All Along The Watchtower (Rhythm)

Animated All Along The Watchtower (Rhythm) tab by Jimi Hendrix on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This fantastic song is full of Hendrix magic. Originally the song was written by Bob Dylan, and has been covered by many artists, but Jimi Hendrix's version is in a class of its own. In this ActionTab we'll look at the rhythm (acoustic) guitar part. This is the backing guitar for the song and a wise place to start before launching into the lead (which we'll show in the next ActionTab).

Important: the song is played a half-step lower than standard tuning. So tune each string down by 1 note to get Low Eb - Ab - Db - Gb - Bb - Eb. Use the ActionTab tuner to help you retune.

Before looking at the chords, an important word about playing with the thumb. Hendrix had a very distinctive style (and big hands). He would often use his thumb to fret barre chords on the low strings (rather than the 1st finger). However, we show it here without using the thumb to fret or mute notes (i.e. we show fingers only on the fretboard). Most people will find this more familiar and easier. In fact, most people will play the song as we show it here, with the possible addition of thumb-muting.

Fretting 3 or more strings with your thumb like Hendrix did is not so easy for people with smaller hands (especially on an acoustic guitar), and it isn't necessary to play the song that way anyhow. Fretting with the thumb is tricky and can cause people problems when adjusting hand positions around the neck. Thumb-muting is easier though, and you may wish to do it to mute out the low strings.

By all means, thumb-mute out the low strings, and experiment with thumb-fretting too. But just be aware we've left the thumb out of things in the ActionTab, for the sake of comfort and to save confusion. It's not for everybody.

The song is based around a very simple chord progression in the key of C minor. There are only 3 chords throughout (good news eh?)....The 'big 3' are: C minor - Bb Major - Ab Major. Notice that after the Intro the same 3 chords are played, just in different places (e.g. C minor - Bb Major - Ab Major).


Also, the song structure is not difficult:

Intro - Verse - Solo - Verse - Solo - Verse - Outro

There are variations on how these 3 chords are played each time (this is Hendrix we're talking about). However, you could quite easily just use the first 3 barre chords you see in the intro, and happily strum them throughout the song to get very close to the original. In fact if you do that, you don't need to retune your guitar either - just play those barre chords 1 fret lower than you see in this ActionTab.

Of course, we show all the chord details here for you to learn (and you can learn a lot from just 3 chords when a master like Hendrix is strumming). It depends how closely you want to follow his way of playing. It's all here if you want it.

The only time there is a notable divergence in the rhythm guitar is towards the end of the song, where a Cm7 is played instead of Cm. This isn't a massive difference, but worth pointing out.

Have fun!

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