Six String Fingerpicking Courses and Lessons

Don’t Fear The Reaper (Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson)

Blue Öyster Cult







140 BPM


A minor

Don’t Fear The Reaper was recorded in 1976 by American rock band Blue Öyster Cult and appears on their album Agents of Fortune. The song was written and sung by lead guitarist Donald Roeser.

As we know, Don’t Fear The Reaper isn’t a fingerstyle song, it’s far from it. But having said that, there’s no reason why we can’t turn it into a fingerstyle arrangement and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.

I’ve always loved the concept/challenge of trying to play two parts at the same time on the guitar. My goal here was to combine the classic riff with the melody and get the two to merge together seamlessly. The way it’s achieved is by practising both parts in isolation and then joining the two together, just like a puzzle. It can be incredibly hard to do but the payout is very often well worth it.

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The Lesson (Part 1)

The riff remains unaltered throughout and you need to add in the vocal-line without getting in the way.

The Lesson (Part 2)

Moving into the second half of the verse/chorus now and I’ve employed a right hand strumming technique whilst simultaneously picking out the melody. This can be very difficult to do if you’ve not done it before.

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Second Verse

The 2nd verse is very similar to the first, just with a few alterations.

Bridge (Part 1)

Watch out for the first half of the bridge because it’s harder than it seems. It’s the repetitive picking pattern that makes knowing exactly when to change chord hard, and on top of that the bar of 5/4 time in bar eight makes things really quite challenging.

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Bridge (Part 2)

The second half of the bridge I’ve left reasonable straightforward. Please remember that this is just my interpretation of the song, and in all honesty I’d much rather you came up with your own thing and just used this as a rough guide.

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