I Shot The Sheriff

Learn How To Play I Shot the Sheriff

Chords and strumming

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I Shot The Sheriff chords and strumming


This one guitar arrangement of I Shot The Sheriff is not only inspired by the original Bob Marley recording, but also by Eric Clapton‘s version.

The verse chord progression is simple and very Aeolian sounding. Using the IVmaj7 and the IIIm7 to constantly point back to chord VI.

As there is a capo on fret three, what you hear is in Gm, but you think in Em as you play the verse: Cmaj7, Bm7 and Em.

The chorus is even more simple, moving just between Em and Am, or the VI and II chord.

The world famous riff at 0:53 following “…and I say” uses the Minor Pentatonic scale.

Playing with a capo

In the key of Em, we get the advantage that every open string is part of Minor Pentatonic scale.

By using a capo we can capitalize on this phenomenon and put I Shot The Sheriff in the key of Em, rather than the more awkward key of Gm.

As the chords are so simple in this key, there is plenty of room to play a bass line and even add some licks as the chords change.


| Em | Em | Am | Am | repeat


| Cmaj7 Bm7 | Em Em/B | repeat

Building a one guitar arrangement

When you build a one guitar arrangement you have to first work out what the most important parts are. To build I Shot The Sheriff I focused on:

  • The bass line
  • The upbeat
  • The riff
  • The open position Em shaped Minor Pentatonic

Make sure the bass line is rhythmically solid and dynamically well pronounced. You can vary it in an improvised way, but you need to use the right notes from the scale.

Decide which out of double or single upbeat strums work best for you. Use the other as a variation.

For me, the riff was difficult to get sounding big at first. I ended up using open strings to fatten the sound. Take the advanced course and get the full story.

Related Pages


I Shot The SheriffI shot the sheriff
But I didn’t shoot no deputy, oh no! Oh!
I shot the sheriff
But I didn’t shoot no deputy, ooh, ooh, oo-ooh

Go to I Shot The Sheriff Lyrics.


bob-marley-thumbBob Marley was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, guitarist, and activist.

Marley is the most widely known performer of reggae music and regarded by many as a prophet of the Rastafarian religion.

Few artists have had such widespread recognition as Bob Marley.

Go to Bob Marley Biography.


eric-clapton-thumbAs well as being in bands like Derek & The Dominos, The Yardbirds and Cream, Clapton has successfully played sessions for more stars than any other guitar player ever lived.

Clapton’s long career has earned him not one, not two but three inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (as a solo artist with Yardbirds and Cream).

Go to Eric Clapton Biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

Go to Advanced Guitar Course.


Learn how to play famous advanced songs.

Angels, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Blackbird, Cannonball, Don’t Wait Too Long, I Shot The Sheriff, Over The Rainbow, Roxanne, Scarborough Fair, Sunshine Of Your Love, Take Me To The River, Tears In Heaven and Wish You Were Here.

Go to Advanced Acoustic Songs.


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