My Girl guitar TAB guitar lesson and guide how to play My Girl

They don’t make them like this anymore. This is the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat My Girl guitar TAB guitar lesson and full how to play guide. My girl is a magnificently fun song to play on guitar. It has an amazing riff and a great groove. This classic Temptations track is a must learn for all guitar players so dive in and enjoy.

My Girl was recorded by the Temptations and was written by the Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. It was the Temptations first number 1 single in the U.S. The song was included in the Temptations 1965 album The Temptations Sing Smokey.

My Girl climbed to the top of the charts after its Christmas time release in 1964. The track would go onto become one of Motown’s most successful and most well-known singles. It was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame in the late 90s and was featured in the top 100 in Rolling Stone’s top 500 greatest songs of all time. 

My Girl guitar TAB guitar lesson and guide – My Girl TAB intro

my girl guitar tab

The first thing you hear in My Girl is the bass. The bass notes used are G and C with the G being the higher in pitch of the 2. I’m telling you this because you as the guitar player need to come in at the right time. You can hear the bass riff play 4 times and you’re coming in on the 5th repeat. Don’t come in on the G note though, come in on the first C. That way you’ll be nice and in time from the start.

Speaking of time, oh look, I’ve included the tempo of the track for you as well. Its 104 beats per minutes.

My Girl TAB for the guitar part of the intro is here.

Nice and simple 2 bar intro section for you there. The trickiest part of this is the timing. Make sure you’re nice and synchronised with that bass. We will continue using that amazing sounding little guitar riff in different parts of the song. It will be used in the verses and the backing of the instrumental section specifically but for the most part, what you saw in the intro will form just half of the main riff.

Let’s move on from the intro and take a look at the first verse.

My Girl TAB verse riff

Here is the guitar TAB for the first verse of my girl. This will look and feel very familiar to what we’ve done already.

For this section we’re using the same riff as we used in the intro but after 1 play through we’re repeating it at a different part of the fretboard. The shape is exactly the same. The only thing that’s changed is the location of the riff. Simply play the exact same thing starting on the F on the low E string.

Another thing that’s worth pointing out here is that this riff can be played in different ways such as using the open strings. I prefer this way because it uses that repeated shape. Yes there’s more fretting and movement but this way is easier to play in my opinion.

As you can see by the repeat marks, we play this whole guitar riff 4 times. After that, we move onto the first chorus of the song.

My Girl chorus

We move away from the riff focused approach now into the world of chords. In other words, the chorus sections are chords/strumming based. How you approach the strumming is really up to you and I guess it depends on how you’re performing the song. Are you with a full band or playing acoustic for example?

To make the instructions easier to digest, let’s split this chorus into 2 sections. The first 4 bars contain 2 chords per bar. The first half of bar one uses a C major chord and the second half uses a D minor 7 chord. Then the first half of the second bar uses an F major chord and the second half uses a G major chord. Repeat those 2 bars for the total 4.

Earlier I said that how you perform the chords pretty much depends on your arrangement but here’s what I like to do.

My Girl TAB for how I play the first part of the chorus

But that’s just me. If you want to use a more traditional strumming approach then that’s fine. Maybe you’d like to use a more short and stabbing approach to the chords. That’s fine too. I’m not your mum. I’m just giving you the building blocks here.

Now we’re at the second part of the chorus section. This section starts with 2 bars of C major 7 followed by 1 bar of D minor 7. 

Those bars are followed by 1 final bar which consists of G major and F major chords. I’d recommend staying fairly true to the record arrangement for this part which is why I’ve made the TAB for you. Notice that there’s a rest there so you should be playing nothing for the second beat of this bar.

My Girl TAB final part of the chorus

What follows next is nice and simple. A complete repeat of the verse and chorus section that we’ve already learned. So now you have intro verse chorus verse chorus. Next comes the instrumental section.

My Girl instrumental section

Just like the chorus, I am going to break this down to make it easier to understand. Let’s start naturally with the first part of the My Girl instrumental section.

The first section of the instrumental part is an exact clone copy of the song’s intro. We start with the bass and then you come in with the exact same riff in the exact same place. Nice and straight forward. No TAB required.

The second part of the instrumental is also nice and straight forward. All you need to do is repeat the guitar riff from the verse that we looked at earlier. Only this time, you only play it twice rather than the 4 times previously. Once again, no TAB needed.

The final part of the instrumental section is simple but it does something very clever. All you need to do is play 1 bar of D minor 7 then 1 bar of G major then 1 bar of E minor and finally, 1 bar of A major. We have 2 new chords there but still simple enough right?

Once again, the strumming really depends on you but that last bar of A major is pretty important so here’s the TAB. Nice and easy. If you’re using a barre chord version of A major then obviously substitute the chord but leave the rhythm. 

Again notice the repeat marks. You’re simply playing 3 8th note chords and leaving the rest of the bar empty. Rather simple to explain but it won’t hurt to have the visual.

My Girl TAB final bar of the instrumental section

So I mentioned that the instrumental part does something clever. Well those chords have given us a key change. This means the final parts which are the last verse and chorus as well as the outro are going to be different to the parts that have gone before. Next up is the final verse and the first section of the song in our new key.

My Girl TAB verse with key change

Much like the previous 2 verse sections, this one uses the riff. The only difference is that now, where we play the riff has to change to match our key change. Here’s the TAB

Notice that the shape is still exactly the same so this is not more difficult to play. We’ve simply moved things up 2 frets. The final chorus of My Girl tells a similar story.

My Girl key change chorus

The performance of the final chorus remains largely the same but the chords are now different. The first half of Bar 1 is now a D major chord and the second half an E minor chord. The first half of the second bar is now a G major chord and the second is now an A major chord. Just like before, these 2 bars are repeated.

What follows that is 2 bars of D major and then 1 bar of E minor. In the final part of this chorus section you can hear a walking bass line. You can play chords here if you like. The chords would be A major G major F sharp minor E minor or you can replicate the walking bass on guitar which you could play like this.

My Girl final chorus walking bass on guitar

If you go with the chords then you could play the same rhythm as the TAB I just showed you only with the chords or you could use quarter notes (1 beat per chord). I’d recommend the later if you’re using the chords or even a mix of both. Something like this.

Chords for the walking bass line

Again that’s just a guide. You have the building blocks for the section so you can do what you like really. I’ve played the chords over the walking bass off beat in the past. It’s really up to you how you arrange it.

My Girl outro

Finally we have the outro. This is a fade out outro so bare that in mind.

The outro of the song is simply a repeat of that second part of the last chorus. The 2 bars of D major followed by the 1 bar of E minor then the walk down. This is repeated a couple more times to fade out.

You may be looking for a clean non fade out way of ending this one. There’s a few ways of doing this but the simplest way would be finish that section that you can hear in the fade out completing the walk down then ending on a short 8th note D major chord. If you time it right with the lyrics “my girl”, it can sound pretty good. You could even go walk down, then first half of the riff and then the D chord. Incorporating the riff is definitely possible but the first suggestion is fine.

Fade outs give me headaches. If you come up with another way of finishing this Motown classic then be sure to let me know what you come up with.

What next?

That about wraps this My Girl guitar lesson up. I love a song with an epic and instantly recognizable guitar riff and My Girl definitely falls into that category. I’ve written other guitar lessons that also fall into the epic and instantly recognizable riff category which you maybe interested in. I’ll keep the list short but I’ll provide both clean and heavy options in an attempt to keep you all happy. 

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