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How to play "Man of Constant Sorrow" on the guitar,

from the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou".


Click Here to get a copy of the lyrics.

This section is intended to help with the understanding of technique, rather than to teach the entire song.  If you learn the first part, it requires little effort to complete the song.

This song is played in the key of "F".   No one like to play in "F" especially, Bluegrass, and on thick strings.  The "F" chord, on the guitar, ties up all of the fingers that normally could be used to pick out notes.   Here is the trick!  Put your capo on the first fret and play in the "E" position.  You will be making an "F" sound, but the finger positions work much better.  The chord positions that go with the "E" positions are "A" and "B", which will be a bar chord.  Bar chords are typically not used in Bluegrass, but in this case, the style is a little different from the standard bluegrass.  This song was sung by Dan Tyminski that sings and plays the guitar for Alison Kraus and Union Station.  For all of their music and ability, I am truly thankful.  

These chords are positions, not accrual chords.  The capo changes the name.  Example: the "E" played with a capo is really a "F", but that is too hard to keep up with.  It is easier to say, put the capo on the first fret and play in "E".

Tune with me!

Now place the capo on the first fret.

Notice, on the top string, third fret, there is a circle that says, bend when needed; There are times when you will fret it, bend it and pick the string open, like thisThe two marked, release when needed, means that the notes will be played open at times, like this.  Then add the beat and and don't be afraid to release the entire chord if needed, like this or maybe close. 

From here, the rest is about the same.  Good luck!

Warren Yates

(In constant sorrow all through his days)

"E" I am a man of constant "A" sorrow

I've seen "B" trouble all my days "E"

Other pages of mine that you might find helpful.

Finger picking the guitar

Learn to play the banjo

Play Bluegrass guitar

Build and play the washtub bass

Play bass fiddle

Play Bluegrass mandolin

Play Bluegrass fiddle


Music Tools

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Use these prints to make notes on your music.

Full Guitar Neck

Guitar Neck Ends

Piano 88 Keys

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Banjo Neck

Fiddle Neck

Mandolin Neck

Bass Guitar / bass fiddle


View previous lessons HERE!  

                                                                      Finger Picking The Guitar

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How to play "Man of Constant Sorrow" on the guitar,

from the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou".

(c) Copyright 2001