, Old Man quickly became one of Neil Young's most beloved songs and it remains that way today.

In this Old Man guitar lesson video I will teach you the entire song note-for-note. I would put it at around an intermediate level.

The most difficult things about learning this great acoustic song are getting the right rhythm down and mastering all of the hammer-ons that are being played within the chords for part of the song.

I start the lesson off teaching the rhythm pattern that you will be using for most of the song and I think you should really master that before adding all the chord changes. After you have the rhythm down correctly all of those chords and hammer-ons will just seem to lock into a groove and everything will flow along quite nicely.

For the hammer-ons you will need to concentrate on making clean and quick movements down onto the string. Accenting that string with the pick will also help the hammer-ons be heard over the rest of the chord. The main hammer-on section uses the verse chords in an instrumental format and it is probably the hardest part of the song to master. Just take your time with it and the rest of the song will just seem easy. 🙂

I think you will find when going through this lesson that Neil Young is a great rhythm guitarist. I know a lot of players simply ignore how essential rhythm is to music and are only interested in guitar acrobatics. But, with this song you will find a truly great rhythm guitarist at work within one of the greatest acoustic guitar songs of it's era. Enjoy!


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

Donate to GuitarLessons365
Other Amount:

Old Man Guitar Lesson - Neil Young


  1. David Lindblom on April 16, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Great Lesson! I was wondering if you could do a lesson of the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic “Helplessly Hoping” from their debut album?


    Kind regards, David L

    • Chris Rose on August 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Yes, please do that one!

  2. dennis berry on May 28, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for not giving a music lesson while teaching the song. Trying to learn the tune and chord progression is hard to do when my train of thought keeps getting de railed; by a bunch of’ pentanomic explination “B.S,”
    your lessions are more friendly, as if a buddy came over to jam a new tune that he had to show us how to play first. Then we coul jam and have fun. Scales and pentanomics are great I agree, but, when people keep throwing aligators at ya, its hard to drain the swamp. ONE THING AT A TIME. You are good at that, Its why I joined your LESSONS,

  3. Bob Olsen on February 10, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Carl,
    Your lessons and web site really are second to none. I enjoy your style of teaching.
    I understand that copyright laws prevent you from posting a lot of song tabs. But, is it possible for you to do tabs for me for a donation? I like “You Don’t Fool Me”, “Pack It Up and Go”, “One More For the Rodeo” and/or “Hot and Ready” on UFO’s Obsession album. I expect a fairly hefty donation will be in order but, it’s a present for my Brother.
    Thanks for your consideration and God Bless.
    Bob Olsen

    • Carl Brown on February 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Hey Bob, I wish I could and very much appreciate the offer.

      Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time in my day to sit down and TAB a bunch of stuff out. I hope you will understand. 🙂


  4. Rick Haverland on April 12, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Carl,

    I sincerely believe that if you were to create a song lesson for Neil Young’s rocker “Powderfinger” (with solo), it will become one of your most popular song lessons…beginning with me..

    Thank you, Rick Haverland

  5. ROBERT BENNETT on March 20, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Hello Carl,

    Thank you for all the song teachings you share. Having superb patience to give crucial repetition on every phrase as reinforcement for learning the riffs and chord progression is most appreciated.

    On Old Man, I notice there is what sounds like a banjo picking a riff before the chorus and also an electric guitar in the background during the middle of the song sliding up (I think one of the riffs is sliding up to 2 – 10 then picking 1 – 10). There are also some small riffs / high notes being played throughout the second verse. It seems to give an added country sound / flavor to the song.

    I would like to be able to play these “fill-in” riffs and ask if you could at some point provide a separate video on how to play them with comment on what effects pedals would be used to achieve the background guitar sounds.

    As a personal song request, I’ve always liked Johnny Winter’s live solo rendition of Mean Town Blues on his Johnny Winter And’s Live album with Rick Derringer mimicking the lead riffs before the solo ends (principally the lead solo after the drums intro). Hopefully you’ll have an opportunity to create a video lesson on this lead solo classic along with the mimicked riffs and basic chord progression.

    Best regards,


  6. Kevin Trager on April 23, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Carl,
    Great song, could you possibly do “Down by the river”. Simple enough but I’d like to see your version and the lead. Great song to jam with. Thanks

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.