Ukulele Songs for Beginners: Learn to Play ‘House of the Rising Sun’

By Mustafa Kamaliddin

In this Songs For Beginners tutorial you’ll learn a simplified ukulele arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun” as well as a few concepts related to fingerstyle ukulele playing in general.

Check out more from our Fingerstyle Songs For Beginners series here

Though it feels like it’s been around forever, the song still rocks and it’s surprisingly easy and fun to play and sing. By the time the British Invasion band the Animals released their take on “House of the Rising Sun” in 1964 (you can hear it on The Complete Animals) it had been around for a long, long time; originally it was sung from a woman’s point of view. It makes a whole lot more sense that way, since the “Rising Sun” referred to in the song was essentially a brothel, something New Orleans had in great abundance until the Storyville red-light district was shut down in 1917.

This lesson uses four basic chord shapes: Am, F, Dm, and E7. If you’re already familiar with these, you’ll have a head start in this lesson.


This lesson also covers ascending and descending arpeggios on ukulele and how to play them. You’ll also learn about adding notes in the melody that aren’t in the chords (chord-melody playing). Finally, you will learn a few tricks to sustain two notes at the same time and not sound choppy, which will improve your legato technique.

This arrangement is great for beginners who’ve already learned 1-3 fingerstyle songs and/or who can strum the chord shapes without difficulty. With consistent practice, it should take approximately 2-3 weeks to master this piece.

House of the Rising Sun beginner fingerstyle ukulele lesson music notation

Mustafa Kamaliddin is a ukulele and guitar teacher specializing in fingerstyle playing. You can see more of his videos in his Ukulele Fingerstyle Basics Course and on his YouTube channel.