Learn Horse With No Name on Guitar
This blog post is a tutorial on how to play Horse With No Name by America on guitar.
Horse With No Name Gets a 1/10 Difficulty Rating
Horse With No Name is given a 1/10 song rating because it is requires only two chords and one strumming pattern. This means that the song is super appropriate for many (but not all) beginners to learn.
Though Horse With No Name is roughly based in the key center of E Minor, we could say that the entire song uses the chord system G-Emin-C-D, believe it or not. It sounds best if you play it on acoustic guitar, and this tutorial is a transcription that will teach you a note-for-note version of the guitar part.
What skills are required?
- You can play two or three chords.
- You are lightly familiar with guitar strumming patterns.
What are the benefits to learning Horse With No Name on guitar?
Practicing this song will help you become more familiar with both the E Minor chord as well as swing 8th guitar strumming patterns. The E Minor chord is one of seven incredibly popular guitar chords used extensively in pop music. Additionally, you'll see many guitar strumming patterns that use the swing 8th feel in country, honky-tonk, rockabilly, and also in many pop guitar songs.
Recommended: Download the song
There are a few versions of this song you can find online, but this tutorial is based off of the recorded version. I strongly recommend downloading a MP3 copy of this song for yourself.*
Getting familiar with the song
I'm constantly surprised how much easier it is to learn a song if I am super familiar with it first. I've also seen students learn faster just because they love the song they are learning. Nothing beats being familiar with a song before you attempt to play it on guitar.
My recommendation is to listen to the song a couple of times before you jump into the guitar techniques. This one step alone with help you learn this song fast.
If you're already familiar with Horse With No Name, and how couldn't you be considering the airplay it gets (!), let's jump in.
It's time to hit the guitar part
Guitar part overview
Horse With No Name has only one main chord progression. This main chord progression is repeated throughout the entire song and it never changes.
The main chord progression has two chords, and these chords also never change throughout the song.
If you learn these two chords, learn the strumming pattern, and can keep the strumming going while you change the chords, Horse With No Name is yours. Pretty easy going so far, right?
There are two chords in the main chord progression for this song. The first chord is E minor:
The second chord is D/F# (add9, add13). Before I show you how to play this chord, know that it really doesn't matter one hoot whether you know the music theory behind this chord or not. I'm pretty sure that if you're just starting guitar, you will ruin your momentum if you focus on learning music theory rather than playing guitar. Instead, my suggestion is to ignore music theory until you know at least 30 songs.
Anyway, here is the D/F# (add9, add13):
I'm going to show you how to do this strumming pattern with full awareness that some of you will be confused about how to make it sound exactly like I do. If this truly bothers you, you'll have to check out the module. It will show you how to do both the mutes and the feel of the tempo.
That said, here's the strumming pattern without the mutes, using just the E minor chord. By the way, it sounds awesome without the mutes, in my opinion.
Here's the strumming pattern with the mutes, like America does on the record, again just using the E minor chord:
The chord progression is simple once you get used to the movements of the chords and the feeling of playing the strumming pattern. Make it sound just like this:
"I hear pauses in between chords."
One of the hardest things you might run into as a beginner is making the chords and the strumming flow together. This takes time, but keep your spirits high. There's a way around it!
Let go and force the strumming to be more important than the chords and everything will turn out okay. Make the strumming your priority, even if the chords sound a little muffled or muted. It will feel awkward at first, but in the end it will sound better.
"Wait, my strumming pattern sounds different than yours. What gives?"
You might be playing the strumming pattern in a straight 8th's feel as opposed to a swing 8ths feel. Roughly, the swing 8ths feel is kind of bouncy, while the straight 8ths feel has a walking pace to it. Listen closely to the differences between Love Me Do by the Beatles and Dead Flowers by The Rolling Stones. Do you hear how bouncy Love Me Do is? That's a swing 8ths feel. Dead Flowers has a more walking-pace to it. That's a straight 8ths feel.
If you're interested in exploring the differences between these two ways to play a guitar strumming pattern, I suggest checking out the paid module for this song.
"How do I do mute strums?"
Mute strums happen when your guitar pick and the knife edge of your hand come down on the strings at the same exact time. If you need a little extra help with mute strums, my suggestion is to check out the paid module where I explain mute strums in detail.
"I'm unable to hear the guitar part on the record!"
Turn the volume of the recorded song up slightly louder than your guitar, and use headphones. The crappiest pair of headphones will be far superior than most consumer grade laptop speakers or small stereo systems.
"How do I know when it's time to move onto a new song?"
When you can play along with the recorded version of this song from start to finish and do it without worrying about whether you are playing it correctly, you are ready for a new song.
Still having trouble? Want to nail the swing feel strumming pattern? Want to learn the guitar solo?
If you're still having trouble, chances are that you need a little help with the details.
The America Horse With No Name module is a paid course to help you nail the song. It comes with a number of downloads, tons of bonus material, and it will help you learn Horse With No Name inside and out.
What This Module Will Teach You
- Learn and master each chord, strumming pattern, and chord progression in a brick-by-brick and note-by-note fashion.
- Learn and master the swing 8ths strumming pattern.
- Learn and master the mute-strum.
- How to practice the song by learning highly effective practice workflows. Using these workflows will help you learn the song faster.
- An extensive troubleshooting section that will cover frequently asked questions that most beginners have when they attempt to learn this song.
- Two more rhythm guitar parts, one for the verse and one for the solo.
- Bonus Module: Master the Guitar Solo in Horse With No Name. This guitar solo is guesstimated to be a 5/10 difficulty, inappropriate for beginners and many intermediates, but fun for more advanced intermediate players. You could buy this module and have a guitar solo waiting for you when you're ready for it. The guitar solo, by the way, looks like this: