Learn How to Play “Turn, Turn, Turn” on Guitar

Turn! Turn! Turn! is a classic 60’s folk song originally written by noted folk music pioneer Pete Seeger. The lyrics were adapted from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the song’s message really resonated with the public. The actual title is Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season), but most shorten it to the entirely less wordy Turn! Turn! Turn!, and usually just Turn, Turn, Turn.

Most could tell it was a great song and wanted to do their own version. Even before Pete Seeger released his own recording, The Limeliters released a version in 1962. However, it was the version released in 1965 by The Byrds that became an international hit. The song was transformed into a folk/rock anthem propelled by the chimey, Rickenbacker 12-string sound that their guitarist Roger McGuinn became known for and a solid backbeat.

How to Play Turn Turn Turn on Guitar

Turn Turn Turn

  1. Grab the chords and TABs here. If you have Guitar Pro, then you can get that file here.
  2. Listen to The Byrds play it here.
  3. Here is a YouTube Playlist that covers the different sections of the guitar part, including the Intro, Verse, and Chorus. There is even a snippet of Roger McGuinn himself showing you how to play the part.
  4. A bass part video is here and the TAB is here, with a video showing the drum part here.

HINT: Open the TABs/chords in a separate window in your browser from the videos so you can see them both!

The Influence of the Byrds’ Electric 12-String Sound

Byrds 12The effect of both the song and that 12-string sound can be found in numerous bands that followed. Most notably, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cite The Byrds as a major influence and Tom Petty even has his own signature Rickenbacker 12-string. Here Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers talks about getting the band’s first 12-string because they wanted to get that Byrds sound.

While a 12-string electric really helps you nail that Byrds sound, the reality is that the song also sounds great on a 6 string and is a bit easier to play as a result. Also using a chorus pedal with your guitar will give you a little of that 12-string guitar effect. Remember to use a clean sound on your guitar amplifier and keeps things a bit on the treble side with your tone settings. As you probably saw in the video above, Roger McGuinn plays with a combination of flatpick and metal banjo picks for fingerpicking. You don’t need to use metal fingerpicks, but if you want to master the solo would be good to try and learn more advanced fingerpicking technique, such as the banjo rolls that he uses. But if not, just play the main melodic notes in the solo and it will sound great!

Learn How to Play More Great Guitar Songs

eMedia Masters of Rock GuitareMedia Masters of Rock Guitar teaches you note-for-note versions of classic guitar songs like All Along the Watchtower, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and others. eMedia’s Animated Fretboard helps you to see the guitar techniques involved in playing the songs and interactive Performance Evaluation listens as you play a song and shows if any incorrect notes were played. Or if you want to learn how to play blues guitar, eMedia Masters of Blues Guitar teaches you note-for-note versions of those great blues songs that show up at countless jam sessions.  

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