I've Been Working on the Railroad
Guitar Tabs and Chords

I've Been Working on the Railroad - guitar tabs and chords in two different keys.

Though this is a traditional and old song, don't assume your students have heard this song before.

But being easy to learn, except for one surprising chord, they will be singing it in no time!

Here it is in the key of G, the version that has a tricky new chord (B).

Scroll down the page for the links to the free printable PDFs.

I've Been Working on the Railroad guitar tabs

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

You see that B major chord at the end of line three?  It might stop your students right in their tracks.

The A7 chord might be a new one as well, but that one is EASY.

So, to approach the new B major chord:

A major chord on guitar
  • I have my students make an "A" chord, then 
  • swap out their fingering to leave index finger free.  Then, 
  • it's barre chord time!
  • We slide the chord "up" one fret (meaning, closer to the sound hole, further from the tuning pegs)
  • Lay the index finger down across the top fret: now we have the chord of Bb. (We could call it A# as well; but tradition and a couple of other reasons dictate that Bb is the best name.)
How to make a B major chord on the guitar
  • Slide up one more fret.  Now the index finger should be laying across the second fret. 

If the rest of the fingers have behaved and stayed in place, then we have achieved a B chord!

But your young students won't be happy.  Unless you have been working with them on barre chords, this may be a huge stumbling block instead of a challenge!

Therefore, I ask them, 

"So do you want to play the barre chord, or just the 4-string chord for now?" 

Laaaaa!  The clouds part, and light is seen.  Turns out that the 4-string chord is perfectly acceptable to them.  

Still not VERY easy, still not very PRETTY... but it's a start.

Now here's page two; it uses just the three main chords. 

But because it only uses the I, the IV, and the V chords, this seems like an opportunity for a new challenge. 

Therefore, I ask the kids to tell me WHAT those 3 main chords will be, if we are in the key of G.  

Dinah won't you blow your horn sheet music

Holding up the five fingers of one hand, we count up, "G, A, B, C, D..."  If G is "1", then C and D are the 4 chord and the 5 chord. 

Our trial run through page two is GUESSING which chords are played where, as we sing it through without the sheet music.  They usually do pretty well!

I like for my guitarists, even the young ones, to have an idea of how chords are built.  

 Therefore, we frequently find ourselves over at the piano keyboard or using a piano keyboard paper chart, especially when working on notereading or building chords.

The layout of the piano keys is the "Rosetta Stone" for musicians.

The key of C is the other option for this guitar song:

The Railroad song, in the key of C

The only problem is... yes, that darned F chord.  It's so hard to make it sound good!  But PRACTICE makes, well, PALATABLE.  Perfection will come!

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah sheet music

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

When I was a girl, we used to pile into the back of my grandparents' milk delivery truck and head "out the road" for a fun day at a local swim hole.

Together with lots of root beer, chips, hot dogs, floatable inner tubes and COUSINS, we'd have a blast. 

Half the fun was singing silly songs on the thirty-minute drive out there.  We'd sing "My gal's a corker; she's a New Yorker...", "Found a Peanut," and a few other favorites.

I've Been Working on the Railroad was the one I knew best, and remembered all the words to!


Here are the links to the free sheet music with guitar tabs:


Download I've Been Working on the Railroad guitar tabs in the key of G


Download Railroad song with guitar tabs in the key of C









Recent Articles

  1. O Susanna Easy Piano & Guitar Sheet Music

    O Susanna is a song from the olden days of gold panning, and it's still fun to sing and play! Get the sheet music for beginning piano, and easy tabs for guitar here.

    Read More

  2. Toccata by Monteverdi for Piano Trio, or Piano Ensemble

    Toccata, from an opera: vigorous & bright trio and ensemble arrangements with lots of rhythm - surprisingly EASY & FUN! With many rehearsal suggestions.

    Read More

  3. Classical Piano Sheet Music - a Collection of Short Introductions

    Classical piano sheet music collection - easy one-page introductions for note-writing practice & gaining familiarity with the literature!

    Read More

  4. Should I Even Bother Trying to Re-Learn Piano, Or Is It a Waste of Time?

    Comments or Questions: I was just reading about autism and music. I am recovering from a subarachnoid hemmorhage (bleeding in the brain) that ended up

    Read More

  5. Skye Boat Song Vocal & Guitar Sheet Music

    "Skye Boat Song" from Scotland, with a lovely NEW finger-picking version for guitar, as well as the 2 original EASY arrangements!

    Read More

  6. Just the Black Keys, for the Younger Pianist

    "Just the Black Keys" is a new piano book for young beginners who need more time with simple music. Make that simple music FUN!

    Read More

The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!

Available at Amazon

Sign up for "Take Note!" to see what's new every month.


About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.