The Little Drummer Boy Guitar Lesson

In this Little Drummer Boy guitar lesson video, I will show you how to play this much loved Christmas classic on the guitar in an arrangement that is very playable for any upper beginner player and above.

My guitar arrangement of this beautiful song uses a consistent bass note rhythm being played by the thumb at all times. To make it easy, I make sure all the bass notes fall onto one of the three open bass strings on the guitar (E A D).

This will free up your fret hand so it can play the melody and it's harmony pretty easily up and down the fretboard.

As I mention in the video lesson, it is a good idea to first learn how to play the bass note rhythm with the melody notes by just working on the very beginning of the song first. After you have the feel of that down it will be just a process of learning the frethand notes since that rhythm will stay consistent throughout the entire song.

In addition to the rhythm I play in the video lesson and performance, you can also double some of the bass notes like you will hear in the popular recording of The Little Drummer Boy from 1958 by the Harry Simeone Chorale.  By the way, the key of that popular 1958 recording is one half-step lower (Ab major) than this guitar arrangement (A major). It can be as simple as playing one quarter note in the bass, then on the next beat play two 8th notes in the bass. Then just repeat that sequence. Usually if you want to add that rhythm I would wait until at least the second repeat of the song.

I have tried to make this arrangement as playable as possible on the guitar while still remaining in standard tuning. The fingerpicking is about as simple as it gets so hopefully it won't be too much of a challenge to get the entire tune down rather quickly.

So I hope you guys enjoy learning this Christmas classic. It certainly is one of my favorites. 🙂


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The Little Drummer Boy Guitar Lesson


  1. Brian Belsey on December 11, 2015 at 6:21 am

    This may be pointing out the obvious, but Carl’s fingerstyle sound on the Strat is terrific. Very effective arrangement.

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