Website Logo

Cannonball Rag Guitar Lesson

Merle Travis

SONG DETAILS

DIFFICULTY:

5

TUNING:

Standard

TEMPO:

150 BPM

KEY:

G major

This is the full guitar lesson for how to play Cannonball Rag. Cannonball Rag was originally written by Kennedy Jones but when Merle Travis recorded the song in the 1940s he received all the credit for it. Life can be so cruel!

This is a very popular song amongst fingerpickers and I personally can’t think of a better song to practise regularly for developing good technique, picking strength, dexterity and speed.

When at full speed it’s no doubt very hard to play but, like most things, when slowed down it’s not too difficult at all. This is why it’s such a good tune for working on techniques and why I encourage players of intermediate level and above to start working on it.

Alright, let’s start learning how to play Cannonball Rag!

Learn To Play Cannonball Rag

Cannonball Rag (Performance)

As you learn to play Cannonball Rag, be sure to frequently return to the performance as a good reference point and guide.

GET THE TAB!

Get 25% off tabs, try the courses for free and get exclusive lessons when you join the mailing list.

Join The Mailing List
Get the Tabs

Cannonball Rag Guitar Lesson - Lesson 1

We’re going to be looking more at Tommy Emmanuel’s version of Cannonball Rag as opposed to Merle Travis’. However, I have to say that I’ve never seen two people play this song the same way, so feel free to add your own spin on it if you desire. Most covers are a blend of Merle, Atkins and Emmanuel.

Cannonball Rag - Lesson 2

Hopefully you were OK learning the first part of the song, now we’re going to look at the second section.

40% OFF - The Ultimate Bundle

Want to be a truly great player? Get HUNDREDS of fingerstyle video lessons for an incredible 40% OFF! Take advantage of this brilliant offer and learn absolutely everything you need to know about fingerpicking.

Lesson 3

Tommy Emmanuel puts in a blisteringly fast, but very cool, chromatic lick coming out of the B section. If you’ve not tried alternate picking using a thumb pick before this will be very awkward at first – believe me!

Lesson 4

This section is a huge amount of fun to play and it’s actually one of the easier parts of Cannonball Rag.

Master the skills you never thought you could!

Break through the intermediate barrier and become the advanced fingerpicker that you always wanted to be with the COMPLETE GUIDE TO FINGERSTYLE GUITAR: ADVANCED LEVEL.

Lesson 5

In this section we have a fast moving bass line to execute. It may seem relatively simple at first but when played up to speed it’s actually pretty tough to get right.

Lesson 6

You’ve made it all the way to the outro! That’s very impressive. The vast majority of your hard work is done now, there’s really just one more chromatic lick to learn.

We Recommend These Songs Next