How To Play Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes Chords

Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes chords can teach us a lot about guitar playing – let’s explore together.

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play barre chords
  • What 7th chords are and how they work
  • How to use arpeggios to check your chords
  • The main riff of the song
  • 2 new rhythmic ideas that will help your strumming
  • An intro to fingerstyle guitar

Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes Chords Are Fun To Play!

This song is a rite of passage for many beginner guitarists as they make their pilgrimage toward mastering barre chords.

It may look a bit daunting at the outset, but we’re here to make this song super easy on you.

Not only does this song help guide us through the beginning stages of barre chords, it teaches us a few other things as well, such as:

  • How to modulate between a guitar riff and chords
  • 7th chords
  • Fingerstyle guitar fundamentals

In short, this song is a massive study in pushing your guitar playing forward.

Luckily, today we’re cracking the whole thing wide open and taking a look inside this staple of a guitar tune.

Ready to get down with Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes chords? Let’s dive into it.


Before we get down to brass tacks, there are a few pointers we need to cover.

Firstly, if you haven’t yet tackled barre chords, you’ll need them to tackle these Banana Pancakes chords effectively.

Take a step back with us for a second and let us get you caught up. Click here for the ultimate guide to how to play barre chords.

Secondly, this song uses 7th chords, which are a bit different from your standard and familiar major and minor chords.

Thirdly, you should click here and listen to the original track.

We’re going to give you a mini lesson on 7th chords and how they work before we get started.

Let’s explore how they work.


How Do 7th Chords Work?

7th chords are often seen in jazz and fingerstyle music as well as a lot of pop tunes.

These chords have an added bit of definition that makes them pop a bit more distinctly than their standard major and minor cousins.

Where major and minor chords have only 3 notes, 7th chords have 4 (hence the added definition).

For example, let’s look at the notes of G major and G7 in context:

G Major:

G – B – D



G – B – D – F

See the difference? Jack Johnson makes great use of chords like this as his Banana Pancakes chords. Let’s dive deeper.


(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)



Fun Fact: 7th chords come in different varieties. If a chord is listed as a “major 7” chord, it doesn’t imply the same structure as a 7th chord.

A G major 7 chord would have an F# as it’s 7th interval (a major 7 interval), whereas the G7 has an F as it’s 7th interval (known as a ‘b7’ [flat 7] interval)

Now let’s talk about the Banana Pancakes chords themselves and get right into the details.

Note: This song starts with a riff up front, but we’re not going to learn that first. The reason for this is because if we don’t learn the chords first, we won’t actually be able to complete the riff.

Make sense? Okay, awesome. Let’s get into it.

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Banana Pancakes Chords I – The First Two Chords

The main foundation of this song is built off of two 7th chords that hold the song together:

A minor 7 and G7.

These are also the two chords that we need to learn in order to complete the Banana Pancakes, so let’s get into them!

First off is the A minor 7 chord.

In order to pull this off, we need to barre across the 5th fret of our guitar, so start with that and make sure your index finger is flat across your fret.

From there, let’s add in our ring finger at the seventh fret on the A string. With that, the first of our Banana Pancakes chords is complete!


We’ve already covered what the G7 chord looks like on paper, but how do we play it?

Quite similarly to the A minor 7 chord, actually!

Begin by placing your index finger across all the strings at the 3rd fret.

From there, add your ring finger at the 5th fret on the A string like you did for the previous chord. We can then finish off by placing our middle finger at the 4th fret on the G string.

With that, we’ve got out first two Banana Pancakes chords out of the way.

Pro Tip: In order to execute barre chords effectively, we’ll want to employ the use of arpeggios.

An arpeggio is when we play the individual notes of a chord rather than strumming the whole chord all at once, and it’s an extremely helpful technique for sounding out new chords.

Give it a shot!


Banana Pancakes Chords II – The Riff

Jack Johnson did a great job of weaving an infectious riff in between two chords, and we take our hats off to him for it.

This riff is easy to play, and compliments both of the main Banana Pancakes chords perfectly with how it’s set up.

Essentially, all we’re doing is playing along the bottom two strings around the two chords we base the majority of this song around.

Let’s take a look at the tablature for this riff with those two fancy new 7th chords we learned above:


The small stack of X’s before each of the Banana Pancakes chords represent muted strings being hit with the pick.

Pay attention to how this riff flows. In order to work backward from the 7th fret, we’re going to want to lead the slide from fret 5 to 7 with our ring finger.

This way, when we slide up to the 7th fret we can hit the 5th fret on the A string with our index finger. From there, we play the 7th fret once again with our ring finger and use our index to walk down 5-3-0.

Give a single pick stroke to the 5th fret E string in the second bar, hit the muted strings and strum straight through your A minor 7 chord.

Repeat this pattern and do the same for the G7 chord. That’s it!


Banana Pancakes Chords III – Other Need-To-Know Chords

A minor 7 and G7 aren’t the only two chords in this song, but they’re definitely the most important to know.

We’re going to take a quick run through the other chords we’ll see in this song.

First off are the C7 and D7 chords, which use the same shape in two different fret positions.

We will root the C7 chord at the 3rd fret on the A string, and we will root the D7 chord at the 5th fret on the A string.

Once we understand how these 7th chords work, the whole lot of these Banana Pancakes chords become a lot easier to play.

