Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley is a great song to learn for both beginner and experienced guitar players. It’s fairly easy to play and it’s very recognizable. We’ll use just 3 chords and I’ll show you an easy way and a more advanced way to play it. After that I’ll show you a strumming pattern and we’ll put it all together.The first chord we’ll use is a Folk style C chord.
Try not to play the low E string. The E note is in the chord, but most of the time you want the root note to be the lowest note in the chord. The 5th string 3rd fret is our root (C).
The second chord is the F chord.
I’m going to play his version. If you’re just starting out this is a good version to use. It sounds full, especially in the context of the song.
You’ll want to make sure you don’t play the high or low E strings. I use my ring finger to mute the low E string, and my index finger to mute the high E string. You have to “roll” or angle your respective fingers just slightly to mute them.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can barre the first two strings on the 1st fret like this.
And of course, if you know the full F barre chord you can use that too. These modified versions are great because it’s really easy to change between it and the C chord. From the C chord you simply move your middle finger up one string, and put your pinky on the 4th string 3rd fret.
The last chord is the G chord.
I’m going to use this version since it’s easier to change to the C chord. It uses your pinky, so if that’s too hard for you to play you can use a ring finger version instead.
You can also use a 4 finger G chord.
How To Play Teddy Bear By Elvis Presley
Teddy Bear has a pretty standard song form. But it’s in a 12 bar (or measure) pattern. The 12 bar format comes from the 12 Bar Blues. Even though you might not think this sounds like a Blues song, it’s at least inspired by the structure. This was very common back in the 50s and 60s in Rock N Roll.
The song will be 4 bars of C, 3 bars of F, and 1 more bar of C. That’s 8 bars. The last 4 bars will be 2 bars of G and 2 bars of C. It looks like this (each chord is a bar):
Let’s run through it. We’ll strum each chord once per beat, that’s 4 strums per bar/measure.
(go to 4:27 in the video to hear this)
Playing The Chorus
The chorus is mostly a back and forth between the F and G chords:
C-C (back to verse)
Practice this the same way as the verse, with four strums per bar. Once you’re good with both sections we can add in a strum.
Adding The Strumming Pattern
Check out 6:14 in the video to hear the strum pattern. I’ll show you an easier and a more difficult version.
One note about strums: you don’t have to stick to the strumming pattern I show you. You can experiment and see what sounds best to you.
Putting It All Together
When you have the chord progression and strumming pattern mostly learned, let’s put it all together. Jump to 8:06 to play along. If the more advanced strumming pattern is a little too tricky, just use the standard pattern. You can always work on the more advanced pattern and come back!
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