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. 

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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.  

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