Later in the song, we’ll see the introduction of a few easier chords:

D major

B minor

C major

E minor

If you’ve already figured out G7 and A minor 7 as barre chords, the B minor chord will be a walk in the park for you to play.

We’ve included the chord diagrams below. Once you’ve played through these other four Banana Pancakes chords, be sure to play through all of them together before we continue to the rhythm section. Take a few minutes to do that now.

Pro Tip: The more time we take to practice chords, the easier they become not only to commit to memory, but also to commit to muscle memory!





Banana Pancakes Chords IV – Rhythm & Strumming

This song uses two approaches to chords that make for some seriously quick improvement if you practice.

First, there’s string muting: Simply mute your strings prior to playing each chord, and you’re good to go!

This creates a rhythmic “chuck” sound that helps give us a bit of a beat to work with when it’s played properly.

Try This: Make the shape of any one of the Banana Pancakes chords you’ve learned to play, but don’t push your fingers down all the way. Instead, keep them touching the strings enough that they don’t make a note, and instead just make a muted sound.

Practice muting the strings and then playing the intended chord. This will help you nail down the rhythm for this song more easily.


The second approach involves splitting the chords up a bit (as you saw in the tab above).

All we need to do here is make a chord and hit the bottom-most note separately before we play the rest of the chord.

Let’s try that now with the Am7 chord we learned earlier, as well as the other Banana Pancakes chords.

Pro Tip: We can use this technique with virtually any chord to break it up a bit more and add some more rhythm and definition. Try this with any chord you already know!


Banana Pancakes Chords V – Exploring The Song’s Progressions

Alright, let’s review what we’ve learned so far:

  • 7th chords
  • Barre chords
  • The main riff that accompanies the Banana Pancakes chords
  • The chords themselves

We’ve also picked up a little technique along the way, which is fantastic.

Now, it’s time to start putting this all together so we can make a proper song out of everything we’ve learned thus far.

Note: This next section is going to be important, as we’re going to need to do some listening to the song in order to make sense of all of the moving parts. If you didn’t already, click here to listen to the song. Pay attention to where the chords land in the lyrics below.

We’ve re-attached the intro tab for you to review before we continue.


Let’s break the progressions down for the Banana Pancakes chords in sections below:

Intro Riff (above)

Play this same part through the “can’t you see that it’s just raining” section before the verse.

Verse (count each chord for a count of 2)

Hit the bottom string of each chord (count 1) and then strum the full chord (count 2)


        C7            G7                D7

But baby, you hardly even notice


Am7              C7

When I try to show you


        G7                        D7

This song is meant to keep you


         Am7                       C7

From doin’ what you’re supposed to


G7                    D7

Wakin’ up too early


Am7                     C7

Maybe we could sleep in


G7                           D7

Make you banana pancakes


     Am7                     C7                       Am7 (hold into next section)

Pretend like it’s the weekend now


Chorus (hold each chord for a count of 8)


And we could pretend it all the time



Can’t you see that it’s just rainin’



There ain’t no need to go outside



Ain’t no need, ain’t no need



Mm Mm Mm Mm



Can’t you see, can’t you see



Rain all day and I don’t mind


Bridge (count first half in 8 beats per chord, count 4 beats per chord starting from “Do we really”)



But the telephone’s singing, ringing



It’s too early, don’t pick it up, we don’t need to



We got everything we need right here



And everything we need is enough, just so easy



When the whole world fits inside of your arms


            Em                                      C

Do we really need to pay attention to the alarm



Wake up slow



mmmm mmmm



Wake up slow

Those are all the different progressions you’ll have to learn to put these Banana Pancakes chords together – now let’s sequence the whole thing out and play it back!


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Banana Pancakes Chords VI – Putting It All Together

Alright! So we’ve got everything we need to play this song fluently.

All that’s left to do now is practice effectively.

We’re going to list out the sections of the song in order so that you can play along with your new Banana Pancakes chords. Check it out below:



Verse 1


Verse 2






Bonus Section – A Brief Intro To Fingerstyle Guitar

So you did it – you learned everything needed to play these Banana Pancakes chords perfectly.

But there’s one more thing we can add if we want to spice up our technique and push ourselves forward that much more:

Dropping the pick.

This is a lot easier than it sounds, and we’re going to keep this as a brief challenge – but check this out:

We can articulate chords differently using our fingers by assigning one finger to each string.

“But there are six strings and I have five fingers!”

You raise a valid point – but here’s how we solve that dilemma:

Thumb: Covers E and A strings to play bass notes

Index: D string

Middle: G String

Ring: B string

Pinky: E string


Try This: Pluck the lowest string of the chord with your thumb, then play the rest of the chord with your four fingers combined from the D to high E strings.

This is similar to how we approached the Banana Pancakes chords above with a pick.

Give this some practice and it will begin to come naturally.

That about wraps this one up, folks. All that’s left is to put the time in.

Make sure to hum or sing along to place the chords with the right lyrics!

Practice Makes Perfect!

If you want to get better at this song, work on the following fundamentals that will help you with your chord articulations:

  • Fingerpicking
  • Rhythmic strumming
  • Barre chords
  • Arpeggios

Recommended Resources

So you’ve wrapped your hands around the Banana Pancakes chords – congrats!

Ready for another lesson? Click below to keep going.

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