Here’s an intermediate lesson on how to play “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by Charlie Daniels. I’ll show you how to play the opening riff as well as Johnny’s solo.

The song was included on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack and became a huge cross-over hit. I’m tempted to say that it was a hit because it included elements of rock, country, funk, and even heavy metal. But when it comes down to to it, it’s just a great story-song.

I broke this into two lessons, one on the opening riff, one on Johnny’s solo.


The tune is in D minor. Warm up with F Major as well as D Aeolian mode.

F Major scale: DL2-3-A0-L1-L2-3-E0-L1 

F major scale with variations 60 bpm

F Drone

Also practice the scale at your own speed with the F drone. This is also a great way to tune up DL2 and EL1 📈

D Aeolian scale: D0-1-L2-3-A0-L1-L2-3 

This has the same notes as F Major, but starts on D.

Play the scale with a D drone

Review and practice the scales if you need:

The Opening Riff

Short audio

Full audio tracks

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Full tabs

A part 

First phrase: A3-L2-3-E0-L1 L1-L2-3 3-L4-3-L2-L1-0

Partial sheet music

Full sheet music

Johnny’s Solo

Short audio

Multi-tempo full audio tracks

Full tabs

A part 

first line: (E0-0)-L1-0-L1-L2-L1-0-A3-E0-L1-0-L1-L2-L1-0-A3-0 

Charlie’s version!


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4 responses to “The Devil Went Down To Georgia

  1. Hey all, if you see this… that C# and the F# are both notes you shift up to play. Especially that F#! If you strain to reach notes like that you can injure your tendons. Move your forearm, wrist and first finger altogether up to the A note on the E string, placing that first finger on the note. Now you are in third position and the C# will be easy to play with your 3rd finger. Yes you can stretch for it if you want, but you can’t stretch for that next one, so shifting up most of the way already is a big help. That F# next is actually meant to be played while in 5th position. You can just move your hand up higher and it will be accessible. Technically, your first finger would be anchored on where that C# is. Learning a bit about shifting and doing it smoothly will help a lot. At least get familiar with shifting to third… you can use that position often enough in fiddle music if you want to. 🙂 Cheers!

    1. I have really small hands and short fingers too so I feel your pain. It will get there. Your hand flexibility will improve over time. I do find that most of the time I cheat. I can’t keep my first and second fingers down and still hit the fourth finger accurately most of the time… I pick up fingers 1 and 2, anchor with the 3, and then play the fourth fine. Because of some arthritis pain in my first finger on my left hand I find I pick up that finger a lot unless it’s actually needed to finger a note.

      One thing that helps in this song is that the fourth finger on the E plays B flat (low fourth) instead of having to reach all the way to play the full B!