How to play Valarie on guitar Valarie guitar chords TAB and guide

In this guitar lesson for Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat, I will be showing you the Valarie guitar chords and TAB and how to play Valarie on guitar. Or to be much more specific. I will be showing you how I personally play Valarie on guitar. I have an easy and neat little way of playing this awesome song and I’d like to pass it on to you, so that’s what I shall be doing in this lesson today.

Valarie is a song that was originally written and recorded by English Indie rock band The Zutons. It was a song from the 00s and it was a track on their second album, Tired of Hanging Around. Valarie was later covered by Mark Ronson with the lead vocals performed by Amy Winehouse.

It’s the Amy Winehouse / Mark Ronson version of Valarie that was the inspiration for how I play the track. The structure that we will be looking at today is identical to the Ronson / Winehouse version, as is the general feel and mood of the track. My version is very much stripped back though and can be performed by a solo guitarist / vocalist as well as in a band situation or guitar / vocalist duo.

Valarie guitar chords TAB and How to play

valarie guitar chords tab and guitar lesson

IThis version uses rhythm and chord-based guitar playing throughout so the first thing you’ll need to do is ensure that you know all the guitar chords that we’ll be using for this version of Valarie. The chart below shows you the few chords that you’ll need to know. If you ever need to learn new chords, simply visit the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat guitar chord library. Plenty of chords in there.

Valarie guitar chords

As I mentioned earlier, the structure of this version of Valarie is the same as the Ronson / Winehouse version. Wow I’m already tired of forward slashes.

The track opens with a 4 bar intro that’s played on the bass guitar. The intro is very simple indeed but what you do as a guitarist isn’t very interesting because regardless of your situation, you’ll be doing nothing.

If you’re in a band situation, this part will be handled by the bass player, as will the first part of the first verse. We’ll get to that.

If you’re not in a band situation, you’ll still be doing nothing because my recommendation is to skip this intro entirely. It’s too thin to get over on a solo guitar. Simply allow the vocals to bring the track in, as they do for the first verse.

Valarie guitar chords TAB & lesson – verse 1

Your situation again has an impact on what you do in the first verse on your guitar. Basically, if you’re in a band situation, you’ll be playing only the second half of the first verse, allowing the bass to take the forefront with the vocals for the first half. If you’re flying solo as the only instrument, you’ll play throughout the whole verse and you’ll also be playing a little extra to fill in some space.

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Verse 1 band situation

Verse 1 solo guitar situation

As you can see, the chords above are the same. The only difference is that there are empty bars for the first half of verse 1 in the first example whereas in the second, the bars are populated. The idea with the band is that the bass fills that space until the guitar kicks in later.

It’s that lack of bass guitar that gives example two it’s extra notes. We need to fill that space so we will do so with our guitar.

Some of you may have noticed that I’m using an off-beat rhythm here. The chords are played between the beats on each bar. I’d recommend that you have a basic understanding of this before tackling this lesson in full.

This next image may prove useful for those who don’t understand what off beat rhythm is. You’re playing the chords, off the beat. If you were to count a bar (in 8th notes) as 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, the chords would fall on the “ands”. In example 2, the single notes are played on the beats (1 2 3 4).

Thanks to whoever I stole that image from. I think it was Guitar Masterclass. I could have made the same thing but I’m lazy, sorry guys.

The slides

I’ve included a couple of quirky little slides on the single notes there. It’s up to you if / where you use them. If you want to move them around or not play them at all, that’s perfectly fine. The one piece of advice I would give on that though is to not over use them. The same applies to the other verses too.

Valarie guitar chords TAB and lesson pre chorus section

The section that follows the first verse (and all of the verses for that matter) is the pre chorus. The chord progression for this pre chorus section and all the subsequent pre chorus sections is this.

Valarie guitar chords pre chorus

Ab7 / Gm7 / Ab7 / Gm7 / Ab7 / Gm7 / Bb7 / Bb7

Clearly an 8 bar section there. The strumming for which is really up to you. You could be quite minimal with it or you can take a more strum based approach and inject some of your personality into it.  Just remember that the chorus follows and will need to feel “bigger” than the pre chorus.

