Toggle Menu

Misty - A fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Advanced

Misty - The Lesson explained


I uplo‚Äčaded a version ‚Äčof this old classic to YouTube back in 2005. I didn't turn it into a lesson then, but someone watched it the other day and left this message: Please TAB!!! Something about those three exclamation marks prompted me to have another look at it and turn it into a proper lesson.

This was written by jazz great Erroll Garner in 1954. He was a pianist and if you want to watch someone who is in absolute, complete and total control of his instrument, check him out. He's in his own league.

Many associate Misty with the dark and terrifying 1971 movie 'Play Misty For Me' with Clint Eastwood. He plays the DJ at a California radio station, Jessica Walter plays the psychopath who keeps calling him up asking "Play Misty for me". I won't ruin it by giving away the plot but if you want a good scare, look it up.

I'm still in Dropped D so lower that bass string a whole tone. This is quite a challenging piece and I'm not sure why. I had to fiddle around with it for a couple of weeks and I tried many different feels for it. I then spent a quite a while recording/videoing it and finally decided this take had a certain vibe that was worth keeping. You'll hear that I vacillate between a slow swing feel and a straight eights feel, something that made it very difficult to transcribe into Guitar Pro. It's also completely different feel-wise to the other version I did years ago, even though the basic arrangement is pretty much the same. When you do get the fingerings and positions down, you should experiment with your own feels, tempo and dynamics.

I won't go into all the theory behind the progression or the chord names, which I hope I named properly. There are some standard changes in the verse sections; it's the middle section that's fairly unusual. It's the beautiful melody line that made this piece the classic it has become. Once you hear it, you never forget it.

The one good thing about the tune is that the verse section repeats three times, twice with the same turnaround (1st and 3rd time) once with a different turnaround (2nd time) so you only need to learn one verse.

The middle section is usually played up an octave. I experimented with that but it all got very tricky and uncomfortable so I left it down the octave.

There are few stretches, slide-ins and slide-outs, pull-offs and hammer-ons, open strings, three-finger-plucks ... a bit of everything.

I hope you like it!

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.