Skinny Love Guitar Lesson (Bon Iver) Acoustic Guitar Tutorial

A guitar lesson on how to play Skinny Love by Bon Iver. This is an acoustic guitar tutorial to get you playing the song just like Justin Vernon. TABS here –

I based my transcription on the original recording and this live performance –

The song is from Bon Iver’s 2007 debut album ‘For Emma Forever Ago’. In the original recording (and when played live) the song is played on a resonator guitar. I am using my trusty Yamaha folk guitar with steel strings. I would definitely recommend steel strings for this. Avoid doing it on a classical or electric guitar.

The guitar is tuned to an open C tuning (i.e. the open strings give the sound of a C major chord). The tuning of the guitar though is slightly lower than the notes that I tell you to tune to. That’s why it might sound pretty horrible if you tune to 440 Hz and try to play along to the song. Have a listen to the song and reference the open C chord if you want to try and make the adjustment to play along to the original.

To get into the tuning for the song, you need to do as follows:

E (string 6) tunes DOWN two tones/whole steps to C
A (string 5) tunes DOWN a tone/whole step to G
D (string 4) tunes UP a tone/whole step to E (always be careful when tuning strings up!)
G (string 3) STAYS the same :o)
B (string 2) tunes UP a semitone/half step to C
E (string 1) tunes DOWN two tones/whole steps to C

Note that both strings 1 and 2 are tuned to the same note.

There is a pretty consistent tied strumming pattern throughout the song, but we are in a shuffle feel here. Simply put, if we are strumming 8th notes down and up, the down strum is longer in length than the up strum. You can split the beat into a count of 3 (or triplets). You strum down on the 1 and back up on the 3 count.

I’m not sure that the chord names I provide for the chord shapes are necessarily the best, but they were theoretical names that were suggested to me by Guitar Pro when I was transcribing the song.

PLEASE give me a thumbs up if you enjoyed the guitar tutorial, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT, LIKE and SHARE. If we can get 100 likes on the video, I will make a copy of my transcription available from my website, so CLICK THAT LIKE BUTTON!

See you soon.

Video Rating: / 5


  1. For some reason everything went well for me apart from the chorus where everything sounds weird and out of tune, I made extra care that the guitar was tuned in open C and checked the tab like 20 times to make sure I was doing it right. Genuinely don't know what to do but it's hella frustrating.

  2. I'm having a hard time playing the fingerpicking parts. Would you mind giving some tips?

  3. Thanks for putting this up. Easy fun song but I couldn't get that tuning exactly right. I think you are the only one who nailed it.

  4. Somehow that F sound wrong…. any experience / hints there

  5. This is one of the best guitar cover song tutorials I've learned from! Finally can play my first Bon Iver song, you rock!

  6. Etherium Sky Films & Media

    you're awesome, dude! thank you for that!

  7. PleasestandardtuningpleasepleasGoDDammOooTNOOOOOO

  8. I am not gonna give you a like just because you asking for that all the time. Otherwise good lesson ..thanks heaps!

  9. Do Everyone requires a plan by lumineers

  10. Lollygaggerification

    First video of yours ive seen, subscribed! Keep up the good work

  11. Thanks man! You're awesome

  12. My dad died couple months ago and we played this song on his funeral, I finally feel better about the whole situation and bought a gituar to play this song myself as a tribuete to my father. Thank you so much for this video!

  13. your guitar sounds amazing what model is that?

  14. Awesome song Man!

  15. Thanks so much for the lesson. It was perfect instruction for this song.

  16. *Creative Witty Name*

    So I've been trying to get this song down but I just can't seem to do the double stops to sound like you do, I have bronze strings and wonder if that's the reason or if it's because I need more practice could you please help me

  17. this is my first day on guitar man i love you❤

  18. Tom-André Thomsen

    You mention "The tuning of the guitar though is slightly lower than the notes that I tell you to tune to. That’s why it might sound pretty horrible if you tune to 440 Hz and try to play along to the song.".
    What frequency is the original song tuned to, do you know?
    Many automatic tuners today have the option to calibrate/change the frequency 🙂

    Here is my favorite take of the original song:
    What frequency do you think is being used? 🙂

  19. you are a BOSS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *