Yellow Ledbetter Guitar Lesson – Pearl Jam

In this video guitar lesson we will take a look at the beautiful Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar parts of "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam.

This style of using basic triad chord shapes with melodic embellishments was made famous by Hendrix and has been used to various degrees of effectiveness by countless guitarists since.

The intro to "Yellow Ledbetter" is certainly one of the better examples of how to use this stye of playing to create beautifully melodic guitar parts.

In this Yellow Ledbetter guitar lesson video I will show you how to play the entire intro note-for-note. Keep in mind also that these chords are the same for the verse as well. The only thing he will do is make little melodic alterations here or there.

Technically probably the only thing guitarists may have an issue with is the fact that you need to use your fret-hand thumb to hold the bass notes of the chords on the 6th string. That is how Hendrix did it and for good reason. Using your thumb on those notes frees up the other fingers to perform those melodic embellishments I mentioned earlier. It is pretty much essential for you to play them this way if you want the riff to sound correct.

If you have never used your thumb like this before I suggest starting to learn. Take a quick look at how your hand is positioned while holding the neck. A quick way of enabling your thumb to play the notes on the 6th string more easily is to simply look at your hand in playing position. You should see the underside of your wrist facing you. Now simply bend your wrist upward towards your face.

This position will allow the thumb easier access to the 6th string as well as help with the first finger bar.

The entire first video will show you note-for-note how to play this intro which is almost identical to the outro as well.

In the second video lesson I will show you some ways of doing your own embellishments of the chords just like it is done throughout the song. I will also demonstrate how to play the short interlude section before the outro.

However, the main focus of the second lesson video is to teach you how to play the guitar solo for "Yellow Ledbetter" note-for-note. It has a lot of tasty and melodic licks so I definitely suggest spending a little bit of time to learn it.

Well that is about it for me today! Have fun and don't hurt those thumbs! 🙂


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Yellow Ledbetter Guitar Lesson - Part 1

Yellow Ledbetter Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Solo


  1. Greg on November 7, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for this awesome lesson! Is there any way you could show us the rest of this great song (yellow ledbetter). thank you!

  2. frank paparo on April 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    On these chords, is there any trick to them? I am sailing through the lead, but the rythem my fingers are muting the strings, I don’t have piano fingers, is there anything a person with thicker fingers can do to play these “Hendrix ” chords??

    • Carl Brown on April 26, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Hey Frank, I would have to see video or something of you trying to play those chords in order to give any advice. If you make one I would be happy to look at it! 🙂

  3. Don Boyd on February 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

    It’s much much easier.To use a traditional Barre on the chords at least for me all i got out of useing my thum was dead notes and hand cramps lol..Useing your index sounds exactly the same and much easier…

    • Carl Brown on February 19, 2017 at 9:17 am

      That is true Don, but using your index finger prevents you from doing any of the chord embellishments, which is why Hendrix and all those inspired by him play the chords that way.

  4. JSeavall on April 4, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    awesome lesson as usual carl. i finally decided i needed to join GL365. glad i did!

  5. gd4 on January 8, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    HI Carl, Any tips for guitarists with smaller hands and cannot physically thumb the E string while making the rest of the chord? I can make it when the low E string is one or two frets higher than the chord, but not when the low E string is at the same fret as the high E and G strings. Thx

    • Carl Brown on January 9, 2019 at 9:00 am

      Try bending your wrist inwards towards your face. That helps to bring the thumb over easier.

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