The Ultimate Guide To Hotel California Chords

This Eagles classic is a staple of music that every guitarist should learn – let’s dive in and take a look at the Hotel California Chords!

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play this Eagles tune the easy way
  • How to play along to the record
  • How to understand the song structure
  • How to strum along with the rhythm of the song
  • What the minor & harmonic minor scales are & how to use them

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Welcome To Your Hotel California Chords Lesson!

You can leave any time you like, but you can’t check out if you want to learn the chords to this song!

This 1976 classic Eagles song has everything, and it’s even more fun to play and sing than it is to listen to.

Drummer Don Henley has called Hotel California a song about “excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”

It’s obviously one of the Eagles’ most well-known songs, and a great piece of songcraft from its easy-to-remember chord progression to its lyrics that are wide open to interpretation.

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This is such a great song to learn to play at any level. As an advancing beginner, you don’t need to know anything more complicated than a three or four-string version of the F chord.

  • As an intermediate or more advanced player, it’s a great barre chord workout and a fun chord progression that you can use to practice improvisation or learn how to play dual leads.
  • We’ve got the entire rundown of this atmospheric 1970s guitar masterpiece, including how to play the intro and some ideas for jamming over the extensive instrumental ending.
  • Before we get into the song, let’s have a little background on what we’re getting ourselves into!

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Hotel California Chords: The Background

The Eagles’ story is pretty well-documented, most extensively in Alex Gibney’s 2013 two-part documentary, History of the Eagles.

“Hotel California” is the title track from the Eagles’ best-selling 1976 album, and a number 1 hit.

What’s interesting about the success of both the album and the song of the same name is that they came out as a stylistic shift for the Eagles away from their country-rock roots.

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Before you continue, refresh your memory with a listen below:

Don Felder came up with the simple melody, which is beautifully offset by his shifting chord progression.

  • The other Don in the Eagles, Don Henley, wrote the lyrics with help from Glenn Frey. The lyrics came from desert surroundings, film, and a sense, as Frey said, of “screwing up paradise.”
  • The amazing dual guitar work of Felder and Joe Walsh at the end of the lyrics is something nobody heard very often on the radio in the 1970s.

The Eagles refused to release a version of “Hotel California” that was edited down, so whenever the song was played on the radio, it was the entire six-minute version.

Your version doesn’t have to be six minutes, but we’ll cover everything about this song, just in case!

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Hotel California Chords: The Progression

Hotel California was recorded in the key of B minor, which is a great key for building up stamina with barre chords!

To all of us not yet certified in barre chords, this can feel like a deal-breaker.

  • If we make some modifications however, we can take all the Hotel California chords and transpose them down a whole step into the key of A minor.
  • From there, if we want to play it along with the recording or in the original key, we can just put a capo on the second fret, transposing everything back up a whole step to the key of B minor.

Transposition (which means changing the key) is a great way to make difficult songs easier by using chords you know.

Either way, the sequence of the Hotel California chords is an interesting take on a very traditional chord progression.

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Hotel California Chords: Building A Chord Progression

There are two distinct chord progressions in Hotel California, one for the verse and one for the chorus.

The verse progression has an atmosphere like an endless staircase descending into the dark, and that’s by design. In the original key, the verse progression goes like this:

Bm F# A E G D Em F#

It looks like a jumble, but look at what happens when we eliminate half of these chords:

Bm A G F#

Now we have a direction, descending through the musical alphabet. This is a very flamenco-sounding set of chords called the andalusian cadence. You’ll find this progression in songs like “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Runaway.”

Easy-hotel-California-lesson

Those other Hotel California chords in the verse lend a wandering quality to the Andalusian cadence.

  • When we get to the chorus we are met with G major, a sudden burst of sunlight in this moody chord progressions
  • That shift is magical. Let’s figure out how to play it.

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Pro-Tip: Although it’s not necessary to understand all the music theory behind every song you play, it’s helpful to understand how music works.

Building a vocabulary of patterns and chord progressions will enable you to learn songs quickly and more thoroughly! Understand that everything in music is interconnected.

What you learn from the structure of these Hotel California Chords will help your understanding of music as a whole.

Hotel California Chords: Open Chords Version

In the key of A minor, the Hotel California chords are more accessible and easy to navigate.

Here are the chords you’ll need to play Hotel California in the key of A minor:

Am (x02210)

(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!)

E (022100)

G (320003)

D (xx0232)

F (xx3211)

OR (xx3210)

C (x32010)

Dm (xx0231)

If you don’t like doing the mini-barre on the F major chord, the alternative above is the F major seventh chord.

This is a great stepping stone to F while you figure out how to flatten the first finger while keeping the second and third fingers properly curved.

Keep working at the F major chord and try moving your first finger back to cover the E and B strings.

It’s less of a finger contortion than it is a matter of finding the proper angle for your hand!

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The Hotel California chords in the verse happen in this order:

Am E G D

F C Dm E

Play each chord for two measures, four beats each. You can always just play each chord once while you’re getting used to the changes.

In the chorus, you use the same chords but in a different order:

F C E Am

F C Dm E

There is a bonus bass run during the A minor chord in the chorus.

You can hear it in the recording. If you’d like to try it, play this instead of strumming the two measures of Am.

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Hotel-California-Chords

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