Learn to play "Hotel California" by The Eagles on Ukulele
As we head into fall, UU is sneaking in one more classic summertime tune for you to jam on your ukulele! "Hotel California" by the Eagles is one of those tunes that everyone knows and loves, so we're breaking it down for you (including the iconic fingerpicking intro/outro). For this one we called upon the awesomely talented band, Kauai Kollab, to do the honors with Darrell "Fingahs" Rapozo on electric ukulele & vocals. Hope you enjoy it & if you need help learning this tune, begin with any of the steps below:
STEP 1 - Chords
To start off, you'll need to learn 7 basic chords: Am, E7, G, D, F, C, and Dm. Once you got those down, all you'll need is the order in which you play them. This chord pattern is different between the verses and chorus.
The Verse Chords:
Am(2000), E7(1202), G(0232), D(2220), F(2010), C(0003) or C(5433), and Dm(2210)
The Chorus Chords:
Same chords, different order. Once you memorize the names of the chords and can put your fingers in the right spots whenever you see the chord name, you're pretty much set! Memorize the chord order for the verses and the chorus and you've got yourself a song. Go to the top of the page and play along with the "Hotel California" Ukulele Play-Along to practice. If you'd like to add a simple rhythm to your chords, move on to Step 2:
STEP 2 - Rhythm / Strumming
Next, you can add a really simple rhythm that you can use to play the entire song. Simply find the beat of the song, count 1, 2, 3, 4, and strum down on beats 2 and 4.
Intermediate / Advanced Rhythm
If you would like to really practice your Reggae strum, the way the band plays it in the Play-Along, check out the Intermediate Rhythm video above. You can also add advanced techniques including rolls and faster pinky mutes.
Feel free to use whatever rhythm works with your style and skill level. Be sure to play along with the "Hotel California" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page, with your newfound strum. And if you're feeling even more adventurous, move on to the picking parts below:
STEP 3 - Intro Fingerpicking
At the very beginning of the video, Aldrine is just improvising over the Am scale (see Step 5 below for the scale and how to improvise). But the main intro fingerpicking part that everyone recognizes mainly just follows the verse chords.
In the Play-Along video, Darrell plays it slightly different from the way Aldrine does it. Use the Intro Fingerpicking video lesson here, as well as the Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page as a reference to figure out the way that works best for you. Great job! Move on to the Chorus Riffs in Step 4:
STEP 4 - Chorus Riffs
There are 2 riffs that Aldrine plays during the chorus. The first is a simple riff that always comes after the word "California" in the chorus. The second is a little more complicated, but fun to play. Neither of of these are absolutely necessary, but they do add that special something to the mix.
Use what works for you and play along with the "Hotel California" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page to practice these riffs.
STEP 5 - Solo Improvisation
Towards the end of the song, Darrell and Aldrine duke it out with some improved solos. For the most part they both stick to the Am scale, though both of them sneak in a few (or in Aldrine's case, a ton) of notes not in the scale. In the video above, Aldrine explains an easy way to remember some essential notes from the Am scale so you can begin experimenting with improvising solos on your own.
Try it out using the "Hotel California" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page. And when you're ready, we've got one more picking to take us home ...
STEP 6 - Outro Picking
Finally, there's one more picking that happens at the very end of the song. Again, Aldrine and Darrell both approach this picking a little differently. Aldrine explains the version he plays in the video above.
Awesome work! Remember you don't have to master every step of this lesson to have fun and play along with "Hotel California" by the Eagles. Try it out, play what your style and skill permit, and enjoy making great music that everyone loves. A very special shout out to Kauai Kollab (Darrell Rapozo, Ryan Mckeague, Jonah K. Cummings, Jr., Elias Gonzales, and Paul Kalani Kaiminaauao). And as always, if you have any ukulele related questions, need help learning any song, or anything else at all, send a message - we're always here for you! Have a great one UUers, keep strummin'