Let Her Go Chords: The Ultimate Guide

This classic folk-pop tune is timeless & easy to play. Let’s explore Passenger’s Let Her Go chords!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play “Let Her Go” by Passenger
  • How to break songs down into sections for easier learning
  • How to get creative with this song
  • Pro tips for fingerstyle guitar

Ready To Learn Passenger’s Let Her Go Chords?

Guitar songs don’t become classics overnight, but the song we’re delving into today has developed a lot of staying power in a relatively short time.

  • No, we’re not talking about “Let It Go,” the song from the Disney movie Frozen that you’re probably constantly asked to play if you’ve got a child between 3 and 10 years old in the house.
  • Right now, we’re talking about “Let Her Go,” the 2014 British Single of the Year by Passenger!

It’s a huge hit and a constant request in folk-rock shows and jam sessions, and today’s the day you’ll add it to your growing song bag!

Let-her-go-chords

This song has everything!

  • Why is that chorus so darn catchy? We’ll talk about that.
  • How can you make your own arrangement, and what rhythm should you use? We’ve got you covered.
  • Can you learn this song without having to refer to a piece of paper? We’re here for it!

Prepare to have this song down by the time you are finished working out all the elements of our Let Her Go chords lesson!

Let-her-go-chords

Let Her Go Chords: The Background

Passenger, the force behind the song, used to be a band. 

  • They were best known for “Walk You Home,” the biggest single from their 2007 album, Wicked Man’s Rest.
  • Lead singer Michael David Rosenberg kept the name Passenger when the band broke up in 2009.

Rosenberg dropped out of school at the age of 16 and began his career busking, and he eventually busked his way to an international hit.

Passenger as a solo act has released 10 albums in 10 years. That’s pretty busy!

Let-her-go-chords

This tune is written about wrestling with regret. Passenger’s unique voice is perfectly matched for singing about this struggle.

Let’s have a listen!

The intro was inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “Slow Cheetah,” with a melancholy lacy fingerstyle groove.

Passenger’s smash hit got some traction first in the Netherlands and has since become a worldwide hit, which means that wherever you go, people will sing this song with you!

Let’s get to those Let Her Go chords and how to play this great number.

Let-her-go-chords

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Let Her Go Chords: The Intro

One thing that gives Let Her Go enduring popularity is that the song is instantly recognizable from the introduction.

  • Passenger is playing fingerstyle guitar, decorating the Let Her Go chords with a little melodic motif.
  • Beautiful as it is, mixing melody and chords can be prohibitively difficult if you are a newcomer to fingerstyle guitar.
  • If you’d like to work up your fingerstyle chops, we’ve got some great lessons and courses to help you out, including this one here.

We’ve also worked out a relatively simple fingerstyle arrangement of the intro for you to practice, so you can improve your playing while you enjoy this awesome song.

Let-her-go-chords

Let-her-go-chords

If that tablature looks like a lot of random numbers to you, don’t be discouraged! Nine times out of ten, tablature for fingerstyle guitar is based on chord shapes.

The Let Her Go chords for the intro are listed below:

F (xx3211)

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(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!)

or (xx3210)

let-her-go-chords

G (320003)

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Am (x02210)

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Match this progression up with the tablature, and you’ll see how each measure is made up of chord shapes:

F  |F G|  Am G F  |F G| Am Am

The chords inside the two lines indicate a split measure, where each chord gets two beats instead of the usual four.

The fingerpicking pattern is a variant of Travis picking, where your thumb bounces back and forth between two strings.

To begin to learn how to do this, just learn what your thumb has to do first, and add the other fingers later!

Let-her-go-on-guitar

There’s no particular obligation to play the entire chord if you’re not strumming the whole thing on the guitar, but it is still advisable to play the entire chord for two reasons:

  1. Your fretting hand fingers already know the chord shape. It’s in your muscle memory. It’s just easier to do something you know how to do!
  1. If you’re fingerpicking and you happen to miss a string, having the whole chord shape down means that your missed note will fit into the chord and not sound like a mistake.

If you’ve already got a little fingerstyle guitar under your belt and you’d like to try something that more closely approximates the intro Let Her Go chords in the recording, try this intro tab.

Pro-Tip: Always start practicing fingerstyle with your picking thumb.

The thumb keeps the beat and plays the root note of the chord.

Let Her Go Chords: The Chorus

After that lovely introduction, the song begins with the chorus, which is what you want to do as a songwriter if you want to make certain everybody knows the words!

The chord shapes we’re using in this song are key of C chord shapes:

F (xx3211)

G (320003)

Am (x02210)

C (x32010)

Em (022000)

Those are the chord shapes Passenger uses, but you may have noticed that these chords don’t sound like they do in the recording.

Passenger is using a capo on the seventh fret. To match the sound in the recording, put your capo on the seventh fret and use the chord shapes above.

You can adjust the capo placement on your guitar to suit your vocal range. To learn what capos are all about and how and why to use one, check out this lesson!

How-to-play-let-her-go

Putting the capo on the seventh fret transposes the Let Her Go chords from their natural key of C to the key of G.

