It is rare to find a guitar player who hasn't looked for Elvis Presley tabs. The history of the original King of Rock and Roll is familiar to everyone with a passing interest in music. His career went through phases: superstardom, the army years, the comeback, the Vegas years, and his tragic death. Elvis' legend is part of the reason why his music continues to be a hit to more and more generations of music lovers. The strength of Presley's biggest hits is something that attracts legions of guitar players to learn his songs through guitar tabs. Thankfully, there are so many hits and legendary songs to choose from that there is more than enough material for any guitarist to study.
The Early Years
The Elvis Presley songs of the early years were generally based on the traditional I-IV-V blues and country progression and, as such, are easy to play along with. The chord structures are not complicated so any beginning guitarist can learn them. The tricky parts, the guitar solos usually played by lead guitarist Scotty Moore, are the most challenging sections. These songs are full of energy and require decent technique to play the fast trademark Scotty Moore runs. Songs from this period include:
- That's All Right Mama
- All Shook Up
- Heartbreak Hotel
- Hound Dog
- Don't Be Cruel
- Jailhouse Rock
There are many tab sites guitarists can visit in order to learn how to play songs from this era. Some of these sites include:
Ultimate Guitar has a large selection of Presley tabs from the early period of his recording career. Their catalogue includes tabs, chords, and lyrics for Presley's most popular songs from the 50s and early 60s. There are also songs that can be opened in Power Tab, which is a program that tabs songs and plays Midi versions so practicing guitarists can follow along by ear.
Songsterr offers a similar, albeit smaller, selection of early Presley hits. The website also offers articles on how to read and play tabs as well as a link to guitar lessons which may be useful for beginners. For newer Presley fans, also included is a discography and CD review - a helpful link for those who want to explore Presley's music further.
The Comeback Years
Once Elvis came out of the Army, there was eager anticipation for what he would do next. The music of this period was more complex than the earlier years and relied more on musical sophistication rather than the high energy rock and roll he had previously been famous for. There are many tabs available for music from this period as well, and they can be found at such sites as:
- AZChords - Here you'll find a vast collection of hits including In the Ghetto, Are You Lonesome Tonight? and It's Now or Never. Some of the songs at AZChords have several versions which is helpful in terms of learning how to play songs accurately; some tabbers pick things up in songs that other tabbers might miss.
- Chordie - Chordie isn't organized as well as many other sites, but if you search by artist you'll find several tab versions of popular Elvis hits, including King Creole and Burning Love.
The 1970s saw Presley move further away from his rockabilly roots towards a big band sound which produced mellower music. These years are sometimes known as the "Vegas Years." The guitar playing in this period became funkier, and songs from the 1970s Presley catalog include:
- Suspicious Minds
- Always on my Mind
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
There are a few sites that offer good quality tabs for Elvis' hits from the 70s. The Tab World separates its list of Elvis Presley tabs into the latest tabs posted, as well as the most popular ones visited.
Guitar Tab Books
There are many other places to go to find Elvis tabs online, as well as a wealth of music books available in stores with chords and tablature for the most popular songs in his discography. Generally, Presley Songbooks can be purchased from most reputable music shops and online. Songbooks include such titles as:
- Elvis Presley 25th Anniversary Songbook
- Elvis Presley Guitar Chord Songbook
- Elvis Presley Anthology
- The Best of Elvis Presley
Get Your Elvis Fix
If you're itching to pick up your guitar and play some of the finest tunes in the rock and rock genre, pick a tab site and start strumming! Elvis Presley songs are instantly recognizable and easy for most people to sing along with, so grab your guitar, load up some tabs, and gather your friends for a sing-a-long.