Learn How To Play "I'll Fly Away" | 3-string CBG lesson

With this post, you can learn how to play the old hymn I'll Fly Away.

Included here are:

  • a video lesson that includes on-screen tablature
  • and a link for downloadable tablature for you to keep, to print, to share, etc.

Video Lesson


Click here to download the tablature.

Some Story Behind The Lesson

As so often is the case with any video of myself I've recorded, the lesson posted here is rough and occasionally awkward. Plus, it may have mistakes I won't discover until a later date. Such is life.

Fun To Learn

None of that, however, decreases how fun this song is to learn. Perhaps more accurately, none of those negative characteristics detract from how much fun I had learning to play this song. And fun it was. The song is even more fun now that I'm past the growing pains of figuring how to arrange it for a 3-string CBG tuned 1-5-1 (GDg, AEa, et al.) and can play the tune from memory. Isn't that when things are the most fun? When you finally get to a point in acquiring a new skill when there's less thought involved in applying it and more action from memory. Hopefully, you'll also find this arrangement fun to learn and play, or at least find it interesting. To be sure, it's not for everyone.

A Struggle To Arrange

For weeks, I struggled with how to translate I'll Fly Away to a 3-string CBG tuned 1-5-1 (in this case, GDg.) Seriously, weeks. That's not to say that my every thought was consumed by how to arrange this song. Instead, that's more of an admission that arranging songs for 3-strings is not easy for me to do. My inclination when learning a song is to strum chords, as one does on a conventional 6-sting guitar. Strumming chords on a 3-string doesn't always do a song justice, though. Too often, when wading through the mire of putting tune-to-instrument, I can't make a find a way to strum the chords on a CBG that satisfies my ears. This little dilemma has forced me to seek new ways to look at my CBG, and how it can best be used to play a song that doesn't leave me... wanting more.

All Single Notes (no chords)

Now, none of the above is to say that I've got it all figured out and that this 3-string arrangement of I'll Fly Away is one you'll like. Rather, you may feel like I've used my cigar box guitar to issue a great injustice unto the world. Hopefully, it's not that bad to your ears. With the video and tab linked above, I hope you instead enjoy this arrangement. You'll see that there is no strumming involved, just plucking single notes in succession. For that reason, you may see the chords arpeggiated in the lesson. And you'll certainly recognize that, compared to the foundational notes following it, the song's melody is always the highest note played.

Find More

In any event, as already mentioned, I hope you enjoy this lesson. Moreover, I hope after you learn it, that you can inspire someone else to pick up and play their CBG, especially with this tune steeped in faith. About that, you can read a different perspective on this song and lesson at my blog, where this all was originally posted. Read that post at GlennWatt.com. And if you dig the video above, or would like someone to point and laugh at, you can find me on YouTube, too.

Thank you for your time and attention. 

Views: 346


You need to be a member of Cigar Box Nation to add comments!

Join Cigar Box Nation

Comment by Glenn Watt on December 7, 2019 at 7:08am

Thank you very much, Philip Taylor, for your kindness and support.

Comment by Philip Taylor on December 6, 2019 at 4:24pm

Thanks so much for this wonderful video.  You make learning music so simple and fun.  Keep up the good work.

Comment by Uncle John on November 29, 2019 at 9:03am

Oh, I can still blush!  Thank you.

Comment by Glenn Watt on November 29, 2019 at 8:16am

That's mighty kind of you, Uncle John. Thank you. Over the past year or so, I've found so much joy, and a sense of something much greater, in gospel tunes. That is due, in no small part, to your performances. I love the passion, the message, and the delivery you have in playing this music, and all of that has encouraged me to explore them, too. 

Comment by Uncle John on November 29, 2019 at 7:53am

Beautiful.  Singing and playing.  Good right hand.   This is my 92 year old momma's fave Gsopel song and one of mine.  

The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources


How to Get Your Own Music on Spotify

Started by Shane Speal shanespeal.com in Feature Articles yesterday. 0 Replies

Volume/Tone Pots

Started by Brent Kasl in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig on Wednesday. 8 Replies


Started by Brent Kasl in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Jerry Jordan on Wednesday. 2 Replies

s/s lm386 draw amp,

Started by GARAGE HERMIT in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by GARAGE HERMIT on Wednesday. 9 Replies

Nut milling

Started by Lothar Ahnert in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Taffy Evans on Wednesday. 3 Replies

Latest Activity

Uncle John posted a photo

Two Dollar Bill

I lost all my money but a two dollar bill and I'm on my long journey home.Birth Year Iowa LPG.
49 minutes ago
Uncle John posted a video

Two Dollar Bill ~ Traditional

Two Dollar Bill ~ Traditional song on License Plate Guitar & Iowa Saxophone.
56 minutes ago
KOOL DOG HOOCH commented on Silent Jim's video

The Holly and the Ivy

"A makeshift faraday cage of grounded aluminium foil may cut the interference. I like your version…"
1 hour ago
Uncle John commented on David Pfeiffer's photo

"A" Guitar with new face/electronics

"Yup.  That patina looks true.  Very nice!"
1 hour ago
the anonymous pick commented on David Pfeiffer's photo
2 hours ago
the anonymous pick commented on Dave Lynas's video
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Uncle John's video

Pawn Shop Christmas Commercial

"Thanks, Shane.  I think you have our business confused with some fly by night outfit."
3 hours ago
KOOL DOG HOOCH replied to Taffy Evans's discussion The Journeys End. The Drought Breaker Resonator.
""I hope some of you got something out of it." Me personally, I thought Santa was dropping…"
4 hours ago
Keith Rearick liked Silent Jim's video
7 hours ago
Keith Rearick liked Dave Lynas's video
7 hours ago
Keith Rearick liked Tyler Williams's photo
7 hours ago
Keith Rearick liked David Pfeiffer's photo
7 hours ago



© 2019   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/963882636?profile=original") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->