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Mr Bojangles - A fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

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The video with un-blurred virtual fretboard can be downloaded from a link on the TAB
For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro, a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson and the full video in the usual format with animated fretboard. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!

Mr Bojangles - The Lesson explained


This one sure takes me back. I remember hearing this and learning to perform in during the late 1960s and it was always a favorite. I've been meaning to do a lesson on it for a long time now, so here it is. I played around with different keys and different feels. I kept coming back to this version in G and minus the usual bouncy lilt that is associated with the tune. You can easily put the bounce back into it without changing any of the notes.

As usual, G works best. No climbing up the fretboard required and most of it based around the open chord shapes. Time signature is 3/4 or 6/8, whichever way you want to count it. I added an intro and outro, just a simple run through the main chords.

Chord-wise, it's mainly the related chords from the key of G with a couple of 'majorizations'. For those who like to know, here is the progression in Roman numeral:

Intro/outro: | I - - | V - - | vi - - | V - - | IV - - | I - - | ii I IV | I - - | X 2

Verses: | I - - | V - - | vi - - | V - - | IV - - | - - - | V - - | - - - | X 2

| IV - - | - - - | iii - - | III - - | vi - - | II - - | V - - | - - - | I - - | V - - |

Chorus: | vi - -| - - - | iii - - | - - - | vi - - | - - - | iii - - | - - - | vi - - | - - - | V - - | - - - |

Remembering that lower case means minor and upper case means major, you can see that there are two case of the usual minors being 'majorized'. I've shown them in red above. They are the II chord (A) and the III chord (B). I point these out because it's important to hear these deviations from the usual diatonic chords. When you really listen, and I mean really listen, you are training your ear to hear the quality of chords, the flavor. There's a good ear trainer in this tune and that's where the iii becomes a III, in other words where B7 immediately follows the Bm7 (bars 35-36 and 63-64). You can hear the minor becoming major. It's not easy to actually see it on the fretboard, but the difference between the two is just a shift of one half step of just one note in the two chords. A tiny adjustment; a huge difference in the sound of the chord. After a while of really listening, you will start to know exactly what is happening without anyone telling you or reading the chord names ... you will just know.

Back to the tune:

There's nothing too tricky it. I usually find one or two speed bumps when I arrange these tunes -- places where I need to really work things out and practice them up -- but not so in this tune. If you know the key of G, which I'm sure you do by now if you follow my lessons, this one should roll off the fingertips with few problems.

You'll see that I don't play the repeat verse exactly the same as the first. Pick whichever version you like best or learn both or, even better, come up with your own way of doing it.

See you next time!

For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro, a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson and the full video in the usual format with animated fretboard. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!