How to Play Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash

Hey guys! Today I wanted to give away a little piece of what I do so effectively with students: break. things. dowwwwn.

Breaking it all down strum for strum, chord for chord, is a great way to get a visual advantage on playing a song and it works like a charm.  This is a great example.  It’s simple, repetitive, and fun to play.  Enjoy!


Now, if you’re a beginner you’re thinking, “Crud, transitioning from E to A may not be so bad, but that E to B7 is a pain!”  Yes, yes it is a bit.  But break it down and just play E to B7 back and forth for a while.  Forget the strum pattern and just focus on getting those two down solid.  Then just follow the arrows and you’re on your way to some good ol’ fashioned prison music!

If you are a novice player, you will be noticing that it is using a unique 11 bar blues style format.  Yes, this IS correct.  Odd.. but correct.  Play along to the song to see for yourself!  And be careful not to get lost from the last E line to the first.  Keep that count going in your head.

If you’re advanced, you’re probably like… “I’m bored.”  If so, work on your improvisation skillz on this fancy back track.  Figure out the key for yourself. 😉

Thanks for reading and have fun!



Leave a Reply