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Margaritaville- Jimmy Buffet

    Intro And Verse


    • The song is in the key of D
    • It is performed at about 125 beats per minute
    • You can get chords and lyrics for the entire song here: Margaritaville

    Musical Intro

    If you’re just used to strumming chords, you might frown upon having to play this brisk opening, but it’s an important part of the song in that it helps set the tone and it also doubles as the ending.

    We’ll play a series of double-stops.

    • Use your 1st finger for the notes on the high E string.
    • Use your 3rd finger for the notes on the 7th and 5th frets of the B string.
    • Use your 2nd finger for all other notes on the B string

    Once you play through it a few times you’ll begin to recognize the patterns. At that point, the reasoning behind the  fingerings will be obvious and come to you second nature. Pick it with all downstrokes.

    margaritaville intro

    Watch The Fretting Hand:

    Strumming Pattern

    Try accenting the first and third beats while playing eighth notes in a simple down-and-up stroke on the second and fourth beats.

    margaritaville strumming

    Start slowly and count along. You can stop counting along once you start getting the hang of it. Practice the strumming over a single chord. Once you can play the strumming pattern as if it’s second nature, you can start following the chord progression.


    Here’s the basic chord progression for Margaritaville. The verse begins on the D chord. You’ll stay there for six measures and then eight measures of the A chord before heading back to the D chord for two more measures.

    margaritaville verse chord progression


    The chorus is a little more involved. It begins on the G chord for one measure, then one measure of A, and the two measures of D. We’ll repeat the progression from these four measures and then things change up again. We’ll begin in similar fashion with one measure of G and then one measure of A. In the following measure we’ll get two beats of D before changing to two beats of A (or A/C#- see video) and then back to G. These last three chords we’ll only strum once. It’s in measures 11 and 12 of the chorus. This is the part where we’ll sing “woman to blame”. The chorus concludes with two measures of A and then two measures of D.

    margaritaville chorus chord progression

    Instrumental Section

    last chorus

    establishing roles (prior to song itself)

    Strumming With Alternate Bass

    Something that works really well with “Margaritaville” really well, especially when performing it as a solo act, is adding an alternating bass line. That’s not to say that just strumming the chords doesn’t get the job done, but adding the alternating bass line can help add another dimension to the song performance.

    If you’ve never played an alternating bass before, be ready to put a little extra practice time in, at least at first. That’s because it’s a little tricky to play at first, but once you have it down you’ll never forget how to do it.

    Just the Bass Notes…

    Start by just playing the alternating bass line. This is the lowest note of the chord you are to play alternated with the fifth.

    For example:

    • With a D chord we’ll alternate between a D note and an A note
    • With an A chord we’ll alternate between A and E
    • With G we’ll alternate between G and D

    You’ll play the first note for a quarter beat (1 beat), then you’ll rest for a beat (don’t play!), then you’ll play the fifth for a quarter beat, and then finish out the measure by resting the remaining beat.

    Ok, sounds complicated when you explain it. Let’s just jump to the chase and see how this works for the particular song that we’re working on.

    There are three main chords to Margaritaville:

    • I = D
    • IV = G
    • V = A

    Now, we’ll look at how to begin practicing the alternating bass with these chords in mind:

    margaritaville alternating bass

    Maybe you’ll want to practice with a metronome or at least keep a steady beat by tapping your foot. The main thing is not to rush or drag but keep that beat steady.

    Super easy, right? Well, that’s just the half of it. We still have to add our chords on top (remember those rests?).

    Adding Chords

    Now, we’ll complete the picture by adding our chords in between our alternating bass. We’ll add the chords with two eighth notes where our rests were previously.

    margaritaville chords with alternating bass

    The main thing here is to practice, practice, practice until you’ve got i