Guitar Chords – Jolene by Dolly Parton

guitar chords jolene

A chord is any collection of notes that work harmoniously together, typically following a specific scale, while each type of chord evokes different emotional responses in music.

Understanding chord progressions can help you learn songs faster and more efficiently, like Dolly Parton’s hit Jolene by looking at its chords. In this lesson we’ll take a look at Dolly Parton’s iconic tune Jolene.

Basic Chords

This lesson presents an easy acoustic guitar arrangement of Dolly Parton’s beloved song Jolene, one of her best-known tunes and one ranked #217 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Written as an AB song form without bridges or interludes for maximum accessibility from players of all skill levels, this video lesson shows how to play its main riff with and without capo fingerstyle, pick or pick and capo; members also receive TAB as well as full chord analysis and strumming guide information!

Intermediate Chords

Once you’ve learned some basic open chords and bar chords, it’s time to increase their complexity. Chords provide more than just shapes to memorize; they’re also an invaluable way of developing intervals across the fretboard.

This lesson will show you how to play advanced block chords on the fretboard, featuring various root notes and inversions. Learning these more advanced chords will enable you to explore various genres more freely while adding depth to your rhythm guitar playing.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, it’s time to explore more advanced chord voicings such as minor sevenths and dominant ninths. These chords will give your songs a richer sound while adding tension and drama. Furthermore, you will learn how to move these chords around the fretboard for greater flexibility when creating more complex songs with various chord progressions.

Advanced Chords

Guitarists must rely on an effective chord resource. Resources such as Hal Leonard’s Picture Chord Encyclopedia or The Guitar Chord Bible can provide beginners with invaluable assistance in learning new shapes. Both also contain diagrams displaying fingerings, chord names and scale patterns in an easy-to-read format.

Once they have mastered major and minor triads, many guitarists progress onto seventh chords. Dominant seventh chords can be constructed systematically by stacking tertian third intervals and can even incorporate quartal and quintal harmony strings for added texture.

Add tension with altered dominant chords like G7b5 or G13#9. These chords add movement while offering plenty of possibilities for transitioning towards melodic seventh chord resolutions.

Another advanced chord, the diminished chord is an alternative voicing of C major chord; however, instead of stacking chord tones in their traditional order (i.e. 3 R 5, this gives it a haunting sound used by bands such as My Bloody Valentine).


Ray LaMontagne’s song Jolene features an unconventional chord sequence and rhythm, yet remains highly enjoyable to play for beginners. Beginning with a G, C and G sequence and remaining on each chord for two measures before shifting onto another one is just an example.

Strumming this pattern regularly will help keep your hand moving and maintain an even rhythm even if some notes slip by or you add an additional strum here and there. If you want to add even more variety and improvisation into your playing experience, fingerpicking could also add new dimensions of exploration and interpretation to your performance.

Our complete lesson for Jolene covers its principal acoustic guitar part note-for-note. Available to members as both video lessons and performance-standard play-thru videos, members also receive guitar tabs and songsheets as part of this offering.