  • That’s information you’ll need if you’re playing this song with other musicians who are not using capos on their instruments!
  • For the chorus, you’ll use the same chords you had in the intro, but the chord progression for the chorus is different.

Here’s the progression for the chorus:

F  C G  Am

F  C G  G

F  C G  Am

F  C G  G

The chorus happens five times in the song, so most of your work is done already!

Let-her-go-guitar-lesson

Let Her Go Chords: The Verse

Part of what gives Let Her Go this great mix of emotion and story is the lyrical content.

  • The chorus is the message. It seems like the singer is talking as much to himself as he is to the world, and the universality of the lesson is part of what makes the chorus catchy.
  • The verse is a little more impressionistic, a series of images evoking passing thoughts and setting the mood.

The verse progression of Let Her Go chords goes like this:

Am  F G  Em

Am  F G  G

There’s a little interlude after the third chorus with this pattern:

Am  F G  G

Am  F G  G

Am  F G  Em

Am  F G  G

Let-her-go-guitar-tutorial

Let Her Go Chords: The Rhythm

In listening to Passenger’s recording of Let Her Go, you may have noticed that the fingerstyle arrangement used in the beginning of the song does not last forever.

  • Right after the intro and the first chorus, the song kicks in with the full band and starts to rock.
  • More importantly for you as a guitarist, the fingerpicking is abandoned, and the Let Her Go chords are strummed, full-on.
  • You can use any rhythm you like to do that strumming. As a matter of fact, you can begin the song by strumming.

Those are your arranging decisions to make, to play the song the way you like it!

Passenger has a great strumming style for this song, though, so let’s take a lesson in rhythm from him and see how we can use it for the Let Her Go chords and elsewhere!

Let-her-go-guitar-chords

There are two basic strumming patterns that Passenger uses. One is fairly straightforward and one is syncopated, where an emphasized or accented strum happens in an unexpected place.

Our ears expect the emphasized beat to be the first beat in the measure. That’s true of the straightforward pattern.

To do the straightforward pattern, you’ll strum like this, without hitting the strings on the second beat:

Down, -, down-up, down-up

When you practice the syncopated pattern, it’s important to keep the beat with a constant down-up strumming motion even when you’re not hitting the strings.

It sounds like this:

-up, – up, -up, down-up

It’s tricky, and you’ll feel like you’re going to hit yourself in the forehead the first few times, but stick with it and you’ll be able to mix it in with the straightforward pattern.

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Let Her Go Chords: Alternate Key

One thing about being a recording artist: when you record, you can lay down different guitar tracks for the same song.

  • This poses some difficulty when you’re performing live, because you can’t play in two keys on the same guitar unless you are very fast at placing, removing, and moving a capo.
  • But learning the same song in different keys gives you some variety in the voicing of the chords.

This song is recorded in the key of G, so if you’d like to play the Let Her Go chords in that key without a capo, here they are!

C (x32010)

D (xx0232)

Em (022000)

G (320003)

Bm (x24432)

or (xx4432)

free-guitar-lessons

In the key of G, Passenger’s Let Her Go chords work like this:

Intro:

C  |C D| Em  D C |C D| Em  Em

Chorus:

C  G D  Em

C  G D  D

Verse:

Em  C D  Bm

Em  C D  D

Interlude:

Em  C D  D

Em  C D  D

Em  C D  Bm

Em  C D  D

If you’ve got another guitar player with you for this song, you might each play in a different position, one with key of C chords at capo 7 and the other with key of G chords without a capo.

guitar-lessons

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Let Her Go Chords: Song Structure

Now that you’ve got all of the components of the song down, let’s get a brief rundown of the structure.

In this section, you’ll be able to follow the Let Her Go chords through the song, beginning to end.

The introduction, which you can do with strumming or with one of the fingerstyle arrangements we discussed earlier, goes twice through this chord pattern:

F  |F G|  Am G F  |F G| Am Am

The chorus is next, twice through this progression:

F  C G  Am

F  C G  G

Here’s the verse progression. Run through these Let Her Go chords once before singing.

Am  F G  Em

Am  F G  G

The verse goes twice through the chord progression.

After the first verse, there’s the second chorus, same as the first. This chorus is strummed in the recording.

The second verse follows immediately after the second chorus. It’s also twice through the verse progression.

The third chorus follows, and after the third chorus, continue to the interlude:

Am  F G  G

Am  F G  G

Am  F G  Em

Am  F G  G

After the interlude, run through the chorus twice. You can repeat it as long as you like. The final time through the chorus, it is sung a cappella – without the guitar strumming.

For a full chart of the Let Her Go chords, lyrics and progression, click here.

Working Out Your Arrangement Of Passenger’s Let Her Go Chords

It’s a pretty well-tested idea that in order to learn an entire song as efficiently as possible, you should tackle it in pieces. 

  • We’ve separated out the sections of the Let Her Go chords for you so that you can learn each part individually.
  • Once you’ve got each section learned, start putting them together and smoothing out  your transitions.

Have fun playing this pretty little song!

Recommended Resources

If you’ve enjoyed this lesson, we have other places for you to go next! Continue on your path with these lessons:

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