I tend to keep this section quite minimal. Often but not always, playing the chords on beat 1 of each bar and letting them ring out. I build up the strumming on that very last Bb7 chord at the end to build up for the chorus, but I don’t stray too far from this. I do stray though.

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There is space for some restrained play that’s more developed than simply playing the chords on beat one so just experiment and find your sweet spot. Is there room for picking individual notes of the chord after the initial strum? Is there a middle ground between full blown strumming and one whole note chord? Can you play one pre chorus different to how you played the last?

The playing of the verses is much more rigid and less open to interpretation to this section as you can tell. The Chorus parts is also ready for some artistic license. We will take a look at the chorus parts next.

Valarie guitar chords TAB & lesson chorus sections

The Valarie choruses can be great fun to play because you get a chance to throw your personality and passion into your strumming. That is, as long as you remain locked within the groove. No TAB is required for the choruses. All you need is the chord progression.

The chord progression may seem familiar. That’s because we’re going to be using the same chord progression that we used in the verses. The only difference between the two sections is how they’re played. For the verses, we’re remaining rigid and disciplined but when we’re playing the chorus parts, we can be more free and expressive to a degree. Again, experiment with the strumming and see what works for you. All I will say is, the idea is to fill the space much more than in the verses.

Valarie guitar chords chorus section

Ebmaj7 / Ebmaj7 / Fm7 / Fm7

Ebmaj7 / Ebmaj7 / Fm7 / Fm7

Valarie guitar chords TAB & lesson verse 2

Verse 2 of this version of Valarie is going to mimic verse 1 to a point. There’s no confusion with where the guitar comes in this time as, no matter your situation, you’ll be playing throughout. I’m only giving you the TAB for the solo guitar version here so if you’re with a band, just don’t play the single notes. Play the chords only.

Nothing is changing in terms of what we’re playing. The only difference between this verse and the last, is the length. This verse is longer. A pre chorus and chorus section follow this verse with no formal changes so no guidance required.

Breakdown verse

So, after the second chorus in the Ronson version, we have a verse that has a little bit of a change in dynamics. We’re going to copy that here and play that verse like this. Here’s the TAB. It’s like a half and half. Half calm and half normal. You don’t have to play it exactly the same as this. This song is something that you can easily just groove to, but try to retain this structure.

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This is followed by another pre chorus section and then finally, the final chorus.

The final chorus is played the same but it’s longer so simply loop the progression until the end at which point, you’ll find yourself at an Ebmaj7. You can choose how to perform those last couple of moments of the track. Listen to the Ronson version as a guide. There’s room for a little Ritardando there (gradually getting slower) and there’s room for some arpeggiated stuff after your very last strum should you choose to use such an approach. With this one, simple is fine.

The timing of the ending can be tricky, but you’ll get it down with practice of course.


That about wraps things up for this lesson on how to play Valarie on guitar. I can appreciate that a lot of my instruction has been telling you to basically figure out what works in terms of the strumming. If you can play in a groove, this shouldn’t be a problem and for those who’re learning how to do that, this will prove great practice.

This version of Valarie is extremely fun to play on guitar in my opinion. I’ve learned many songs over the years and forgotten even more, but I’ve never forgotten how to play Valarie. I’ll never get bored of playing this song and I hope you don’t either. Have fun.

What next?

I hope you enjoyed this guitar lesson and didn’t find it too difficult. Want to learn some more easy guitar songs? Check out the links below. All of those songs are nice and simple but more importantly, they’re just as fun to play on guitar as this one is. 

Tracy Chapman Talkin’ Bout a Revolution Guitar Chords and Lesson 

Outkast Hey Ya Guitar Chords and Lesson 

If those don’t grab your attention, check out my list on easy guitar songs for more inspiration. You’re sure to find something to learn in there. 

List of Easy Guitar Songs

Learn the essential skills to play the guitar in your favorite music styles