“China Grove” by The Doobie Brothers

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Difficulty: Easy

Composer – Johnston

Where to find this song – The Captain and Me track # 3

Release Date – March 1973

The Doobie Brothers were known as one of the most popular California pop/rock bands of the ’70s. They evolved from a mellow, post-hippie group, to a slick, soul-bound pop band by the end of the decade. Their band name created quite a bit of controversy, but they always shrugged off drug-related comments, with a bit of a laugh in between……

The main riff

It would be wise to use all downstrokes while picking this riff. If you use alternate down, upstrokes your timing may become confused. If it’s hard to play in its entirety for you, then try playing only the chords and not the muted strings in between. Once you get the hand of that, you can add the muted strings.

Here’s what it sounds like looped at the normal tempo of 138 bpm:

Begin the first measure of this lesson by placing your 1st finger on the “A” string on the seventh fret. Allow the “low E” string to remain open. Place your 4th finger on the ninth frets of the “D” string, the “G” string, and the “B” string. Play that twice, and then perform a few mutes to finish the measure.

The second measure and the fourth measure are basically identical to the first measure. Play accordingly, and at the end of the fourth measure use any fingers to play the seventh and ninth frets on the “low E” string.

The third measure isn’t hard at all. All you need to do is place your fingers in the same arrangement that you did for the first measure, but this time on the fifth and seventh frets instead of the seventh and ninth frets. Play that once, and don’t forget the mutes if you are able to time them well. Next, just move your fingers in the same arrangement to the second and fourth frets on the same strings, but instead, invert your fingers so that your 4th finger is on the fourth fret and your 1st finger is covering the second frets on the rest of the strings being played. Play that, and mute, and then play that again, taking your 4th finger off of the “A” string. End the measure by muting the strings once again.

Riff Resources

Complete Transcription To “China Grove” (PDF)

Complete Transcription To “China Grove” (Power Tab)