Hound Dog is a classic song made famous by Elvis Presley. We’ll learn this song with no capo and in the key of G. In case it’s too low for your voice, feel free to use a capo to make it fit better. The key of G is good for guitar in the case of this song, but feel free to do what is best for your voice.
Only 3 Chords
The chords we’re going to be using for Hound Dog are G, C, and D7. Let’s start off with the G. I’m using a three-finger G, with my middle finger, ring and pinky finger. This fingering makes it quite simple to switch to the C as there is economy of movement. However, feel free to use the fingering that you are most comfortable with.
For the C chord, I recommend using a folk style C chord. Keep in mind that the root of this chord is on the fifth string, so that’s where you should hit it from.
For D7, we’re going to place our index finger on the second string first fret, middle finger on the third string second fret, and the ring finger on the first string first string second fret. The bass or root of the D7 chord is on the fourth string.
Practice Walk Through
This practice walk trough is very useful even if you’re still shaky on the chords. Here is where we map out the chords by matching them with the words. The structure of the song starts with a chorus, then head on to the verse. That repeats over and over with the addition of a solo. Both the chorus and verse feature the same chords and a similar melody, but different words.
On this play-along I’m going to give you a rhythm to start on, as the words begin with no chord. Then we’re going to hit each chord just once right where it changes. Make sure you watch the video to know exactly what I’m talking about. Feel free to play this walk through a few times until you feel comfortable with the chords.
The strum pattern for Hound Dog is a simple motion of D DU DU DU. Within this strumming pattern, we’re going to be choosy about what strings I’m hitting on each chord. We’re on a 4/4 time signature, which means we have four beats per bar.
Try to keep a loose grip on your pick and play slightly and not so forcefully. The main thing to get here is the basic down-up strum motion. In the case of Hound Dog, we’re going to play each chord for one full bar before changing. In other words, we play four beats or a full circle of the pattern.
Start slow and try to build it to the point where you can play it without stopping. Once you can do that, then it’s time to speed up the strum pattern to match the velocity of the original song.
Remember to take your time. This is a great chance to work on your strumming. I try to alternate when I accent the bass and when I accent the treble. It's not a set pattern, as I vary it throughout the song, just like most players do.
Hound Dog is a great song to learn. It is a great chance to really focus on your strumming, to make it consistent and steady. Make sure you check out the video to play along with me. As always, take it slow at the beginning and try to have fun.